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  • "The Equalizer" was an action-adventure TV series unlike any that I had ever seen before. It effectively mixed espionage, crime drama, and the private eye genres into a wonderful film noir package. Robert McCall (played to perfection by Edward Woodward) was no Mike Hammer, nor was he meant to be. He relied more on brains than brawn and his plans worked like a game of chess. Whether he attended an embassy affair or was running down a lead on a guns dealer in the South Bronx, McCall seemed right at home.

    Disenchanted with his cloak-and-dagger life in the CIA, and perhaps seeking some redemption for some of his darker exploits in the name of God and Country, he broke away from "the Company," and offered his services to people in trouble.

    McCall's strength was his abilities as a strategist and tactician. Although he was quite able in shootouts and fisticuffs, he tended to leave the rough stuff to other operatives who sometimes took time off from their day jobs (usually in the CIA) to work for McCall. One of his most trusted colleagues was his comrade-in-arms Mickey Kostmeyer (played by Keith Szarabajka), a Company man who seemed willing to dive into any dangerous situation for the thrill.

    Although McCall resigned from the CIA, he continued to maintain contact with his friend and former boss, a man known only as Control (played by Robert Lansing). There is a history of camraderie between Control and McCall, but Control's job tends to get in the way of that friendship. When one of Control's operations involved lying to McCall, and McCall confronted him, Control's only response was, "It's what I do for a living, Robert."

    All in all, a wonderful show with high production values. I'm only sorry it lasted four seasons.
  • "The Equalizer" was a unique and amazing series. I followed each episode with great interest. The ensemble of talent was remarkable - Edward Woodward having started out as a Shakespearean actor.

    Hostile comments against this brilliant series derive largely from an inability to understand what McCall represented and who he was. A veteran of the British Army, he served in the Suez conflict and - while in the SAS - in operations in Malaya against Maoist gunmen. On leaving the British service he was recruited by the CIA who had apparently heard of his SAS exploits and talent in intelligence gathering. As his mother was an American, he could qualify as a US citizen - combine that with his last name, and he hardly qualifies as an Englishman. In the CIA he worked in Vietnam, where he met many of his later New York allies.

    The character of Robert McCall may be in his early-mid fifties, but has a background of training and experience which would humble any supposedly tough petty-thug. For better organised enemies, McCall has a loyal following of friends to call on, including a selection of law enforcement personnel and ex-Special Forces men.

    Therefore, he is not the tea-sipping greying middle-aged gentleman he may appear to be at first.

    I adored this show. It requires a certain depth of historical knowledge to fully understand.
  • I have seen all the episodes at least 3 times; first on CBS, then USA, and then on A&E. Now it is on Hallmark.

    Like other reviewers, I found the show refreshing and unique. I thought the choice of Edward Woodward was curious (a Brit for a Yank?)But I was willing to let it slide through.

    Robert Lansing's portrayal as a District or Station Chief was well cast. Like most American TV series, it takes a season or two to become really good. The show had good writing, good actors and actresses, and good cinematography. I think that it was one of the best series produced.

    The Robert McCall character had the potential of becoming a cardboard character. Woodward's acting skills prevented that, thank God. I found the premise of a disillusioned CIA Case Officer to be believable. The look-and-feel of McCall reminded me of the legendary William King Harvey of Indianapolis. It is uncanny.

    I found the story line of internal CIA `political' struggles to be realistic. Remember, this was just after the infamous Senator Frank Church Commission which effectively gutted the CIA. We built the CIA to prevent any more Pearl Harbors. Then through internal political dissention (and ideology sympathy) we made it a Hollow, blind Man. Many veteran Case Officers were `forced out' at that time.

    In the Army I made the acquaintance of some Mickey Kostmayer types. I liked the acting of Keith Szarabajka. His naturalness made the character believable according to the real people that I met.

    After Woodward's heart attack, I thought that the inclusion of Richard Jordan was well cast. I was sorry to see his character fade out. He was just starting to come into his own.

