Villains Whose Plans Didn’t Quite Come Together (Played by Patrick Malahide)

Into everyone’s life, a little rain must fall…  It’s sad but true that more than a few of the villains played by Patrick Malahide have been forced to endure the humiliation of their plans not coming together.  They can have money, henchmen, efficiency, and lots of motivation at their disposal, yet sadly, still fail to achieve their goals, sometimes in spectacular fashion.  So Admin and I thought we’d at least do them the honour of discussing a few of our favourites.

Peter Teller  |  Professor Fisher  |  Terrence Dirk-Brown  |  Mr. Hastymite  |  Mr. Lachaise

RF:  My choices are…

Peter Teller
(“Fortress 2:  Re-Entry“, 2000)

Type of Villain:

It's hard out here for a space prison warden. Villains Whose Plans Didn't Quite Come Together Played by Patrick Malahide

It’s hard out here for a space prison warden.

He’s the director of a space-based prison named the Fortress, which is orbiting Earth.  It would appear that Teller hasn’t been home in quite some time, because he’s beginning to go a bit doolally.  Or maybe he always was that way, and his father, who owns the corporation that built the Fortress, just sent him into space to be rid of him.  Either is entirely plausible.  Anyway, because Teller is an eeeeeeevil space warden, it’s in his job description that he has to torment the prisoners as sadistically as possible.

World Domination, or Personal Profit?

Admiring his new giant space gun. No double entendre here!

Admiring his new giant space gun. No double entendre here!

A little of both, really.  Unbeknownst to anyone on Earth, Teller (with the help of supercomputer Zed, who’s really his only friend out in space) has been using the convicts as slave labour to turn the Fortress into a giant weapon, using energy collected from the sun to power a huge laser gun pointed right at the Earth.   He’s been skimping on the convicts’ upkeep and treating them as disposable, so there’s lots of extra profit going into his pockets as it is, but ultimately, I presume his Grand Plan was to hold various Earth cities for ransom.  You know, Bond-villain style.  It’s actually not a bad plan, sorta kinda, and he almost gets away with it.

How Spectacularly Does He Fail, and Why?

Yep, that looks like a spectacular failure, all right.

Yep, that looks like a spectacular failure, all right.

Really spectacularly.  If your failure in outer space is plainly visible from Earth, you’ve really screwed up.  Teller’s downfall lies in making a few basic mistakes that more experienced supervillains would know to avoid – hopefully.  Firstly, he doesn’t reckon with his nemesis, convict John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert), being as resourceful as he is, nor does he reckon with his space prison’s workmanship being so shoddy that one guy with a shock baton can put a serious enough dent in it that atmosphere begins to escape.  Secondly, Teller gives an instruction to Zed to not pester him with pesky anomalous data and Zed, being rather literal, takes him at his word.  So when the Fortress really does begin to fall apart and the energy it has stored in its batteries begins to overload, Zed doesn’t tell him about anything until it’s a wee bit too late.  Also, most of Teller’s henchmen aren’t exactly all that competent, so he’s pretty much doomed.

Who Were Those Meddling Kids?

Facing off against his stepmum Susan

Facing off against his stepmum Susan

Teller has to contend with Brennick and his Rag-tag Gang of Rebels™, the unintentionally rebellious Zed (who doesn’t respond well, or at all, to Teller’s bullying), his own henchmen (most of whom try to flee the Fortress once becomes obvious it’s going to break up), and best of all, his stepmum, Susan (Pam Grier), who’s just as ruthless and ambitious as Teller, if not more so.  She appears to have Teller’s number, karmically speaking; she’s able to reduce him to a pouting, spluttering, ineffectual mess before he finally gets his space gun online.  Once it is online, she also tries to rally the rebellious convicts to her side to seize power from Teller, but they’re much too heroic to fall for that.  So, between Brennick, Susan, Zed, his own henchmen, and shoddy workmanship, Teller has more than enough problems on his hands.

