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MASQUERADE

masquerade_tv_m
 
Full Name: Masquerade
Nationality: American
Organization: NIA
Occupation Agency

Creator: Glen A. Larson
Time Span: 1983 - 1984

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Mr. Lavender is the head of the NIA.
       That acronym stands for the National Intelligence Agency which is, just before the first recorded adventure takes place, a small but highly efficient cog in the American clandestine community fighting the Soviets and other enemies of or threats to the U.S. As stated it is led by Mr. Lavender, a former operative himself.
       Though its name would imply it is a standalone organization, and it definitely operates that way, it is apparently an autonymous branch of the Department of Justice, at least according to the id badge that Lavender displays when needed, complete with a gold shield and the designation of 'Special Agent'. This could actually be the case but then again, considering the subtefuge that Lavender and his team will employ regularly on their missions, it could be a clever misdirection.
       'Masquerade', used to encompass the dozen adventures we have of this group, is possibly the cover term for the current policy of the NIA to makes use of ordinary civilians who are chosen on a per-mission basis to assist Lavender and his two remaining agents.
       I say 'remaining' because most of the other operatives of the NIA have been eliminated by a very nasty KGB agent who is working his way up the ladder in the organization by removing his opposition in the NIA. Most have been dispatched by the time we are introduced to Lavender and we will watch his novel approach to taking on his nemesis.
       "The United States of America would like to invite you to come spy with me." So say Mr. Lavender at the beginning of each episode. He does so just before he presents a business card with an impressive looking governmental seal at the top and a brief invitation in an attractive script font saying, "You are Cordially Invited TO SPY for The United States of America". The offering is done with a small but friendly smile at the end.
       Mind you, at the same time this dapper looking man in his mid-50's is making this interesting offer to all of us, showing this card so nicely and officiously in one hand, he is holding a very nasty-looking automatic complete with silencer in the other. The implication is quite obvious.
       In addition to the attractive offer of being able to help the country, each civilian is promised one year's salary for what hopefully would just be a few days' work, assuming the untrained amateur is able to survive whatever plan Mr. Lavender came up with. The 'untrained', of course, refers to a lack of skills in being an operative - each invitee is quite trained in his or her own line of work, be it a teacher, plumber, musician, or whatever. That person is brought onto the team for that one mission and would likely never be approached again.
       The two agents, both with alliterative names, Lavender still has are both fairly young people (late 20's or very early 30's). Casey Collins is a very attractive woman who tends towards a touch of sarcasm or peevishness. Danny Doyle is a handsome and athletic looking man who shows a constant eagerness for activity. Both have been operational for some time, judging by the ease with which they work with Lavender and the confidence they demonstrate.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:13
First Appearance:1983
Last Appearance:1984
Network:ABC

REGULAR CAST
Rod TaylorMr. Masquerade [ 1 ]
Kirstie AlleyCasey Collins [ 1 ]
Greg EviganDanny Doyle [ 1 ]
1 Pilot
Episode 1-1, first aired 12/15/1983
Director: Peter H. Hunt
Writer: Glen A. Larson

A very nasty KGB operative has gotten a list of the names of NIA agents and have been eliminating them. With just a couple left, Mr. Lavender uses skilled civilians to bring down that agent before he rises to the top of the KGB.

2 Diamonds
Episode 1-2, first aired 12/22/1983
Director: Peter Crane
Writer: William Read Woodfield

A rogue spy is offering for sale the codes for the frequency used by American missiles. The price is $1 mil in diamonds. Mr. Lavender does not want to pay that nor does he want the Soviets to get the codes so he decides to act.

3 Girls for Sale
Episode 1-3, first aired 12/29/1983
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: Glen A. Larson

A very dangerous man using ninja warriors has kidnapped a US senator's daughter and is demanding as ransom secret information from the intelligence committee he serves on. It is the job of Mr. Lavender and his team to get her free.

4 The Defector
Episode 1-4, first aired 01/05/1984
Director: Peter Crane
Writer: Andrew Schneider

A Soviet physicist offers to defect but Mr. Lavender knows that as long as he is alive, a KGB kill team known as "Section 9" will be after him. The answer then is to 'kill' the scientist.

5 Caribbean Holiday
Episode 1-5, first aired 01/12/1984
Director: John Llewellyn Moxey
Writer: Mark Rodgers

A former NIA agent has been hired by a former Caribbean dictator to help him stage a coup to get back in control. To stop him, Mr. Lavender and team join a cruise ship where the agent and his mercenary band are also hauling the weapons bound for the rebels.

6 Five Days
Episode 1-6, first aired 01/19/1984
Director: John Llewellyn Moxey
Writer: Mark Rodgers

A foreign woman working for the NIA has a microchip vital to rescue over a hundred men trapped on a sunken submarine. She is being help in a high security prison in Portugal. Casey Collins must go inside to get her out.

7 Oil
Episode 1-7, first aired 01/26/1984
Director: Phil Bondelli
Writer: William Read Woodfield

After Islamic terrorists take over a Kuwaiti oil field manned by Americans, Mr. Lavender and his team must come up with a plan to free the hostages since the demands of the terrorists will not be met.

8 The French Connection
Episode 1-8, first aired 03/30/1984
Director: Peter Crane
Writer: Andrew Schneider

Much needed vaccine headed to fight a cholera outbreak in Africa has been snatched by a French crime syndicate. It is the job of Mr. Lavender and his team to find a way to get it back.

9 Winnings
Episode 1-9, first aired 04/06/1984
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: William Read Woodfield

A casino owner has a missile tracking device which he is offering to the KGB for a lot of money. To stop him, Mr. Lavender brings on professional gamblers to break the bank.

10 The Sleeper
Episode 1-10, first aired 04/13/1984
Writer: Mark Rodgers

An American general is really a double agent for the KGB. He has recordings of a Middle Eastern conference which he is trying to get to his bosses but Mr. Lavender and team are out to stop him.

11 Spanish Gambit
Episode 1-11, first aired 04/20/1984
Director: Phil Bondelli
Writers: Howard Berk, Andrew Schneider

To get back stolen satellite defense equipment, Mr. Lavender and team must not only fight the KGB but also a US operative gone bad.

12 Spying Down to Rio
Episode 1-12, first aired 04/27/1984
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: Andrew Schneider

[plot unknown]

13 Flashpoint
Episode 1-13, first aired 05/04/1984
Director: Phil Bondelli
Writer: Charles Kinbote

[plot unknown]

MY COMMENTS

       Back when this show first aired on ABC, I was roughly the same age as the two co-stars, Kirstie Alley and Greg Evigan. Being a healthy male with healthy interests, I was hooked on this show because of the alluring Ms. Alley. Of course, any show dealing with spies and action was of interest to me and I was a huge Rod Taylor fan from way back. But it is Ms. Alley's sultry Casey Collins that made sure I was coming back for every episode. Unfortunately there would not be that many of them.
       This show was a take on the much earlier Mission: Impossible original concept of pulling civilians in on an ad-hoc basis. Now, in the MI universe, it was made fairly clear that while the people chosen for each mission had regular jobs outside the MI team, they were already trained enough to be in the portfolio used by Dan Briggs and Jim Phelps to choose from. In the Masquerade universe, the civilians really were total novices to the NIA world. We were able to watch as each person was approached which was a fun part of each show.

GRADE

My Grade: B

Your Average Grade:   A-

YOUR OPINIONS

GoldenI A- 2021-03-21

I was eating every morsel of espionage in the early 80s. Loved this brief series. Disappointed it was cancelled


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