    The technical aspects were, at the time, quite startling. The `Trade Craft' was superb. I never did learn if the writers had access to old Case Officers or not. There is one scene where McCall tracks down someone using recorded voices from the telephone system. The NSA must have had fits over that one.

    I have several favorite episodes, but one of two that stands out in my mind is where McCall is trying to teach street punks about what death is all about. He takes them to a morgue to see a stiff. While there, he introduces them to an old colleague who tells them about Hell. It was quite chilling, but very accurate.

    The other episode is where he is trapped in a wedding reception as a hostage. The techniques and tactics that McCall used were very real. It should be required viewing for future operatives. Like other reviewers, I was sorry to see it cancelled. I felt that it had a few more seasons left.

    One of the other reviewers mentions that the Equalizer replacement was Wiseguy. Interesting that, like the Equalizer, Wiseguy was modeled after a real person (Donnie Brasko) and a real situation. Yes, very interesting.
  • A very strong series during its initial run and in the occasional burst of reruns that can be found occasionally.

    Edward Woodward is a superb actor, and was a sharp contrast to most other private detectives of the day (and indeed, even today). The 80's might as well have been called the "Era of the P.I." with so many series centered around them (Magnum P.I., Simon and Simon, Riptide, even Miami Vice and the other police shows). But Robert McCall was an entirely different kind of detective. He was a seemingly mild mannered Englishman, who dressed sharply and drove a cool Jaguar. He rarely engaged in any kind of physical struggles, yet was probably the most menacing of any television P.I. While the others were jumping onto the hoods of cars and duking it out with the bad guys, McCall's quiet presence and absolute lack of any fear whatsoever was thrilling. The fact that a middle aged man who looks more like a University professor than a detective could look so menacing and literally HARDCORE speaks volumes about Woodward's acting capability.

    Probably the best theme music ever written, as well.
  • The Equalizer-like so many shows from the 80's-is pure class.

    It had a very dark premise. Robert McCall was a guy who helped people whose lives were in danger and had no one to turn to. Woodward was very serious and menacing as Robert McCall. McCall may not have been a young man and may not have been capable of jumping onto the top of a van or chasing after the bad guys on foot but he was dangerous. His voice was menacing and he put the fear into every bad guy he ever met. Once he took on an assignment (sometimes for no pay)he would not stop until he finished the job. Many of the bad guys were killed by McCall.

    The best thing about this show was the premise. In the 1980's we had a lot of altruistic heroes (such as The A-Team and Michael Knight)who always helped the needy and always put the bad guy away-no matter how much above the law the bad guys thought they were. McCall was always there for people who needed him. That was the great thing about this show. Nowadays on TV, characters are out for themselves and will betray people on a whim, even the good guys. The likes of McCall were not like that-they were caring. No-body could kill them, scare them off or pay them off. They were true heroes.
  • Amid designer-superficiality like "Miami Vice" and myriad juvenile Glen Larson productions, "The Equalizer" came as a breath of fresh air when first broadcast in 1985. After many years in the wilderness, American studios recognised the intelligence of their audience and produced a well-scripted, well-acted action drama with character, depth and real bite.

    The central premise was of a British military officer named Robert McCall who had served the latter half of his career with an American intelligence agency nickednamed "The Company" (although it approximated the real-life CIA) but had grown disillusioned with its methods. The series starts with McCall having resigned and decided to use his espionage, intelligence-gathering and combat skills on a lone crusade to champion the victims of crime, apparently as some form of atonement for his shady past.

    But McCall could never fully escape The Company. Occasionally he needed some of its resources to help him tackle the job at hand. While his ex-superior, known only as "Control" (played by Robert Lansing), was sympathetic to McCall's reasons for quitting, he was never fully prepared to let him go, both because of his skills and the sensitive secrets he carried with him. Indeed many episodes saw McCall being drawn back into Company operations. The two men remained friends but their relationship was on a constant knife-edge (and often led to some of the series' best "stand off" dialogue moments).

    The first two seasons wrought a tremendous variety in interesting story lines, had good dialogue and the performances of Edward Woodward, his regular co-stars and the often-abrasive interplay between their characters lifted the show further.

