The Equalizer – Season One (Universal DVD)
Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C Episodes: B
quarter century of great Spy TV that began a year before the first James Bond
film hit the big screen (Dr. No in
1962) with shows like The Saint, Danger Man and The Avengers (when it started as Police Surgeon) and brought on a wave on both sides of the Atlantic
of some of the best TV series ever made, one last great series surfaced in 1985
and was rightly a hit. The great Edward
Woodward plays longtime secret agent Robert McCall, sick of the dark side of
his past and returning to a then-sleazier New York to clean it up and take care
of his own past in The Equalizer.
the life of espionage is not an easy one, but the great novel twist is that he
has decided to make himself available to the most vulnerable, defenseless and
needy in the city who are in jeopardy, need help or whose lives are in the most
danger, taking out one of the most legendary ads in TV history to do so. Woodward is amazing as McCall, whose dialogue
delivery became such a signature. That it was sent up in spoofs and skits at
the time and imitated worldwide.
lasted four seasons and Season One
holds up surprisingly well. Though it
was produced towards the tail end (unbeknownst to anyone at the time) of The
Cold War, the stories are about either McCall, his relationship with his son
Scott (the well-cast William Zabka) and the personal lives of those he is
trying to help. Then there is the
organization and the head of it, both named Control, with the head of the unit
played effectively by Robert Lansing.
Even that is an uneasy interesting relationship, leaving only the
occasional story involving the former Soviet Union.
the great Spy series from the time (and there have been few of note since worth
anything) and era this was made, great writing, great lead casting, great
acting and a smart, smart show overall is why series like The Equalizer endure and this one comes out of the tail end of a
phenomenal run of Universal Television productions with top rate resources.
regular cast on the series intermittently also included Mark Margolis, Saul
Rubinek, Steven Williams, Fred Williamson, Ron O’Neal, Roma Maffia and Richard
Portnow, but when you see the guest cast below, you can see the makers
definitely had a very good season. The
episodes are as follows, including key guest stars:
1) Pilot (Paul
2) China Rain
3) The Defector
4) The Lock Box
(Adam Ant, Lori Petty, J.T. Walsh)
5) Lady Cop
(Karen Young, Esai Morales, Will Patton, Reginald VelJohnson)
6) The Confirmation Day (Burt Young, Lois Smith, Joseph Wiseman)
7) The Children's Song (Ed O’Neill)
8) The Distant Fire
9) Mama's Boy
10) Bump & Run (Charles S. Dutton, Mark
Linn-Baker, Meat Loaf)
11) Desperately (David Margulies, Ray Sharkey)
12) Reign Of Terror (Lonette McKee, Tomas Milian,
13) Back Home (Frank Converse, Allen Swift)
14) Out Of The Past (Sandy Dennis, Brad Dourif,
Sylvia Miles, Jasmine Guy. Stephen McHattie, Barry Primus)
15) Dead Drop
16) Wash Up (Brian Tarantina)
17) Torn (Robert John Burke, Patricia
Richardson, Melissa Joan Hart)
18) Unnatural Causes (Kim Delaney, Gwen Verdon, Alice
19) Breakpoint (Patricia Clarkson, Tony
Shalhoub, Phyllis Newman)
20) No Conscience (Laurie Metcalf, D.W. Moffett, Linda Thorson)
21) Unpunished Crimes (Dan Hedaya, Jon Polito, David
22) Pretenders (Philip Bosco, Kathleen Lloyds,
not seen the show for a while, I was very happy when it was announced for DVD
and people have been talking to me about it for months before that as the show
has been on cable and specifically the Universal HD channel. The 1.33 X 1 presentations here are some of
the best we have seen for any filmed TV series of the 1980s and the raves for
picture quality make sense from what people keep talking about from those
broadcasts. Like all the great Spy
shows, this too was shot in 35mm (anything to complete with Bond) and the show
had a slightly dark look without overdoing it.
The prints are clean and consistent throughout, with only minor detail
issues. Along with Columbo and Kolchak: The
Night Stalker, this is a classic TV series Universal needs to put out on
Blu-ray as soon as possible just for the playback of the picture.
Digital 2.0 Mono sound is fine for its time, as clean as can be expected and
surprisingly not warped, consider how much synthesizer music is used by
Police-band member Stewart Copeland, whose score is not bad after all these
years and instrumental theme song is a classic.
Of course, he takes risks and sometimes, his ideas of creepy music now
sound more like the ringtones of death!
However, it is yet another minor item that is on a shortlist of what few
things date the show.
Michael Sloan does an audio commentary for the pilot and an episode from the
next season are the extras, though a show this good deserves more and they have
three more seasons to add them.
point is that like so many of the classic TV shows and Spy series in
particular, The Equalizer is a show
that was built to last and does so in solid fashion. Anyone who buys this set will not be
- Nicholas Sheffo