Why We Rooted for Him Anyway:

Chewing the scenery just a bit

Chewing the scenery just a bit

I do have to give Teller points for being an extremely stylish villain, and for really buying into the whole notion of supervillain-ness.   At one point he dresses up in a farmer’s costume just to harvest a single strawberry from a window box in his office, making him reminiscent of some of the crazier “Avengers” villains (Steed and Emma Peel, not Marvel).  And he just seems to have so much fun sadistically gloating over the convicts while enjoying gourmet meals by himself in his office.  He (and Mr. Malahide) is/are also quite willing to chew the scenery a bit to get his point across, too.  So while he’s not very effective in the end, Teller is still incredibly entertaining to watch.

Does He Shop at Villains R Us?

Looking good in basic supervillain black

Looking good in basic supervillain black

Oh yes, indeed he does – or rather, he has his outfits brought up to him by shuttle.  Teller might’ve spent more on his wardrobe budget than he did on living expenses for everyone else on the Fortress.  His clothes are all nicely coordinated and tailored, and as befits an unstable prison warden who likes to skulk around obsessively spying on his charges, they’re all in very dark colours.   Obviously Teller has put all those ill-gotten profits to good use!  It really is a shame he had to die when the Fortress blew up; maybe, despite being electrocuted (long story) and blown up, he actually managed to escape on some secret shuttle and get back to Earth.  That would be nice.


Professor Fisher
(“The 39 Steps“, 2008)

Type of Villain:

Professor Fisher is the gent in the rakishly tilted fedora.

Professor Fisher is the gent in the rakishly tilted fedora.

Your basic clandestine superspy and friendly neighbourhood villain, who’s been going undetected for years, apparently.  He’s a handsome and filthy rich gent who lives in a castle in the Scottish Highlands and has his own biplane.  He also lives right next door to the Sinclairs; coincidentally enough, Victoria Sinclair (Lydia Leonard) turns out to be a superspy herself.  However, she apparently never noticed anything untoward about their neighbour, which really makes one wonder how good she is at her job.

World Domination, or Personal Profit?

He'd probably like to keep the castle after he's done with the spy business.

He’d probably like to keep the castle
after he’s done with the spy business.

Mostly world domination, although not by him personally – although he could probably handle it if he set his mind to it.  It’s pre-war 1914, and Fisher is in England to smooth the way for his employers, who happen to be the German government.  He’s after a code book that mild-mannered (but bored) engineer Richard Hannay (Rupert Penry-Jones) happened upon by chance when agent Scudder (an unlikely Eddie Marsan) was killed in front of him and entrusted it to Hannay’s care.   The notebook describes, in code, the Germans’ plans to wipe out the British Navy ahead of an invasion, so it’s kind of no wonder Professor Fisher wants to get his hands on it by whatever means necessary.  However, he’s fastidious enough that while he’ll resort to torture if he has to, he won’t enjoy it.

How Spectacularly Does He Fail, and Why?

When you miss your ride home by <i>that</i> much.

When you miss your ride home by that much.

Sadly, for such an obviously accomplished superspy, Professor Fisher’s downfall is a bit of a damp squib – literally.   He almost manages to make a daring getaway by U-boat and it would’ve looked totally stylish if he’d been able to pull it off.  Fisher needs to bring Victoria’s uncle George  (David Haig)  back to Germany with him because George has memorized the notebook with his eidetic memory, but George gets cold feet at the last second and begins to argue.  The ensuing discussion delays their escape long enough for Victoria and Hannay to arrive and start a gunfight with Fisher’s henchmen.  Deciding to save himself, Fisher gets into the rowboat to meet the submarine – but one henchman’s muscle power isn’t enough to get him there in time.  The U-boat submerges and departs, leaving Fisher standing forlornly in the rowboat.  If only he’d invested in an outboard motor or an extra pair of oars, or decided to escape in his biplane!  Instead, he’s brought back to shore and arrested.  It’s an ignominious end for him.