    Location shooting in New York was used highly effectively and Stewart Copeland's startling, unique musical style lent the show a sparky, effervescent, slightly off-beat air.

    The staging of action scenes was reasonable, though would never match the sensational jousts witnessed in Brit series such as The Sweeney and The Professionals. In fairness, though, The Equalizer trod a more realistic path in this respect.

    The series' sole fault, during the first three seasons, was that the scripts became rather formulaic. With a few notable exceptions, the plots tended to revolve around a well-established, predictable pattern: McCall would receive a call from some distressed individual being terrorised; they would meet to discuss the problem at hand; McCall would then use his dubious contacts to dig up some dirt on the aggressor, who McCall would then threaten and, ultimately, end up having to kill - though all imbued with a liberal dose of pathos, of course!

    The production schedule on the series was frenetic and with most scenes requiring the involvement of Woodward, it maybe shouldn't have been a surprise that he, a heavy smoker, suffered a heart attack during filming on the third season in 1987. Actor Richard Jordan was brought in to lighten McCall's load for several episodes. While a perfectly understandable move, in many viewers' minds it appeared that Jordan was taking over.

    By the time of the fourth season Woodward had returned full-time and Jordan was phased out. But a necessary reduction in the strenuous exercise regime Woodward had previously followed meant he was far from the dynamic powerhouse he had once been. The show took on a new direction and embraced socially-sensitive themes. (In one episode a small boy is dying of AIDS and being harassed by frightened, ignorant neighbours.) Although audience rating were not as strong as before, they remained high...

    Unfortunately CBS was apparently suffering from internal power struggles and some of its senior staff wanted to launch new series at the expense of existing ones. "The Equalizer" was axed after completing its usual 22-episode production. Neither Woodward nor a huge campaign of public support could convince CBS to change its mind.

    The situation for the UK was actually worse. For reasons that have never been clear, proper peak-time screenings (on the ITV network) of the final season stalled after a few episodes. Naturally many Brits assumed the show had been cancelled mid-season. The remaining eventually aired via regional syndication in late-night "graveyard" slots with no publicity. In fact some ITV regions opted out completely, the affected editions being buried amongst repeat runs in the 1990s. It was an astonishing attitide to adopt as the show had actually been even more successful in the UK than its home country! Once can only suppose that denial of a complete network run was due to CBS.

    The series had to wait for many years until it was made available on videocassette and even then only nine episodes from the first season were issued. Yet - probably to CBS' embarrassment - repeat runs continued to demonstrate the show's enduring appeal. In early 2008 the first season was issued on DVD in the US and UK. But even then problems continued. The American set has a welcome addition of an audio commentary by the series' creator Michael Sloan but the episodes suffer from several mysterious substitutions of incidental music. The picture quality on the UK set is notably "scratchy" and has been overly compressed for digitisation.

    However with efforts under way to launch a movie version in 2009, there is clearly still an audience for this show... and deservedly so.
  • mm-3926 June 2004
    I like this show. Robert McCall was a company man with a guilty conscious who tried to find redemption through doing good works. Robert must have broken many cold war eggs to make many omletes. McCall's skills were now used to help the defenseless. This show like many other great 80 shows had a similar story lines. Where the Equalizer differed is with his method of intelligence. Like an intelligence officer Robert plotted, probed, planned, and visualized. Luck and the ability to out wit the opponent made for an interesting television show. Nice seeing this over the self centered tripe of todays TV. I never seen another show like this on TV. They should make this into a movie. I bet the old BBC show the Naturalizer was an influence for the shows producers. 8 out of 10 baby
  • A former CIA spy (Edward Woodward) is now a private investigator that helps out clients with problems that are beyond the normal authorities in "The Equalizer", one of the better series of its type during the late-1980s. The show went on for five seasons on CBS and did fairly well in the ratings department. There is definitely a hard and dark edge to this series which has been somewhat forgotten over the years but still packs a punch with its adult themes and story lines. Woodward dominated here while others (son William Zabka in particular) came and went in a revolving door of regulars and guest stars. A heart attack suffered by Woodward in real life during the middle of the run looked like it might kill the concept for good, but "The Equalizer" quietly went on without a hitch until it was finally canceled by the network in 1989. 4 stars out of 5.
  • The consensus of the other reviewers is that this is an excellent detective/mystery series; certainly I agree with that and probably cannot add anything of substance to their comments. As to the program, all I will say is Edward Woodword's fine, convincing acting, the excellent plot development (in every episode, each of which usually stands on its own), the choice of a great supporting cast and Stewart Copeland's fine scores--what more could one want in a TV show. In fact, The Equalizer was and probably still is too good for television.

