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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > TV > The Saint - The Early Years (1962) - Set One

The Saint – The Early Years: Set One (1962)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: B



Though not as often seen as the later full color episodes, Roger Moore first surfaced as Simon Templar in 1962, when The Saint debuted in black and white and put Sir Lew Grade on the map as a producer of action TV.  Debuting the same year as the first James Bond film, Dr. No, a role Roger Moore had been considered for and would later get, The Saint put Roger on the map.  He lasted in the role longer than Sean Connery did in his initial Bond run.


As Templar, Moore talks directing into the camera, a few years prior to Michael Caine in the original Alfie (1966) and its recent atrocious remake, this was a device to make the episodes more personable than the RKO B-movie series.  Along with adapting the leisurely pace of the Leslie Charteris books, that made these early shows for book fans the best, though this critic believes the show peaked in the 1967 color season, reviewed in The Saint MegaSet elsewhere on this site.


This set offers all twelve hour-long episodes on 3 DVDs, in the original order of British broadcast, though there may be some debate between places seven and eight below.  Special actors of note follow certain shows:


1)     The Talented Husband (guest star Shirley Eaton)

2)     The Latin Touch (guest star Warren Mitchell)

3)     The Careful Terrorist (Percy Herbert as Hoppy Uniatz)

4)     The Covetous Headsman (guest star Barbara Shelley)

5)     The Loaded Tourist

6)     The Pearls Of Peace

7)     The Arrow Of God (with Honor Blackman and Anthony Dawson)

8)     The Element Of Doubt

9)     The Effete Angler (guest star Shirley Eaton/different character)

10)  The Golden Journey

11)  The Man Who Was Lucky

12)  The Charitable Countess (with Nigel Davenport and Warren Mitchell)



Of course, fans will recognize Hoppy, a character from the book that did not surface in the color episodes.  Herbert is fun as the politically incorrect henchman assistant to Templar, but like Lionel Stander’s max on Hart To Hart, he had to either be changed or dropped.  Roger was terrific from the get go, playing the British troubleshooter as no-nonsense as soon as he was incensed by injustice.  There are always jokes about Roger not being able to act and the shadow of Connery’s Bond haunts all the other actors who played him, but Roger made this role his and even someone as talented as Val Kilmer could not change this in the misguided feature film.  The shows are more dramatic than later ones, which evolved well towards more action, but they are solid early shows worth checking out, especially if you have not seen them before.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is looking good for its age, though some fine detail is occurrently not present, yet the image shot by cinematographer Lionel Banes, F.R.P.S., is rich in Gray Scale and Video Black.  This set is more than comparable with monochrome action shows on DVD at the time like Danger Man and the 1965 Avengers also from A&E, also reviewed elsewhere on this site.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is an upgrade of the original monophonic sound and despite some stridentness, is not bad.  The Edwin Astley score first appeared in these shows that held up into the height of the Spy craze.  The theme song is done slower here, but it is better than the version in the final seasons that I still cannot figure out.  The only extra offered is text on Moore and a history of the character previously offered on the color shows.  Most important, these shows are finally coming out on DVD and fans of the series and the books should be satisfied with another job well done by A&E.  Hope we get more extras next time.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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