The Persuaders! – The Complete Series: 40th
Anniversary Edition (1970 – 1971/Network
Blu-ray set w/supplement DVDs)
B+ Sound: B- Extras: A-
PLEASE NOTE: This
Blu-ray set is only available in the U.K.
from our friends at Network U.K.
and can be ordered from them exclusively at the website address links provided below
at the end of the review. This is a Region B Blu-ray set and will only
play on players capable of handling that kind of software, so this excludes
players, while the PAL DVDs are Region 2 formatted and will only operate on
newer multi-region DVD players or PAL Region 2 DVD players.
passing of Tony Curtis, another one of the last of the big Hollywood
movie starts leaves his legacy behind.
Though some may remember him from his off-screen life, others from
episodes of Vega$ and others from
his may hit feature films, another following he has comes from a series for
which he was absolutely the permanent co-star and was a hit everywhere but the
United States. Teamed with Roger Moore
hot off of The Saint, their action
series The Persuaders! continues to
be a fan favorite and continues to gain fans once enough episodes are viewed.
series was issued in two DVD sets in the U.S. by A&E, but (unlike their
releases of The Prisoner (highly
recommended) and Space: 1999
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) on Blu-ray, neither A&E or anyone else is
currently issuing The Persuaders! on
Blu-ray in the U.S., but Network U.K. is issuing a tremendous 40th Anniversary Complete Series
collection that far exceeds all previous editions and delivers the series in a
way no one could have dreamed when it debuted all those years ago.
from an earlier review, Moore
is Lord Brett Sinclair, and Curtis is Danny Wilde. They both are playboys
who find themselves in trouble all the time, and have come into fortunes more
than once. Because of their newly rich status, their unpredictable nature
is expected, though they both served in their respective country’s militaries
and the Lord went to Oxford,
while Danny exceeded the school of hard knocks.
This was all inspired by an episode of The Saint called The Ex-King
Of Diamonds (included in High Definition on this set) where Stuart Damon (The Champions, General Hospital)
had the Texan role that eventually was filled by Curtis.
brings them together is conflict, but a retired judge (Laurence Naismith, in a
sort of Alexander Waverly/Mother/M type role) decides to push them into doing
whatever he wants with the threat of imprisonment. This “nudge”
eventually lead to them becoming friends and troubleshooters, as Judge Fulton
(Naismith) knows there is more to them than their controversial
reputations. The good judge himself retired early to investigate the many
cases that disturbed him as being either unresolved, or being resolved under
very questionable circumstances. The show does not dwell on this formula,
which is a plus, so it does not degenerate into a spoof of itself.
talent involved is the prime reason, but the exceptional improvisation of the
two leads also breaks up any potential monotony. They have better
chemistry than you would expect, so the show is only a cult item in the United States
if it is known at all. This Blu-ray set offers all 24 episodes that now
more than ever shows the effort and money put into the production, including
some great location shoots that hold up very well. The episodes are as
Overture (teleplay by Brian Clemens,
directed by Basil Dearden) – The rich and raunchy Brit and New Yorker meet in
this fine pilot show. This is some of Clemens best post-Avengers work and Dearden always seemed
to click with Moore
in everything they did. [We strongly recommend the Dearden/Moore
theatrical film The Man Who Haunted
Himself, which includes an exceptional commentary track on its out-of-print
The Gold Napoleon (Val Guest/Roy Ward Baker) –
Susan George (Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs,
now itself on Blu-ray) stars as a young art student who is getting hit on by
Danny when she is shot. The question… was the bullet meant for her or
Take Seven (Terry Nation/Sidney Hayers) – A
male heir to a fortune suddenly turns up alive, despite being thought of a s
dead, but is he a phony, and who is trying to kill his sister?
Greensleeves (Terence Feely/David Green) – The
title estate of Sinclair’s is being disturbed in his absence, so he decides to
investigate why, and finds someone is trying to duplicate him.
Powerswitch – (John Kruse/Basil Dearden) – A
girl turns up dead in the water where Brett and Danny are hanging around, but
now, the authorities want to know what they know, which is nothing. They
get so ticked off by the inept French police that they decide to investigate
more closely themselves, but are also being manipulated.
The Time & The Place (Michael Pertwee/Roger Moore) –
Is Danny seeing things or did he really see a dead body in the park?
Sinclair thinks he is seeing things, until things start getting bizarre.
Someone Like Me (Terry Nation/Roy Ward Baker) –
On his way to a vacation trip, Sinclair is lured into the park, knocked out,
then taken to a hospital. The follows an odd incident where a man thinks
he uncontrollably shot someone, only to find him alive and laughing in a swivel
chair. Bernard Lee and Jeremy Burnham guest star.
