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ASSIGNMENT VIENNA

assignment_vienna_mv_am assignment_vienna_tv_av
 
Full Name: Jake Webster
Codename: -
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Eric Bercovici , Jerry Ludwig
Time Span: 1972 - 1973

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Jake Webster is an agent with U.S. Intelligence.
       The exact agency that Webster works for is not known. His immediately supervisor is Major Bernard Caldwell leading one to think it might be affiliated with the military but since Caldwell is definitely a bit beyond normal military age, he could easily be retired and working for a civilian agency.
       Webster is described as an American expatriate living in Vienna and happily running a dining and drinking establishment with the very American title Jake's Bar and Grill. While it would be completely true that Webster obviously loves action and adventure, shown by the speed with which he leaps into any dangerous situation, we are quickly shown that his participation in the activities of his "bosses" is not all that voluntary.
       It was seem that Caldwell personally or the Intelligence bureau Caldwell works with has some evidence held closely which could have a serious unpleasant affect on Webster resulting in his being arrested in his new home country of Austria. This means that the relationship between Webster and Caldwell is not always on the friendliest of terms. Forgetting his forced motivation, though, once Webster gets into a mission, he goes at it with tremendous gusto.
       Webster is a single man likely in his late 30s. He is ruggedly handsome and, being in excellent physical shape, as attractive to the opposite sex that he routinely encounters as he is to them. This does open him up for a couple of "cases" which are not brought to him by Caldwell but by beautiful women in need of some assistance.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1972
Last Appearance:1972

       In early 1972 a made-for-television movie was shown, obviously a pilot for a planned network series. Assignment Munich starred the handsome and talented actor Roy Schieder in the lead role of Jake Webster.
       A source I read indicated that delays in getting the pilot on air meant that Schieder had already moved on to other projects, including his prominent role in the oscar-winning The French Connection. With his movie star on the rise, Schieder was no longer willing to commit to a television series.


1 Assignment Munich Assignment Munich
Director: David Lowell Rich
Writers: Eric Bercovici, Jerry Ludwig
Actors: Roy Scheider as Jake Webster, Richard Basehart as Major Caldwell, Lesley Ann Warren as Cathy Lange, Robert Reed as Doug Mitchell
Released: 1972

The brains behind the largest bank robbery in Europe has been released from prison after an eight-year stretch. He is soon run down in the street, leaving the whereabouts of the gold stolen in the caper still a mystery. It is possible his daughter knows the location and his accomplices will do anything to get the truth. Jake Webster is getting involved on behalf of the U.S. government.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:8
First Appearance:1972
Last Appearance:1973
Network:ABC

REGULAR CAST
Robert ConradJake Webster [ 1 ]
Charles CioffiMajor Caldwell [ 1 ]
Anton DiffringInsp. Hoffman [ 1 ]

       When NBC gave the green light to Assignment Vienna to be part of a planned three-series wheel, the intended lead actor for the role had already found success on the big screen so passed on the starring spot in the television version. One of the actors approached to take his place was Robert Conrad, still fondly remembered from The Wild Wild West.
       The locale for the series was changed however. One source postulated that it was due the trouble of trying to film in the same city then hosting the 1972 Olympic Games. However, according to Wes Britton's The Encyclopedia of TV Spies, the change was more due to the "romance of the Austrian capitol".

       As stated above, this drama was made part of a three-series wheel called The Men in which each show took turns presenting an episode. The two sister series were Jigsaw which dealt with a California Bureau of Missing Persons investigator, and The Delphi Bureau which was, like this one, a spy series but significantly different.

       None of these three lasted very long before all three were cancelled.


1 The Last Target
Episode 1-1, first aired 09/28/1972
Director: Paul Krasny
Writers: Eric Bercovici, Jerry Ludwig

Just escaped from prison. Floyd Macklin is out for revenge on the prosecutor who put him away and Maj. Caldwell who caught him. When Jake Webster tries to help, Macklin escapes again and Webster is on the hook for aiding him.

2 Hot Potato
Episode 1-2, first aired 10/19/1972
Director: --
Writers: Eric Bercovici, Jerry Ludwig

As Jake Webster is about to deliver to Maj. Caldwell microfilm identifying a dozen crime bosses at a secret meeting, Caldwell is attacked and wounded.

3 Queen's Gambit
Episode 1-3, first aired 11/09/1972
Director: Paul Stanley
Writer: D.C. Fontana

A museum official from New York, Aline Masterson, hired Jake Webster to help recover the Royal Crown of Bosnia which was just stolen from her.

4 Annalisa
Episode 1-4, first aired 12/07/1972
Director: Bruce Kessler
Writers: Eric Bercovici, Jerry Ludwig

An old girlfriend of Jake Webster asks for his help proving her husband is innocent of killing his business partner.

5 There Was An Old Woman
Episode 1-5, first aired 01/13/1973
Director: Alexander Singer
Writer: Mark Rodgers

When an old woman is killed selling flowers outside his establishment, Major Caldwell is certain it was someone after Webster but he thinks she was the real target and goes hunting.

6 A Deadly Shade of Green
Episode 1-6, first aired 01/27/1973
Director: Alexander Singer
Writers: Eric Bercovici, Jerry Ludwig

Jake Webster is on the hunt for a stolen emerald. His search takes him beneath the Hofburg Palace where he finds others are also searching for it.

7 So Long, Charley
Episode 1-7, first aired 02/03/1973
Director: Paul Krasny
Writer: Gene L. Coon

When Jake Webster bumps into an old colleague named Stokes, he is stunned since Stokes was killed years before on a mission with Webster to blow up a power station. Webster does not buy the story Stokes tells of his survival.

8 Soldier of Fortune
Episode 1-8, first aired 03/10/1973
Director: Bruce Kessler
Writer: Gene L. Coon

Learning that a mercenary named Cort is in Vienna, he is certain Cort is there to meet with the former leader of an African nation who wants his power back.

MY COMMENTS

       Not enough people watched this show to keep it alive. That included me though not for the same reason. I saw both the television movie of this series and the one for The Delphi Bureau before I was sent overseas in the military. I enjoyed the heck out of both. Then I was gone and the series started without me rooting them on, which I would definitely have because both would have appealed to me. Unfortunately I would have been in a minority and so would have been saddened when they were cancelled. Instead, I never had the opportunity to mourn their passing.
       Now, if the prices and opportunity came, I would gladly watch them (did some on YouTube) but of course it is way too late.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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