    My real purpose in originally writing this was to attempt to prod the owner of the copyright, Universal, to make all the episodes (and possibly some that might be in the can and not yet shown) available on DVD. From the plethora of very positive comments it is obvious that this is not only an artistic success but something that likely would be commercially feasible. I first wrote: "Should it not be made available on DVD, I guess I will have to content myself to try to find all the episodes on VHS and dub them onto DVD-R." Since then I have obtained a set from TVDVDPlanet.com of (it claims) all the episodes on 22 DVD-Rs in boxes with no manufacturer on the label. I have viewed several and they were crudely taped from TV(some even say A&E on them). Video quality is very poor. Apparently this is region free. It seems all are DVD-R not DVD and quality is awful. Packages are shipped from Canada.

    Since writing the above I learned that Season One would be officially released by Universal in the States and it has been. This is a region 1 DVD. It is a 5 disc set with all 22 episodes from the first season. It can be ordered at Amazon.com and other sellers. Technical quality is very good. I did notice that one episode was in stereo though the packaging says mono. Definitely worthwhile and I hope they follow through on the rest.

    Since writing the above I have noted that the domain TVDVDPlanet.com has been taken away from one Alan Knight of Key West Florida by Planet Entertainment, Inc. The complaint alleged that the website may be offering unauthorized and infringing product to the public. See http://www.tvdvdplanet.com/tvdvdplanet.pdf. Nothing was said about the "quality" (or lack of it) of the product.

    Thomas J McKeon Indianapolis
  • Discovered The Equalizer on A&E. It had heart and I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay of the characters. I especially enjoyed the character of Jimmy played by Mark Margolis. You got glimpses into his life and wanted to know more. I wish someone would pick up the series again now that A&E has dropped it.
  • I doubt that I could call this an objectively excellent show, but I loved it. We all have worries and concerns in this world, and when The Equalizer would come on, it was as if someone showed up to take care of it all.

    The violence was gratuitous, the hero flawed, the premises and execution over the top. Yet the team, headed by an effective if somewhat hammy Edward Woodward who is in turn flanked by Mickey Kostmayer, and Jimmy and Sterno, and the regulars - Control, Pete O'Phelan, Lt. Smalls, Scott, etc. - grew on us. So many budding actors, now famous, guested on this show.

    In a key conversation, McCall tells Control how he wished the rain pouring outside could clear away all the human scum and filth that terrorizes society. McCall took it upon himself to do so.

    I often wished that longer-term plot elements would take hold. At one point, McCall says to Saul Rubinek's character, "Jason, you set me up. I don't know why, but believe me, I will find out" - but nothing came of this. Some of today's shows, Alias for example, show the potential for twists and turns in long-term plot elements. So, while there were serial elements (ex. McCall's family tribulations), the episodes were largely stand-alone. The Equalizer had huge potential for groundbreaking storylines, but failed to realize it. Still, it provided me with my weekly dose of valued escapism.
  • Edward Woodward was fantastic as former "company" operative Robert McCall, who abruptly resigns from service and offers his skills and connections to help ordinary people in need, whether that be from street punks, gangsters, terrorists, stalkers, or corrupt corporations. Whatever the threat, McCall was up for the challenge, and he certainly wasn't a man you would want for an enemy! I marveled at how Edward Woodward imbued the role with such power and menace to the criminal element, who frequently underestimated this middle-aged Englishman the same way murderers would Culumbo, for instance. To see Woodward take on younger threats and beat them in his fearless style was a joy to watch; this was a man trying to make amends for his mysterious past, a man who has seen much evil, and isn't intimidated by it, and who likely doesn't fear his own death.