Anyone Can Play (Tony Williamson/Leslie Norman) –
Danny’s winning ways are not mere luck, which wins him a pile of dough and
possible assassination for being mistaken for a spy contact.
The Old, The New, and The Deadly (Brian Clemens/Leslie Norman) –
Danny is photographed with a Nazi artifact, an eagle on a staff, which he is
holding. A series of unfriendly people are ready to kill for it, but too
bad Danny does not own it. Patrick Troughton (an original Dr. Who) and Frederick Jaeger guest star.
Angie (Milton S. Gelman/Val Guest) – A gunman aims for an American visitor
to the Cannes Film Festival, and Brett happens to be around to stop the first
assassination attempt. In the meantime, a friend of Danny’s from the old
neighborhood happens to be in town, because he just “loves the flicks” so
much. Larry Storch, the F-Troop
and Ghost Busters (1974) series star
who was making interesting semi-serious rounds of guest appearances on shows
like this and Kolchak: The Night Stalker
(The Vampire episode, all reviewed
elsewhere on this site) at the time, plays the friend. This is one of the
best shows in this box.
11) Chain of
Events (Terry Nation/Peter Hunt [also editor, in place of usual editor Bert
Rule, G.B.F.E.]) – Brett and Danny have different takes of “roughing it” until
Danny’s rougher approach goes too far when a dying parachutist handcuffs a
briefcase to his wrist that everyone seems to want. The trouble that man
gets into! Look for the in-joke towards the end when a promo copy of a
Bond film surfaces among an entire collection of Fleming’s books; that solitary
promo copy is the single Bond that director Hunt had recently helmed: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
John Glyn-Jones and Jeremy Child guest star.
Me Over There (Brian Clemens/Leslie Norman) – A woman with evidence about a
loose war criminal to trust only Brett with the information, she has never met
him, and he is not available. Danny decides to impersonate him!
Geoffrey Keen, Patrick Newell (in a great cameo) and Alan Cuthbertson guest
13) The Long
Goodbye (Michael Pertwee/Roger Moore) – The discovery of a scientists
long-dead body comes with a formula for fuel so valuable, that it could produce
more dead bodies over the greedy interests who want it, before anyone sees any
benefits. Madeline Smith and Glynn Edwards guest star.
14) The Man
In The Middle (written by Donald James, directed by Leslie Norman) – Brett
St. Clair (Moore)
hatches a plan to catch a traitor spy, only for it to backfire.
Terry-Thomas and Suzy Kendall are welcome, but the story is flat.
15) A Home
Of One’s Own (Terry Nation/James Hill) – In one of the most explicit attempts
at humor, Danny Wilde (Curtis) buys a formerly great home that condemned and
for good reason. Despite this, it still holds some strange value that
certain people are willing to kill over. The humor fails, as does the
show, though it is more amusing in this better copy.
Miles To Midnight (Terry Nation/Val Guest) – The guys attempt to smuggle a
gangster in various vehicles leads to all kinds of complications in one of the
more amusing shows in this set. Jean Marsh is here, as is an especially
amusing Joan Collins, in one of her lighter and more naturalistic guest star
appearances on any TV show.
Value (David Wolfe & Tony Barwick/Leslie Norman) – Danny’s womanizing
takes a new turn when a blind date of his is kidnapped and he seems to be
getting framed for it. The results are mixed.
Morning After (Walter Black/Leslie Norman) – A hung-over Brett wakes up to
find he is married to a beautiful woman (Bond girl and future Space: 1999 and Adventurer co-star Catherine Von Schell), but it is obviously a set
up, which is why the show never works.
& Destroy (Peter Yeldam/Roy Ward Baker) – Another British agent Brett happens
to know is getting ready to print his memoirs, but too many people feel that
encompasses too many of their own private stories, so he becomes a marked man
and he contacts Brett just in time for Brett and Danny to be caught in the
crossfire. This is one of the better shows here, co-starring Joss
Ackland, Nigel Green and Kate O’Mara.
Ozerov Inheritance (Harry W. Junkin/Roy Ward Baker) – Brett and Danny try
to prove a Russian family are heirs to a fortune, but it looks like there are
many who want to keep them poor, if not dead. Gladys Cooper is the elder
royal nomad in one of the stronger episodes the series produced.
21) A Death In
The Family (Terry Nation/Sidney Hayers) – Brett’s family is being targeted
for murder, so he and Danny have to find the killer’s before Brett is belatedly
orphaned. Diane Cliento (the future Mrs. Sean Connery), Denholm Elliott
(the Indiana Jones films) and Ivor Dean (Inspector Teal from all of Moore’s Saint
seasons) co-star, though Moore
plays many of his relatives and Curtis is equally amusing in the end.
