Gideon’s Way – To Catch A Tiger

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When Gideon hears the name John Borgman (Walter Brown), he reacts instantly.  He always had a lingering suspicion that Borgman murdered his first wife, but nothing could be proved.  Now he has a confession from a dying woman (one of the nurses who attended Mrs Borgman) who alleges her patient was poisoned with an overdose of morphine.

As the nurse subsequently dies, Gideon doesn’t have a witness who will stand up to cross-examination, nor does he have any real evidence.  But his suspicion is more than enough for him to reopen the case.

Our first sight of John Borgman demonstrates that he’s a hard and ruthless man.  He’s discovered that one of his employees, Samuels (Meredith Edwards), has been stealing small amounts of money.  When he asks why, Samuels tells him that his wife is an invalid and he needed the money for her.

This is an interesting scene for several reasons.  Although Samuels has worked for the company for twenty years, and his crime does has extenuating circumstances, Borgman has no compunction in firing him on the spot and insisting that the police have to be called.  During this brief and unpleasant meeting, Borgman is attended by  his secretary, Clare Selby (Erica Rogers).  She was responsible for bringing Samuels’ falsifications to Borgman’s attention and takes a barely disguised pleasure in his downfall.

We meet the latest Mrs Borgman (Vanda Godsell) shortly afterwards and she succinctly sums Clare Selby up.  “That cool, cute Selby. She’s got eyes like a cat. They’re hard, like ice, and acquisitive.”  Mrs Borgman is convinced that Clare Selby is Borgman’s latest lover and by her general tone (and the drink in her hand) it’s clear that their marriage is in terminal decline.

Samuels poisons his wife before shooting himself.  With Borgman’s threat of the police hanging over his head he clearly couldn’t see any other way out.  It’s a tragic scene – nicely acted by both Meredith Edwards and Patsy Smart (as Mrs Samuels).

But it does give Gideon a way into Borgman’s office – as he suggests that Samuels’ fraud might be more widespread than it first appears.  He doesn’t care about the fraud of course, but any excuse to root about is welcome.

Supt Fred Lee (Norman Bird) and Sgt Carmichael (Glyn Houston) are the officers assigned by Gideon to investigate Borgman’s books.  After being left alone in Borgman’s office late at night, they discover a secret draw with a hypodermic and a bottle of morphine tablets.  Gideon’s delighted and arranges a search-warrant for the following day, so it can be “found” in Borgman’s presence.  To Catch A Tiger shows us that Gideon isn’t above breaking the law when he believes it’s justified.

Raymond Huntley gives a typically strong performance as Borgman’s defending council Sir Percy Richmond, who rips the poor Supt Lee to shreds.  It’s interesting that the programme seems to be asking us to side with Lee as he withers under Sir Percy’s cross-examination, but most of Sir Percy’s objections are perfectly correct.  Lee did enter Borgman’s office and search his desk without a warrant (and with no witnesses present, any evidence found should be worthless and inadmissible in court).  That Gideon then decided to issue a search-warrant the next day to try and make it official doesn’t really make up for the laxity in procedure.

What’s even more confusing is that earlier in the episode they’d exhumed the first Mrs Borgman and found she was full of morphine but hadn’t bothered to mention this fact in court!

Somewhat lacking in logic, To Catch A Tiger isn’t a particularly enthralling episode.  As ever, there’s some decent guest stars (Norman Bird, Raymond Huntley) but sadly that’s about all.

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