Who Were Those Meddling Kids?

Those meddling kids, bickering as they try to evade capture.

Those meddling kids, bickering as they try to
evade capture.

It’s entirely Hannay and Victoria who get in Fisher’s way, with an assist from Captain Kell (Alex Jennings) at the Secret Service Bureau, and poor little Scudder, whose notebook was the maguffin that set the entire thing off.    Up until then, Fisher had a pretty successful operation going; he’d stockpiled tons of explosives in his castle’s cellars and gone undetected for years, despite living next to a British intelligence agent.  He even asks Hannay to join him at one point, but Hannay is far too virtuous and heroic to accept the offer.

Why We Rooted for Him Anyway:

He's remarkably genial for an enemy spy.

He’s remarkably genial for an enemy spy.

Well, Fisher was just so gosh-darned stylish…!  He had his own castle and a biplane, and he seemed miles smarter than everyone he was up against.  He also appeared to show some genuine regret when he threatened to pull out Victoria’s fingernails in order to get Hannay to talk, because it was such a crude thing to do; he seemed to prefer more refined methods, like talking people into seeing things his way.  He was remarkably genial when explaining his scheme to Hannay; plans for taking over Britain aside, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy.   And he almost got Hannay to accept his logic that Britain was too “smug and complacent” to be worth saving, so he was pretty persuasive, too.   All in all, Fisher was very personable for a spy.  Plus it would’ve been so cool if he could’ve gotten away.

Does He Shop at Villains R Us?

Just because the situation is bad, doesn't mean you can't look good.

Just because the situation is bad,
doesn’t mean you can’t look good.

Yes, in back in the exclusive, bespoke department.  Fisher’s clothes are immaculately tailored and suit him down to the ground, from his Norfolk jacket to his long wool overcoat, to his lovely fedoras and long leather trenchcoat.  One has to assume that he has a matching set of bespoke luggage (with lots of hidden compartments and nifty gadgets) to go with it.  He probably left behind an incredibly luxurious wardrobe when he tried to escape.  Fisher is definitely a villain who appreciates the good things in life.


Admin:  And my picks

Terrence Dirk-Brown
(“Smack and Thistle“, 1991)

Type of Villain:

Finalizing a deal with a peer of the realm.

Dirk-Brown is a highly aspirational London gangster turned “legitimate” international businessman.  He apparently used some money he earned from a “security blag” (that is robbery) to fund a successful nightclub operation.  From there he has grown developing a firm called Barcham Electronics which is poised to expand into Europe.  Of course, being “legitimate” he’s going through it in a somewhat dodgy manner with the help of the corrupt MP Wilkes, a decidedly unsavory peer of the realm Sir Horace Wimbol, and ruthless American businesswoman Ms. Kane.  While Dirk-Brown’s fetching Cockney accent shows humbler origins, he has a clear respect for the likes of Sir Horace Wimbol and obviously looks up to him.  Dirk-Brown is a very motivated sort and can be painfully ruthless when need be.

World Domination, or Personal Profit?

“Listen, do you fancy going to an opera or something.”

A bit of both.  Dirk-Brown is most certainly a very ambitious man who wants to make loads of money and wield influence on an international level.  However, he is also very patriotic.  Like Prof. Fisher, he wants to see his country flourish.  His company Barcham Electronics is poised to enter the world market, and he is extremely proud that a British firm, hiring British workers, has such potential.  Yep, that’s right, he has used the proceeds from his criminal past to establish a firm that will provide employment for British workers.  He probably has hopes of earning an OBE some day and possibly a Knighthood.  Maybe that is why he has a double-barrel name.  I wonder if he affected that himself in order to be more like the aristocracy he clearly looks up to.

How Spectacularly Does He Fail, and Why?

Things got a little explosive.

