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on 9 March 2017
Edward Woodward shines as the enigmatic but troubled ex-CIA man Robert McCall - mirroring his most famous role in the 60s TV series "Callan"; Robert Lansing as his 'Control' officer provides excellent support; and its fun to spot future TV and film stars in early career roles. Shot on 16mm film creates a gritty urban quality suiting the series' tone and style perfectly, the electronic music by Stewart Copeland (from pop group The Police) is VERY 80s but provides an iconic TV Theme, and the Special Features are basic / negligible. Honestly it's the 22 episodes you're buying this for and I highly recommend this show to anyone.
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on 9 September 2016
It’s hard to believe it’s been some 30 years since this series first hit our TV screens. In the morass of PI shows that dominated the schedules at the time (Magnum, The Rockford Files, Matt Houston, Simon & Simon et al), Michael Sloan’s The Equalizer was a breath of fresh air. It starred a Brit in the lead role, for a start; by my reckoning, probably the first US TV show to do so. And it paid off in spades.

Though, to be frank, you might not have thought so watching the first couple of episodes. Sloan was quoted as saying that he wrote the show and the character of Robert McCall with Edward Woodward in mind, having loved him in Callan (didn’t we all?), but I probably wasn’t the only one to doubt his wisdom as I watched the star trying to decide whether or not to adopt a Mid-Atlantic accent. Thank goodness common sense prevailed and Edward Woodward finally relaxed into his own voice. It was then that the show took off. And what a ride it was, finally ending after 4 seasons.

The quality of the piece lay not only in Woodward’s interpretation of the role – a world away from the low-key and haunted David Callan – but in the writing and the array of co-stars and character actors who wended their way through the story lines. From Keith Szarabajka’s Mickey Kostmeyer, McCall’s oft-times right-hand man, to Mark Margolis’s Jimmy, the seedy fixer, and from Robert Lansing’s ‘Control’ through to Maureen Anderman’s bar owner Pete O'Phelan, the quality of the acting never flagged. And talking of which; given the era the series was made in, how many TV shows can you name that had Robert Mitchum and Telly Savalas as co-stars, for goodness sake?

As the series progressed there were calls for the violence to be toned down. We’d probably think it was a bit passé now, but to my thinking, it was always integral to the plot. It created a dark edge to the show that was missing in so many of its contemporaries. A case in point being the ‘Breakpoint’ episode, where McCall was among the wedding guests held prisoner by terrorists. How he dealt with one of the villains in a wash room stall was particularly memorable. Gratuitous? Certainly not by today’s standards.

Even when Edward Woodward was off the show for a significant number of episodes due to a heart attack, his place was taken by the always watchable Richard Jordan, as another former and embittered secret operative, Harley Gage. The story lines remained as strong as ever, a mixture of crime and espionage, the latter usually involving McCall’s shady past as an agent for an unnamed security service. Those stories in particular gave the show added depth, which, I venture to suggest, it would not have had with an American in the lead.

So, if you haven’t watched the Equalizer before (could be you weren’t even born when it first aired – now, that’s scary..), give it a go and stick with it, you won’t be disappointed…at least I hope not….
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 March 2012
The Equalizer is a series that I have long held in affection. Banned by my parents from watching it when it was first on (it was deemed to be too violent for my 12-14 year old eyes) I fondly remember covertly taping and watching episodes. It stars the ever so suave Edward Woodward as Robert McColl, a taciturn and stoic ex secret squirrel who now hires himself out to those who need a hand fighting off the overdog, in whatever form. It was a great format that allowed for a really wide variety of adventures as he gets involved with everything from Russian spies to rapacious landlords. Woodward, who already had form for this kind of role in the superb British TV production Callan really carries the piece. He is quiet, preferring to use his brain rather than brawn, but ever so menacing. Just one steely look and you feel nervous. It's a master class in how to play a tough guy.

All the episodes from the first series are presented here, as far as I can tell uncut. There are, however, issues. This is a cheap as chips release from Universal. The transfers are quite poor in places, with washed out colours, seepage and a general feel of a badly recorded VHS copy. It's watchable, but for the price I paid I expected a lot better. These days there is just no excuse for this kind of sloppy work. Especially when compared to other releases under the Universal/Playback label, notably the first series of Kojak. The DVD's themselves seem to have been printed as cheaply as possible and slung into a box with no booklet or extras. There are 6 DVDs in 3 slimline boxes, held in a card slipcase. There is no information other than episode titles (a brief synopsis of each would have been nice?)

So, 5 stars for the show, but only three overall due to the poor quality.

I see series two is (finally!) due for release later this year. Let's hope that one fares better, and that various music licensing issues are sorted out soon to allow the release of series 3 and four.
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on 4 December 2012
When slipping the disk in you know you must take this with a large pinch of salt. Even so, you are tempted into thinking 'what if...?' This is good-natured hokum that's finding it's feet with a feelgood factor thrown in. This first series set was released four years ago (series two is on its way!) and until now I had resisted to buy. Until, that is, Amazon reduced the price so far I was tempted over the edge to dip back and remember how it started.

So, we have a elder-generation, slightly portly, English ex-CIA one-man vigilante standing up to protect the rights of ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives? Prepare to be instantly whisked back into an alternative 1980's than the reality we lived through. How someone as dangerious as Robert McCall doesn't get riddled with bullets or blown up every episode is a miracle. He wouldn't be allowed out to hawk his wares (and his numerous hardwares) around with his classified ad in the papers, his ex-bosses would see to that. And as for the assitance and mopping-up problems he saddles the local police department and the friendly lieutenant with....