    Pity it was canceled after four years, but has recently received a full series DVD release, so now can be enjoyed once again by both old and new fans.
  • ed-75510 January 2007
    For years, The Equalizer was TV's best series. Employing the great British actor Edward Woodward as a combination of the Knight Errant, Don Quixote and the Existential Hero was a stroke of genius. Woodward's Shakespearean style and personality, overlaid against the grimy, ugly business of problem-solving in urban America, made his character and dialogue stand out even further in bold relief. And having the City of New York as the Extra Player gave each episode a grittiness, pressure, suspense and excitement all its own.

    There have been lots of spy series and CIA shows, but never one about a repentant agent until this. Demonstrating that repentance by helping the needs of Everyman was the heart of the show. But each segment retained the "espionage flavor" by using current "agency" personnel, protocol and paraphernalia.

    That repentance presupposed moral absolutes, and the segments are replete with a high view of right and wrong. Right is heroic, and sleaze is truly scuzzy. Indeed, this tension forms the basis for Robert McCall's involvement with his clients. After mortally wounding one adversary who still won't reveal a kidnapped victim's whereabouts, McCall asks the dying man about to slide into eternity, "What if there is a God?"

    But successful people (and shows) tend to stop doing the thing that made them successful. So later episodes of the series began delving further into the bizarre to try and retain viewer interest. Those experiments didn't work (and never do).

    Yet Stewart Copeland's early techno compositions, rhythm work and "Police" chord progressions kept the interest level high, even when the scripts waned at times.

    Thankfully, the other genius element was the casting. Kevin Spacey, Ray Sharkey, Will Patton, Patricia Clarkson and many others (like Copeland himself!) got their first crack or big break through The Equalizer. And veteran actors like Tovah Feldschuh, Dennis Christopher, Edward Binns and Robert Lansing came back to the tube via the series. The only problem was, that, next to Woodward, even our best actors sometimes paled (and the scripts were weighted to his lines, and didn't always do the other actos justice).

    But the current episodes on air (it was a Universal series, so Universal/NBC has run it on Sleuth and Universal HD networks) are some of the brighter spots on the TV day. Thanks for that!
  • The Considerable acting talents of Edward Woodward were used to make this well made and acted series. The production and especially the use of New York were top notch. Along with excellent music by Stewart Copeland and great acting from bit players this has rightly come to be regarded as a classic of '80s television.
  • Ed Woodward's portrayal of McCall is well above what the average viewer would be subject to on any given evening on any given program.

    The episodes give one the sense of a short theatrical production as opposed to a half hearted, thrown together typical television program. The stories are thought out with substantial plot development. The background of the characters are nicely developed which allows the viewer to empathize with them and experience the drama fully as it unfolds.

    The music, locations and the black Jaguar all contribute as well to making this series, undoubtedly, one of the best ever syndicated productions ever.

    If you aren't familiar with the adventures of Robert McCall or haven't had the privilege of observing an Edward Woodward performance then get your wallet out and buy this series. I'm highly confident you won't regret doing so.
  • The Equalizer is one of the best shows ever made.All of the shows were well written & Edward Woodward's acting was some of the best that I have ever seen.He is an incredible actor.It is a shame that it was cancelled so soon.I feel that there was room for another 3 seasons or more...I'm glad they show reruns on A&E...
  • marciakohring28 December 2006
    Series is very much enjoyed. I never got the opportunity to watch it when it was first aired in the 80's. Edward Woodward is an excellent actor and makes the character of Robert McCall real. In fact he seems to project that ability in all the various roles he has played in other movies as well. His range of acting ability is as diverse as the roles he plays. One review even called him Britain's answer to Sean Connery. The Equalizer should be aired - all four seasons. It is better that the fanciful detective tales being carried now. In addition to good scripts, the photography of New York and DC is excellent. The supporting cast for each episode is well planned.
  • The equalizer is probably my favorite mystery. I watch the reruns every day, and, since they do not have DVD's out as far as I know, I have started to tape them. This show has a great level of suspense for anyone who loves mysteries, and it's got an interesting plot in every episode.