Pretty spectacularly indeed considering he manages to nearly get blown up for all his efforts.  The reason why he fails though is an interesting one.  It turns out that he simply wasn’t evil enough to be playing with the big boys and girls.  Wimbol and Kane were importing “spare parts” from Washington and flying in and out of Honduras.  It seems his venture into the big world of business wound up being used as a drug smuggling operation.  That goes against his ethos completely.

What makes it all the more disgusting is that Wimbol’s own daughter Elizabeth is a drug addict herself.  He knows first hand the sort of havoc drugs cause.   Poor Dirk-Brown’s entire world view has been destroyed by these vile people.  To make matters all the worse, when he threatens to fight back they try to have him killed by bombing his lock-up.  Thankfully he survives, and we get a taste of just how ruthless a gangster he must have been.  Wimbol and Kane won’t be a problem to anyone else ever again.  Despite claiming to be ruined, I like to think Dirk-Brown managed to bounce back, even if it takes another “security blag”.  If he targets a crooked company that imports drugs on the side, it would actually be well worth it.

Who Were Those Meddling Kids?

Abel finds the papers in the briefcase.

Well, the whole mess started when the corrupt MP’s briefcase was stolen by a rent boy named Ariel who was servicing him in a men’s restroom.  Ariel couldn’t open the case without busting the lock, so he handed it over to his clever friend Abel.  Abel opened the case and found all the damning documents.  He decided to pay a visit to one of Wimbol’s addresses hoping to find something worth stealing.  Instead he found Wimbol’s daughter Lizzie.  They fall in love and he helps her come off drugs.  But, because of them, everything starts to go horribly wrong for Dirk-Brown.  Granted, things would have gone wrong anyway since he was being outplayed by even dirtier scoundrels, but Ariel, Abel and Lizzie got the bad ball rolling.  Sadly, Ariel died after Dirk-Brown’s two goons chased him off a rooftop, but Lizzie and Abel came out of it all OK….and free from Sir Horace Wimbol after Dirk-Brown took care of him.

Why We Rooted for Him Anyway:

“Barcham Electronics, that’s the future.”

Oh, he’s so delightfully confident and ambitious, and his motivations are actually very good.  His sense of patriotism might be odd considering how he came about his money, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he deliberately chose to hit a firm he felt wasn’t working for Britain’s best interests.  Of course that is pure speculation and wouldn’t justify the criminality, but I’m going with that anyway. 😉  But, one thing is for sure, when you compare him to the other villains of the piece, he is definitely the only one who has any sense of personal honor or a higher purpose.  Why are those always the villains whose plans don’t quite go right?  It just isn’t fair.

Does He Shop at Villains R Us?

One of his rent-a-goons.

Dirk-Brown prefers its subdivision Gangsters R Us.  He wears the standard issue high end gangster wear:  Pinstripe suits, matching silk ties and pocket poofs and trench coats.  He has a couple of dull-witted rent-a-goons that must have come with a BOGO offer.  I really liked his mock-up model showcasing his plans of future domination, but it was just a regular model.  It didn’t shoot lasers or anything cool like that.


Mr. Hastymite
(“The December Rose“, 1986)

Type of Villain:

If Dickens and Poe had collaborated.

He is an evil Victorian gothic villain who could easily be the result of a collaboration between Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe.  With his equally Dickensian partner-in-crime, the rumpled and frizzy Lord Hobart, Mr. Hastymite is using his government position to steal valuables from wealthy but innocent foreigners under the guise of fighting terrorism.

They trick an unwitting police officer, the aptly named Inspector Creaker, to do their dirty work by having him kill anyone who becomes an inconvenience to them.  Scoundrels!

World Domination, or Personal Profit?

We’re dealing with cunning individuals. Spies, socialists, anarchists.

Unlike the two devils previously discussed (Professor Fisher and Dirk-Brown) there is really nothing particularly patriotic about Mr. Hastymite.  Oh, he uses the illusion of patriotism in order to trick the gullible Inspector Creaker into committing unspeakable acts, but the people he is going after are definitely not anarchists, spies or terrorists.