Every series has to find its way but once it identified its path it refined itself quite nicely. Some observers have wondered if Woodward's world-weary character of McCall isn't based on perhaps an upmarket version of the marvellous Callan (which UK run ended a decade before) but this comparisom is not really helpful, both series' premise are miles apart. But it was nice to see that shadowey figure emerge into the light once again, combined with Stuart Copelands' then-futuristic-sounding theme music - the latter's being a member of the Police (one of the biggest bands going at the time) gave many an introductory notoriety to this series, and which still sounds good today. Enjoy a straightforward blast from the past.
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on 28 July 2012
I was so pleased when this show finally became available to purchase on DVD! I have very fond memories of watching this when it was shown on late night televison (ITV) in the late eighties(?!), and still remember sitting up in bed, in the dark (with the volume turned down as not to wake the rest of the family!).

I loved the theme tune, to this very day I consider it one of the greatest ever from a television show; I thought that Edward Woodward (a name once described by Sir John Gielgud as sounding like a fart in the bath), and the idea of this well dressed slightly older man being able to kick ass was so cool.

I loved the idea of him having a fascinating past, and found the gritty realism so different. I also remember loving the synth music from throughout the show, and looking back now it is very much representative of the eighties.

The show still very much holds up to todays scrutiny; the image and sound quality is at times less than perfect, but I am willing to forgive it to finally possess this series!

Nicely packaged, and at a pretty good price for so much content; superb!
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on 26 February 2014
I had forgotten how many of the episodes that stay in the head actually came from season 1. Lots of episodes, all of them solid enough, you rarely look at them thinking "as if". In fact seeing what is really just a tubby little English guy in an overcoat strolling round like he owns the place never really seems odd at all. That was the real foundation of the success of this series, something that should have worked didn't and Edward Woodward has to be praised for how he achieved that. The acting generally is strong enough to keep you watching and suspending disbelief. Plus the game of "what did I see them in" whenever a recognisable but not big star face shows up is good fun as well. Plus that music sums up the era and the show perfectly.
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on 22 July 2010
There are many shows out there, some more known than others. Some are certainly much more heard of than The Equalizer. So, why pick this one up?

Well, to put it short, this show is smart.

Robert McCall is a self-retired operative of "The Agency". He left because of all the suffering and killing he caused, believing he was doing good for the people (he actually was, most of the time). Deciding that on his own he would help more people and cause less harm, he walked out. Now he works for little pay to protect the lives of those who are not in position to help themselves. In New York, of all places.

Let's start with saying that Robert is not a simple one-sided "good cop" character. He lived for quite some time, did a lot, seen a lot. He has flaws, and his character is rich. And he has a piano, on which he plays from time to time. His grown up son and his ex-wife play a large role in several episodes, mainly to show that he doesn't only care for his job. He also has many friends and contacts, which he often calls for help if the going gets really tough. His clients are not simple, and they can be anyone of any age or gender. Robert does not only rescue "damsels in distress". Young boys and 30-something men need help quite frequently. The "bad guys" are also well done, being corrupt businessmen, serial killers, VERY stupid teenagers... and sometimes even women.

The acting is top-notch, as is the cinematography. The picture quality is quite good for a TV show from the 80's. The action scenes are professionally done, and the violence (where without it?) is not held back, making 15+ rating quite reasonable. There is some good fighting and... at least one death per episode (almost every one). The gunfights look like they were choreographed by someone who knew the thing.

The music was composed by ex-drummer of The Police, and it suits the show extremely well, capturing action, suspense and even occasional romance.

The only downside is that there aren't any extras on this DVD set. And there are no subtitles either. But on the other hand, PAL release is completely unedited, while Reg. 1 release has many musical changes and has poorly mixed sound. If you are buying the European release, you are getting the best deal out of the 2.

So, with all that being said, why not buy yourself some good action/crime series to watch in the evening?
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on 30 April 2014
I have only recently bought The Equalizer, being informed from my very very reliable Dad that this is a series I'd like, as he did back when this show first aired on ITV, and boy was he right or what. Few series have started as well as this series did, so far I've yet to find even a slightly weak episode. Edward Woodward is superb as Robert McCall, and its cool to see a slightly older guy in the role of the tough man with a good heart in him battling all sorts of things this modern world is rife with. Many of the themes of the series are so much reality, and pretty hard hitting too at that. I first bought season three, then four and now this first season. I've seen quite a few reviews of the first season, and heard quite a few people saying that it was season two where the show truly found its feet: not so, not so in any sense of the word. There's so much brilliant writing in this first season. First class acting too.The Pilot Episode is impressive. I love the way McCall says Hello to many of the plethora of loonies in this series. There are plenty of highlights aside from the pilot, mine have to be "Lady Cop" and "Back Home" and "Reign Of Terror" but every minute of the first season is taught, gritty and engaging. Modern shows aren't made solid and beefy like this any more, that's for sure. What is also good about the show is the bad language is minimalist. These modern films are over endowed with too much sick gob, as I'm a person who can get by without it. Dad, you were so right, thanks for the letting me know. This show is already one of my favourites ever....
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VINE VOICEon 5 May 2014
Woodward's biggest role before this was Callan, a man driven by demons. This time the character is less fraught and took him Stateside and provided the embryo for more modern series such as "Person of Interest". It may be the best season, as poor health decreased his part and he delegated work to others later.
A chance to admire a fine actor and have a bit of nostalgia.
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on 21 August 2013
Words cannot praise this series enough. Would probably be wasted on someone who did not live in those times where we lived under the daily threat of nuclear war and mobile phones didn't exist but watching this series brings back floods of childhood memories. This was such a hard-hitting series in its day that its stories still hold their own even though we have become used to seeing brutality and violence on our screens. Worth every penny and in my opinion very cheap for such a great series.
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