Played more for humor, but is somewhat more effective than usual.
22) To The
Death, Baby (Donald James/Basil Dearden) – Brett and Danny bet who can win
over an heiress more, but the bet turns out to have deadly strings attached
neither was expecting. Another mixed show.
Waiting (Terry Nation/Peter Medak) – Brett goes back to formula racing,
only to be tracked down by an obsessed murderer. Not bad and sometimes
truly amusing thanks to Medak.
Of Risk (Tony Barwick/Gerald Mayer) – This combination of military and
gangster escapades is supposed to recall the Bond film Goldfinger (1964) in some slight way, but doing this extended puts
some age on it. The show is saved by two great guest performances by
perennial genre character actors Peter Bowles and Shane Rimmer. Laurence
Naismith, whose Judge Fulton character brought them together to begin with, is
here but less often in these episodes. His scaled-back appearances did
not unhinder the show as much as expected.
chemistry intended comes across better in High Definition with subtleties
working much better than in any other copies I have seen before. Both characters also have a healthy sense of
cynicism that is not childish as you get in most buddy action genre works and
that furthers the effectiveness of the show.
I wanted something darker and edgier (think Robert Culp and Bill Cosby
in Hickey & Boggs), but that is
not the show they were trying to make and the combination of British wit and
the Curtis/Hollywood approach was something much newer at the time, which is
why (besides scheduling by ABC in the U.S. that did not help) had The States
miss out on the show. It was meant to be
funnier than I Spy and often
succeeded, but I can see how some fans did not want to see Moore in another show like The Saint just after it folded, which
is unfortunate. The show has great
energy to it and actually was improving as the show moved on.
while they were on top, but it turns out Lord Grade was ready to spend more
money to continue the show, even when Moore
accepted the role of James Bond.
However, they eventually realized they could not get the same chemistry
with Curtis and another actor and the show folded. Now you can enjoy the show like never before.
1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image quality from episode to episode is very,
very impressive throughout as the previous ITC 35mm filmed series on Blu-ray
have been, as noted above. The U.S. DVD
set came from “very nice, clean prints for the most part” and these copies are
in at least as good a shape if not better, with exceptional color, color range,
Video White, Video Black, depth and detail that will stun (especially the on
location shots) and impress all who see it.
Sadly, the process shots of people driving look bad and degraded, but
that (along with minor flaws in parts of some prints) are the only issues that
get in the way of the exceptional playback.
Once again, Director of Photography Tony Spratling deserves huge credit
for finding a new look for this show different from its predecessors. All serious home theater and HD fans will be
more than pleased.
2.0 Mono is also the best the shows have ever sounded, even considering the high
bit rate Dolby Digital 2.0 sound A&E used for their DVDs, in which they
gave the shows a simple Stereo boost in what was still in a lossy format. The PCM digital sound here is that much
smoother, though it also can show the age of the recordings and is pretty
lossless, but this is more than competitive with motion pictures of the same
era and holds up well for its age. Ken
Thorne’s score and John Barry’s great, now classic theme song also benefit.
expanded from all previous editions and include:
Recently found production footage (including some behind the scenes) (mute, HD)
• Extensive image galleries of rare and previously unseen stills (HD)
Saint: The Ex-King of Diamonds (HD)
• Previously unseen alternate title sequence (HD)
booklet fully bound book with Viewing Notes by archive television historian
• Moore and Curtis reunion on The Alan
• Contemporary French interview footage from 1971
• 1972 Sun TV Awards footage
• BECTU History Project audio interview with Johnny Goodman
• Commentaries with Roger Moore, Tony Curtis and production staff on select
Morning After - Remembering The Persuaders! exclusive documentary
• AVROSkoop documentary
• Top of the Pops clip set to the
theme song by John Barry
• European and (mute) UK promotional spots
• Trailers and archive newsreel footage
• Tony Curtis interviewed by Russell Harty
• French titles and commercial break bumpers
• A bunch of Script and Memorabilia PDFs
• All four international feature-length compilations with trailers, plus
trailers and footage from an intended fifth feature cut together form episodes
of the show that never got made.
course, those theatrical cut-together feature films are only here in low-def
DVD form, but are interesting to see and come from a time when people did not
even have color TV worldwide let alone HDTV, but this was common practice (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had the most
commercial success in doing this) and they are a big part of the history and
success of the show. There have even
been faint rumblings of remaking this with new actors, but the odds of that
being botched are very, very high. The Persuaders! is at least a minor
classic of the genre, iconic, loved and continues to have a hardcore
following. This elaborate, expansive set
it one of the bets of the year and if you can play it, you should get it!
above, you can order this Blu-ray import set exclusively from Network U.K.
- Nicholas Sheffo