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This review is from: Return of the Saint: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
Prior to watching this series again on video in the 1990s thanks to ITC Home Video, and then on Network DVD in the 00s, I grew up watching this great show as a young lad aged five and then getting a Corgi die-cast model of the white Jaguar XJS for Christmas the same year that the show was first broadcast. So imagine my delight when going into a branch of HMV in early 2007 to find that the show was at last out on DVD in its' entirety, with every single episode uncut! Not surprisingly I bought it there and then, as my good day had just got better...
In terms of production values, the series hasn't really dated at all. ITC certainly knew what they were doing when it came to finding expensive locations in which to film the foreign-based episodes, and bearing in mind that this was for late-70s TV audiences they also upped the ante as to regards car chases and action sequences, as was typical of other shows at the time i.e. The Sweeney and Starsky & Hutch. And just like its' 1960s predecessor ROTS has an impressive array of guest stars, namely Kate O'Mara, Ian Hendry, Tessa Wyatt, Britt Ekland, Joss Ackland, Burt Kwouk, John Woodvine, Anton Rodgers, Prunella Gee and Maurice Denham amongst others.
Many people seem to think that the reason for the shows' failure was the casting and performance of its' star, Ian Ogilvy, and that when it came to emulating Roger Moore he had an impossible act to follow. This is simply not true. Ogilvy was merely trying to be an action hero like all the others that were on TV at the time, and above all he was playing the part as he saw fit. The real reason why there was just one season of 24 episodes was because ITC chief Lew Grade cancelled the show on the basis that it was one of the the companys' most expensive shows, and that the money which would have been spent on making a second series was put towards film projects (the ill-fated Raise The Titanic! being one of them).
The episodes range from the the good to the average - best ones include Yesterdays' Hero, Murder Cartel, Signal Stop and the two-part story Collision Course, whilst The Armageddon Alternative and Appointment In Florence are two of the weakest episodes of the series. A bonus DVD in this set - disc seven - has on it an excellent set of special features, including a 45-minute documentary narrated by no less than Roger Moore of how the character of The Saint made the transition from the 60s to the 70s, plus there's a selection of different versions of the shows' title sequence and theme tune, and perhaps most intriguingly of all a PDF of an episode that was ultimately never made called Prince Of Darkness. This was a story that would have seen the Saint fighting vampires, and was cancelled at the request of Leslie Charteris who disliked the scripts as soon as he read them.
When watching a show like this again after all these years it's difficult not to feel nostalgic, and you have to wonder what would have been if there had been a second season, if not more. Just tell yourself one thing - whether you preferred Moore or Ogilvy, everybody had their favourite Saint. That plus the fact that this was one TV show that was unfairly treated by the general public, and should have been given a chance to prove it could be good.