    I'm only going on 14 and just started watching the show's reruns about 2 months ago (when my grandma discovered it was in syndication) but it's already one of my favorites. I was educated early on about violence and the issues that I see appear in the Equalizer, so I understand it completely. I know the show has a high level of violence and deals with many strong subjects, but that's nothing compared to some of the things I see today on TV. McCall does kill a lot of bad guys, but at least they don't make an extremely graphic scene. McCall even dislikes killing anyone, so that doesn't mean he enjoys shooting his gun off at every criminal out there. This show dealt with things that actually happen. There is violence out there, and there are very scary things going on as well. If only there were a few real Equalizers, we could make a difference.

    Robert McCall has true to life feelings in my opinion. Sure, you may not meet a man who keeps a bunch of weapons and used to work for the CIA, but he has normal feelings. He's calm and kind, but his temper can flare with proper stimulation, such as a very nasty bad guy or an argument with Control. He knows what to do and tries all he can to help his clients. Edward Woodward does a great job portraying Robert McCall as lifelike. He brings a uniqueness to the character that I haven't seen on any show before. The role fit him perfectly. Woodward's way of playing McCall can not be done by anyone else.

    The Equalizer is ready to dole out justice to criminals, and to equalize the odds of those who's odds are against them. I may not have been alive when the show ran it's course, but thanks to syndication, The Equalizer is my daily treat to enjoy alone, with my family, or with my friends. I truly think it is an awesome show.
  • Hi, This TV show is one of my favorites.

    Excellent actors, especially,Edward Woodward, nice shots of NY, fine music from Stewart Copeland,still have the CD "the equalizer and other cliffhangers" ,nice Jag, I bought the same model 8 years ago,and drive her still around. Last week the rerun, one episode a week, started here on television.It was the first episode, in which mcCall meets his son Scott after quitting the secret service. Does anybody know if Robert Mitchum acted in some of later episodes; The ones in which mcCall, drove the later model Jag xj40 .A shame this TV-series isn't on DVD available !!! Bye, Emile
  • I agree with most of the comments about The Equalizer as far as its good qualities are concerned. I thought Edward Woodward did a fine job of acting and his costars were very helpful also to each plot. I had taped a number of the episodes and am enjoying them even now. I, as I noted some persons have said, wish the series could be made into DVD's and thus kept on our television screens. I especially enjoyed the episode with Edward's wife, Michele, who is a well-known actress on her own. I hope Mr. Woodward has been able to see how much his many viewers enjoyed his performances. I am wondering too if he will ever return to the United States to perform for us on the stage? I wondered too why he did not sing in more shows? He did sing a bit of As Time Goes By in one episode where he was outside dancing with a costar on a snowy night.
  • "The Equalizer" did have its flaws. The settings and characters were believable enough, but not always the plots. I just watched the episode "Bump and Run" and had a hard time dealing with the fact that two criminals who were just released from court for lack of evidence decided to take revenge on the victim at the same night. When McCall, Kostmayer and a police detective heard of their release they immediately anticipated the attack and charged to rescue. In fact they had no cause to foresee such stupidity. Criminals don't do things like that, otherwise no legal system could function at all. Real life criminals would have gone home, got drunk or high and celebrated the break they had got and that would have also been what actual law enforcement officers had expected of them. By the way, is it legally possible in NY for a lawyer to defend the murderers of his on brother? It is not in any legal system that I know of.

