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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action TV > Saint Set 5 (Roger Moore/A&E DVD)

The Saint Set #5 (Full Color Sets)


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



The Saint in individual two-sets (seven in all) continues in this fifth DVD set, the two discs included mark the divide between the two eras of the color episodes.  For the remaining shows, the theme song was actually changed!  That is extremely unusual, especially for a hit TV series, but this occurred with producer changes.


Unfortunately, the new song was bizarre, then the show started to lose some of its wit and slowly went into somewhat of a decline, not being able to keep up its highest standards of action, wit, and storytelling that made the show an international smash.  Roger Moore actually helped the show by taking a more active role in directing episodes, which he turned out to be good at, but even he had to be getting into a position of repeating himself too much in bringing Simon Templar to life.  It even seems a decision to drop some of that humor and wit for drama more akin to the black and white shows was implemented.  This particular DVD set offers a chance to see these changes as they happened.


The DVDs themselves make one of the better sets, though Set #3 still marks the peak of production for the entire run of the series, it falls in between the best and lesser sets.  Moore’s presence saves the lesser shows, while making the better ones work seamlessly.


This is one of the best sets in The Saint collection picture-wise, with no bad prints looking either second-generation or off of old, bad analog transfers.  This occurred in a few prints on other sets, but not to any awful extent.  The prints can still vary somewhat, while even the best prints suddenly look bad when awkward rear-projection work is inserted.  This was the weakest aspect of the show visually.  The changeover from more advanced color processes to EastmanColor is noticed between the two DVDs.  These are fine full-screen presentations at their best.


Again, like the picture, the sound is at a higher-than-usual bit-rate.  A&E/New Video, as usual, offers the best monophonic sound in the business.  Unlike a few previous copies of the episodes used for these boxes, which have had some damage on the audio, the sound on these copies is on the clearer side.  The higher 384 kbps rate Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono brings in an additional fullness and warmth that adds impact to viewing each show.


Where some bad prints hurt some of the other boxes, the performance is solid throughout on this one, which will make fans and fans to be very happy.


Expecting little, these DVDs still offer the original TV teaser trailers for each show, and yet again there are repeats of the biography of Roger Moore, the Saint history, and stills gallery sections for each episode.  They run 6 stills for each show.


A brief guide to each shows follows.  They seem to be in order in this particular set, which is not quite the case throughout A&E’s placement order of the shows, which are:


Disc One:


The Gadic Collection” (Teleplay by Philip Broadley, directed by Freddie Francis) – The Saint gets framed for stealing a foreign country’s nation treasures, so he goes undercover to expose the real thieves.  At the helm is the great cinematographer Freddie Francis (Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear remake, David Lynch classics The Elephant Man, The Straight Story), who had directed several Hammer Horror films.  Guest stars Peter Wyngarde (in a strange semi-black face!), Georgia Brown, Michael Ripper, and Martin Benson.


The Best Laid Schemes” (Teleplay by Joseph Morhain & A. Sandford White, directed by John Moxey) – An accidental drowning of a ship Captain seems too convenient, so Templar looks into who would want him dead.  Moxey, one of the best directors the series ever had, raises this above the already decent script.  Guest stars Sylvia Syms, Paul Daneman, Gabriele Drake, Fulton McKay, John Tate, and Geoffrey Quigley.


“Invitation To Danger” (Teleplay by Terry Nation, directed by Roger Moore) – Gambling in a casino leads the Saint to bet on a woman, but will he ever learn? Good excuse for a good show.  Guest stars Julian Glover, Shirley Eaton (catch the Goldfinger reference early on), Robert Hutton, Bryan Marshall, Warren Stanhope, and Les Crawford.


Disc Two:


Legacy For The Saint” (Teleplay by Michael Winder, directed by Roy (Ward) Baker) – Guest stars Alan McNaughton (later of The Sandbaggers, reviewed elsewhere on this site), T.P. McKenna, Reginald March, Stephanie Beacham (later of Dynasty spin-off The Colbys on TV), and Kenneth Farrington.


The Desperate Diplomat” (Teleplay by Terry Nation, directed by Ray Austin) – The Saint’s political friend needs help, but he may just be manipulating Templar.  Austin used to be the stunt coordinator on The Avengers, but made the transition into being a good action director on shows like this.  Guest stars Robert Hardy, Suzan Farmer, John Robinson, David Cargill, and Kenneth Gardner.


The Organisation Man” (Teleplay by Donald James, directed by Leslie Norman) – Is joining a terrorist group going too far for The Saint, or can is he really head off an ugly plot?  Some good mano-a-mano fights are included.  Guest stars Tony Britton, Caroline Martine, Glynn Edwards, and John Collin.


The Double Take (Teleplay by John Kruse, directed by Leslie Norman) – Twins or clones?  This is a show that wants to revisit some of the territory of “The Saint’s Double Trouble,” but is only so effective.  Guest stars Gregoire Aslan, Kate O’Mara, Denise Buckley, Blake Butler, and Jane Abbott.



The show continued to star Roger Moore as Simon Templar, and occasionally Ivor Dean as Inspector Teal, but note the transition changes behind the camera.  Created by Leslie Charteris, Produced by Robert S. Baker, Music by Edwin Astley, DVD #1 Cinematography by Michael Reed, B.S.C. with Alec Mills as Camera Operator. DVD #2 Cinematography by Brendan Stafford, B.S.C. – EastmanColor, Edited by Bert Rule and Lee Doig.


It is always a struggle to keep a good TV show going, especially a hit one.  The changes made at this time to The Saint had to do with a new producer, trying to take the show into a new direction, trying to get as much out of The Saint books as possible, and Moore trying more things behind the camera.  The changes were not a disaster, but the show was beginning to run out of steam.


This fifth boxed set makes for a very interesting study of that alone, but offers its highlights and is one of the more interesting boxes of the show A&E will be offering up.  More than fans will want to look at these shows, also offered in the complete full-color episode The Saint MegaSet.  Black & White Early Years sets are also being issued, both reviewed elsewhere on this site.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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