QUILLER. “The Price of Violence.” BBC, 60 minutes. 29 August 1975. (Season 1, Episode 1.) Michael Jayston (Quiller), Moray Watson (Angus Kinloch). Guest Cast: Sinéad Cusack, Ed Bishop. Screenplay: Michael J. Bird, based on the character created by Adam Hall (Elleston Trevor). Director: Peter Graham Scott. Currently available on YouTube.

   It’s been over five years since the greatly missed Michael Shonk reviewed Adam Hall’s Tango Briefing, the fifth adventure of the master spy known only as Quiller. Along with that review he discussed the BBC TV series based on the books. At that time, only three of the episodes were known to have survived. Lo and behold, the whole season has recently turned up, easily found by doing a search for them on YouTube. I only wish that Michael were still with us to see them.

   There is much to like in “The Price of Violence,” the very first episode, but something I found as awfully rough going was that there is no dialogue at all in the first nine minutes, only scenes of some of the usual Mideast violence in Israel and Lebanon. Without knowing who any of the characters are, or — truthfully — no idea of what is happening, it all goes by too vaguely and with no particular context or meaning, then only to be forgotten once the story itself begins.

   Which has Quiller home in disgrace, his mission in the war zone a failure. As a penance, he’s not cashiered outright, nor put in a desk job, but put into a state of semi-limbo instead, a situation to which he does not take kindly. But his immediate superior (played impeccably well by Moray Watson), as well as the director of the totally secret “Bureau,” have other plans for him, and he’s ever so subtly nudged into becoming the bodyguard of the head of the World Food Commission, a totally innocuous man who otherwise has no play in the proceedings.

   Involved, however, is the man’s legal advisor, played to perfection by Sinéad Cusack, and sparks between Quiller and herself fly immediately. (She was to turn up again in two later episodes.) Quiller is a loner and a cynic, but as a man deeply involved in the spy business, never carries a gun. The sad but steely-eyed Michael Jayston was made for the part. George Segal, who played Quiller in the movies, was not.

   The series lasted for only one season of thirteen episodes, all now available, at least for the time being.