Top positive review
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Exotic avenues and alleyways
on 20 May 2013
Despite the fact it's possibly overlooked in the ITC canon, 'The Protectors' has always been one of my favourite series from Lew Grade's stable. I remember it being repeated on ITV in the early 80s, just before 'Blockbusters' grabbed the 5.15 slot, though only around a dozen were shown; it's therefore great to see all 52 episodes, and thanks to the marvellous Network for releasing them. Unlike most ITC shows, it only runs to 25 minutes per episode. On the plus side, this means no padding and little pussyfooting before we're straight into the action; on the minus side, one could argue this comes at the expense of character development. However, the fast-paced nature of the show and the novel use of European locations (rather than the standard ITC stock footage) makes it appealing, as do the three stars. Robert Vaughn is dependably square-jawed, Tony Anholt is eternally suave, and Nyree Dawn Porter is stunningly beautiful. The guest stars are impressive too, not only those who went onto later fame, but the regular repertory company of ITC character actors who can always be relied on to make an appearance.
Not all three stars appear in every episode; one features Vaughn on his own in one of his few outings as a director. Unfortunately, this episode is perhaps the worst of the entire series, in which everything is played for laughs reminiscent of a bad movie version of an early 70s sitcom. By contrast, the episode in which Nyree Dawn Porter appears on her own is one of the best; not only does it guest-star Manfred Mann's Paul Jones looking more like someone from the Grateful Dead, but it also gives an intriguing inkling of what it might have been like had ITC had the guts to make a series featuring a woman as its lead character.
The theme tune is one of the best, the incidental music is sufficiently groovy (and sticks in the head) and the whole series is definitely worth investing in if you enjoy this kind of thing! Just wish there'd been some commentary extras, though it's sad to think Vaughn is the only one of the three stars still with us.