    So much for the flaws. "The Equalizer" was a great show of the kind that is extinct by now. It had a sense of reality as far as the action scenes went and a feel for justice unlike modern days movies/TV series where the "heroes" exchange tons of bullets between lame jokes and practice digital karate without stopping to think why they are doing it in the first place. The McCall character (excellently portrayed by Woodward) was not unbelievable at all. He looked, talked and acted exactly like real life tough guys would look, talk and act. It is not muscle or good looks that make criminals respect a cop or a PI, it is the knowledge, information and contacts he possesses. As Raymond Chandler wrote a long time ago: "Down these mean streets a man must go, who is neither tarnished nor afraid..."
  • It was a great show with an international aire on a local level. McCall was constantly being haunted by his past. What probably took the steam from the show was the untimely death of Robert Lansing and the Producer's willingness to reduce the show's violence. Let's not mention that Edward Woodward's failing health (he had a heart attack). McCall was an inhabitant in a dark and violent world. His attempt to establish a normal relationship with his distant and bitter son was constantly punctuated by his past. Regretfully, there was no one who could replace Woodward with his style and force of character. Add to that an unusual soundtrack by Stewart Copeland, the "Equalizer" was television worth watching.
  • "Let's just say that I have already paid the price for both of us" This is one of my favorite quotes from Robert McCall who is one of the coolest cats to ever tackle crime. If you start to watch this show on A&E you will soon be hooked!!!!
  • Your basic James Bond character meets Death Wish; done quite well actually. It's fun to see Robert Lansing, Ron O'neal (Superfly!) and William Zabka (bad guy in both Karate Kid AND Back to School!) in this series. Woodward acted well, with conviction and class. Somewhat formulaic and dated in places-but no matter, so are shows being done right now. By far one of the better ones of the mid-'80s.

    ***1/2 outta ****, a definate go see.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Edward Woodward returned to television, on the other side of the pond, as a different burnt-out secret agent, Robert McCall. McCall bears more than a passing resemblance to David Callan, Woodward's iconic character from his British TV series. He has been used and abused for years, in the shadowy world of espionage, with its murky ethics and high body count. Unlike Callan, he is able to walk away from his masters, when he resigns, after a botched operation leads to the death of is charge. McCall, finding himself finally free of this dark world, decides he wants to do something to make the world better and using the skills that he has, advertises his services in the newspaper, as "The Equalizer," someone who evens the odds for those in trouble.

    The series is one part spy-fi, one part private eye, and one part crime drama. Each week, McCall is contacted by someone in need and he responds, charging no fee (he is independently well off, thanks to information gained in his spy days, which allows him to make shrewd investments). Occasionally, he finds his services required by his old masters, via his former boss (and friend) Control. On other occasions, he uses his relationship with control to gain access to agents and resources of "the Agency" to aid in his mission.

    The series makes great use of New York location shooting, while also creating an edgy visual style. Shadows are frequently used and the series plays upon urban fears, with various predators menacing his clients. It mixes high class living with squalid apartments and empty warehouse.

    Edward Woodward is excellent as McCall, with the character's desire to bring justice and peace giving him ample opportunity to orate. McCall uses powerful speeches as much as powerful handguns. Woodward is at his best when he is raging against something, though he also excels at the quiet moments. He gives the character a well- rounded feel, aided by great writing, which emphasizes McCall's flaws as much as his virtues. McCall's calling has made him a poor father and he often uses guilt to attain favors from Control, yet rants when Control asks him to return the favor.

    Apart from the hair and some of the clothes, the one element of the series that scream "the 80s" is the music from Stewart Copeland, the drummer for The Police. Copeland created the synth-heavy sound of the series, from the iconic opening theme, to the incidental music used throughout (again, heavy on synth and drums). However, it is such a part of the show that it never really seems archaic. The same could not be said with the music Copeland created for the Babylon 5 pilot movie ("The Gathering").

    The series is filled with great guest actors, many of whom would go on to bigger things, like Vincent D'Onofrio, Kevin Spacey, Christian Slater, and others, while also making great use of classic actors like Robert Lansing (Gary 7, on Star Trek), Ron Neal (Superfly), Robert Mitchum, and Richard Jordan. It made great use of outstanding characters actors, drawn in, no doubt, by the quality writing.

    This is a series worth watching and owning on home video. It was a stylish piece of TV, with great characters and excellent writing, and top notch performances.
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