In fact, they are more likely to be innocent children.  No, Mr. Hastymite is definitely in it all for the money.  He obviously has become very accustomed to a life of luxury and will go to any length to enjoy it.  He seems to spend an inordinate amount of time at Lord Hobart’s estate, and there is a hint given that he is enjoying an affair with Hobart’s younger wife.  Mr. Hastymite truly believes in living for his own pleasure.  The world outside of his own little domain in London doesn’t seem to hold much interest for him despite his lofty position.

How Spectacularly Does He Fail, and Why?

Rub-a-dub-dub…

He fails even more spectacularly than Dirk-Brown because when Mr. Hastymite gets blown up, he really gets blown up.  Granted, it was bound to happen.  Relying on the gullibility of a guilt ridden copper suffering from PTSD probably isn’t going work in the long term. At some point he is going to find out and the results are going to be explosive…literally.  Inspector Creaker finally becomes aware of the situation and his ghastly role in it and decides to resolve matters once and for all.  Reversing roles, he plays the final trick on Hastymite and Hobart by taking them out in a rowboat with the promise of money.  But, it winds up being a double murder suicide instead as Inspector Creaker deliberately blows the three of them up.

Who Were Those Meddling Kids?

It’s Barnacle under all that soot.

A chimney boy named Barnacle ran off with a locket that Hastymite and Hobart had stole from one of their victims.  They needed it back in order to secure funding from her Russian father who believed her to still be alive.  Inspector Creaker’s orders were to get the locket and kill the boy.  But, Barnacle is pretty hard to kill, especially since he has the protection of boatman Tom Gosling and his sailing friends Mrs. McDipper and her daughter Miranda.  Together they solve the mystery of the locket, revealing Mr. Hastymite’s and Lord Hobard’s evil agenda.

Why We Rooted for Him Anyway:

The best vampire since Sir Christopher.

Have you met Barnacle?  Oh, I’m just being facetious.  No, we absolutely did not want him to kill Barnacle.  But, he is so utterly smooth with this gothic villainy that I sure didn’t want him getting blown up in a dinky rowboat either.   I didn’t care about Creaker and Hobart, but I really wanted Mr. Hastymite to turn into a bat or something and fly away.  I have to think that like Sir Christopher Lee’s indomitable Count Dracula, Mr. Hastymite found a way to piece himself back together and resume being the coolest looking Victorian villain to ever sport a pair of sharp edged sideburns.

Does He Shop at Villains R Us?

Walking stick courtesy of Villains R Us.

Of course he does.  I think he goes there for his shaves also.  As just mentioned, he really does have the coolest sideburns imaginable.  They are almost as sharp as his cheekbones.  I’m pretty sure he gets his evening wear from there also.  His top hat and cane look like something straight out of a Victorian tale of horror.  He is exquisitely styled.  No wonder Lady Hobart couldn’t keep her wandering hand off his finely pressed jacket.


And One Honourable Mention:

Mr. Lachaise
(“The World Is Not Enough“, 1999)

Lachaise: Perhaps the briefest villain career ever

Lachaise: Perhaps the briefest villain career ever

RF:  Poor Lachaise!  Of all the villains Mr. Malahide has played, he’s the one whose plans are thwarted the most swiftly and ignominiously, before the opening credits have even rolled.  All he had in mind was a modest (for a Swiss banker) bit of underhanded personal profit; I don’t think he was planning on running afoul of a vast international espionage scheme, just lining his pockets in business as usual.  He’s got all the right qualities for a villain:  he’s insufferably smug, well dressed, has henchmen, and engages in some dreadful punning wordplay.  But sadly for Lachaise, he’s up against James Bond and is far out of his league.  He barely has time to light a cigar before he’s gone.  🙁  Still, taking an assassin’s dagger to the back of the neck is a pretty spectacular way to go.  We’ll always remember you, Lachaise!

Admin:  Awww, he was lovely, wasn’t he?  Unfortunately it turned out the world was more than enough for him.  🙁

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