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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Spy > British TV > Persuaders - Set One (A&E DVD Set)

The Persuaders! – Set One (A&E Region One/NTSC DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: B



PLEASE NOTE: This series has been issued on Blu-ray in 2011 and upgraded DVD sets in the U.K., we reviewed the Blu-ray set at this link:





Now the original review…



How in demand did Roger Moore become in the 1960s?  Early on, he lost James Bond to Sean Connery, but his version of The Saint was a huge hit that established him as an international star.  When Connery left the bond series, Moore was still playing Simon Templar, so unknown George Lazenby would be Bond once in the 1969 Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  When the role came up a third time, Connery returned within the series one last time and Moore was now onto The Persuaders.


If Moore on his own could generate a huge hit on his own, what if you could get him a name American co-star, both playing up the smarmy routine?  Of course, it would have to be someone who could equal Moore’s wit, though this was not an original consideration.  Of the few male leads at the time with that kind of skill and comic timing, the list shrunk quickly and it would be red-hot Hollywood star Tony Curtis who would team up with Moore.


Lord Lew Grade, thrilled with the success of his SuperMarionation shows and The Saint, had been toying with the idea of more Hollywood stars in his productions.  The new series would be a big step forward in realizing such projects.  Curtis was on a roll with big Hollywood productions like The Great Race, Not With My Wife You Don’t, Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies, and a surprise turn in The Boston Strangler.  Landing him was a huge coup for the series, and TV in general, but Curtis judged correctly as far as the quality and talent involved was concerned.


You had Terry Nation as head story editor, just off of The Avengers and known for his work on Dr. Who (he created The Daleks,) as well as series mastermind Brian Clemens writing the pilot show, plus Moore, plus Grade’s clout, plus some of the best directors in British filmmaking.  It had hit written all over it, but the combination did not click commercially in the United States.  Though it was a hit in many other countries, where it has played regularly since its 1970 debut, success in the U.S. at the time was considered that crucial.  That’s tragic, because this is a smart series that deserved better than it got and holds up remarkably well over three decades later.


There are those who have tried to write it off as an Avengers would-be to some extent, but there is something more going on here than a rip-off or take off of that show.  As a matter of fact, it has a feel of being a hybrid of the best of all those 1960s series aforementioned and is a most fitting peak to that grand cycle of some of the best television ever produced.


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.


What 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.


The 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.  Hopefully, this nicely packaged DVD set will help to change that.


This box offers the first 13 episodes, which is roughly half of the series.  You can still see the effort and money put into the production, including some great location shoots that hold up very well.  Those shows are:


1)     Overture (with optional commentary; 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 Anchor Bay’s great DVD of the Dearden/Moore theatrical film The Man Who Haunted Himself, which includes an exceptional commentary track on its DVD.]

2)     The Gold Napoleon (Val Guest/Roy Ward Baker) – Susan George (Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs) 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 him?

3)     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?

4)     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.

5)     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.

6)     The Time & The Place (with optional commentary not listed on the packaging; 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.

7)     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.

8)     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.

9)     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.

10)  Angie… 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.

12)  That’s 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 star.

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.



The full color, full screen, full frame, 1.33 X 1 images come off of very nice, clean prints for the most part, though some photochemical flaws can be seen on Greensleeves.  The transfers are from PAL masters that cause some digital hazing from the PAL/NTSC difference, but look good otherwise due to the higher bit-rate of transfer in part.  Cinematographer Tony Spratling deserves huge credit for finding a new look for this show different from its predecessors.


A high bit rate is also used on the Dolby Digital, as usually for A&E/New Video, but the 2.0 has been remixed for simple Stereo.  Unlike problems they ran into during the first pressings of U.F.O. – Set One, with harshness that led to later pressings being switched back to the original monophonic sound, this is as smooth as what they achieved on the early SuperMarionation boxed sets like Supercar and Fireball XL-5.  However, there is more sound here, which enhances Ken Thorne’s score and John Barry’s great theme song.


Extras include commentary track for single episodes on DVD 1 and 2 (as noted above), which are excellent.  As he has already shown on MGM DVD’s releases of his seven James Bond films and Anchor Bay’s The Man Who Haunted Himself DVD (which is worth noting twice,) Roger Moore delivers some of the best audio commentary tracks by any actor ever.  He is joined by the great producer Robert S. Baker and Executive in Charge of Production for this show, Johnny Goodman.  DVD 4 has brief bios of Moore and Curtis, plus two photo galleries.  One offers stills of all four episodes in this box, while the other offers recent photos of the participants of the audio commentary posing with the Aston Martin DBS from this series in restored form in 2003.  It is ironic that Moore lands up with the same model George Lazenby did in his lone Bond film, but never has one in his seven Bond films!


One other interesting aspect of the show is its unique take on culture clashes.  You have the friendly U.S./British rivalry, the eccentricities of the various European locales and their people, and the fun of putting Curtis into situations previously reserved for British stars of such shows.  The Persuaders deserves a rediscovery like no other British show and the stars’ popularity should finally give this deserving little gem a new audience.


You can read about the conclusion of the series at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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