TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 13 August 2011
The Professionals is an exciting series from the 1970s. The DVD sets of all four seasons are excellent. This box set is very good and it is excellently presented.
After the success of the TV series the New Avengers that had been produced by Avengers MK1 productions and London Weekend Television, creators and producers Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell created this new series The Professionals. The show was screened on the ITV network in 1977. The first series had 14 episodes and it was a big hit with viewers. The other three series also have 14 episodes per season.
The series stars Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson as agents of the fictional CI5.
The series was created to make a show that would build on the hard edged and gritty toughness of earlier show The Sweeney as well as making a British series that mirrored the sort of fast action of American series Starskey and Hutch.
Clemens and Fennell were executive producers of the show. They had much experience in British TV producing and writing for many shows including the Avengers during the 1960s and the New Avengers more recently. They also brought in composer Laurie Johnson who had composed music for The Avengers and The New Avengers, to write the music score for this new show. Sidney Hayers produced this first series, and the rest was produced by
Albert Fennell, Brian Clemens and composer Laurie Johnson had worked together in the 1960s and together had created MK1 productions to make the New Avengers. The same team as MK1 productions now produced The Professionals.
Criminal Intelligence 5, or CI5 is a special branch of British Law that deals with crime of a serious nature that go beyond the capability of the police. It is a Unit that is instructed by the Home Secretary.
CI5 is fictitious but it enabled the writers to give our heroes a wide variety of situations to deal with.
It has similar appearance to the real MI5 or CID. But being fictitious also gave the show more artistic licence compared to the portrayal of the Flying Squad in The Sweeney. CI5 deal with espionage, cold war problems, terrorists, civil unrest, and large-scale crime.
The head of CI5 is George Cowley, a no nonsense leader that believes in fighting fire with fire. His best agents are Ray Doyle (Martin Shaw), a softer more caring but hot headed ex detective constable who has worked the tough parts of London, and William Bodie (Lewis Collins) who is an ex paratrooper and SAS sergeant with a calmer but tough attitude.
The pair are a solid unit, faithful to each other and prepared to break the rules if it gets the right result.
Both actors Shaw and Collins had played villains on an episode of The New Avengers ('Obsession') together the year before.
George Cowley, (played brilliantly by Gordon Jackson) the boss of CI5, has a nickname of "Morris" after the car of the same name. He was a Major in the British Army and also had worked in the secret service including MI5. He is very experienced and makes a great leader. He is able to defend himself. He has many friends and contacts and is not afraid to clash with people to get a job done. His two best men Bodie and Doyle privately call him "The Cow". His favourite drink is Scotch whiskey.
Doyle, (Played excellently by Martin Shaw) was a former detective constable that had worked in tough parts of London. Cowley, head of CI5 had recruited him to work with Bodie. Doyle is an expert shot and used to run a Karate class for kids on his beat. He likes cooking, football, art, music and women.
Bodie, (played magnificently by Lewis Collins) was a former paratrooper and SAS soldier who had also been in the Merchant Navy. Cowley, (boss of CI5) recruited him. He is relaxed and confident. He has great humour and he is tough. He likes football, drinking and women.
The first series has a lot of writing from Brian Clemens and the show has a lot of variety in the plot lines. There is gradual character development and plenty of action. The show is fast paced without a dull moment.
The show was often criticised for its violence even though there is little blood seen. There are scenes of fast chases, car chases, fist fights, shootings, martial arts and asphyxiation however.
One episode here in season one, "Klansmen" was not screened in the UK. After production TV executives withdrew it from transmission for its Race related theme.
The show was also criticised for its "political incorrectness" for use of so called sexist and racist terms.
The controversy and disagreement about its suitability for screening led to the show being blocked for repeating on terrestrial television for over two decades. And the episode Klansmen is always left out.
The second series gets off to a good start with a story about a hi-tech rifle that is stolen while in the care of Doyle. There is a race to catch the villain, as Doyle becomes a target. Other episodes see Bodie and Doyle trying to find a visiting Israeli minister that has gone missing. We also see them fighting corruption in the police force, becoming body guards to a foreign official, uncovering an assassination plot, breaking a drug smuggling operation, catching terrorists and chasing a man bent on revenge against those he holds responsible for the death of his wife and child.
Series three has some interesting stories. There are stories about spies, double agents, more terrorists, undercover work to find out whom an assassin was intending to kill, Drug smugglers and a violent motorcycle gang. We also see an excellent episode, "Mixed doubles" where Bodie and Doyle get intensive training to stop a soon to be assassination attempt. Unknowns to them the two assassins are getting equal intensive training to carry out the assassination.
There is another episode where there is a killer who is targeting CI5 agents. And another episode where Bodie and Doyle take their girlfriends away for the weekend but find themselves in danger from a fugitive and armed gang.
This series is one of the best of all the four seasons with some great plot lines, production and acting.
Series four, the final series, sees some interesting plot lines. There is a story that involves a bullion shipment being hijacked. Another story has Bodie and Doyle trying to protect a gang member who has given himself up. Another story sees Doyle get seriously injured and Bodie has to work alone. Then there is another story where there is a sniper at a hospital.
In this series the plot lines are getting more predictable and there are many themes being re used. We get Bodie and Doyle trying to stop a mentally ill ex secret agent who is on the loose and out for revenge. We also get a story about Bodie and Doyle trying to protect a visiting deposed African dictator. And in the final episode a group is assassinating retired spies and Bodie and Doyle have to try to stop them.
There are a number of cars featured in the series. Some are from British Leyland in the early series, with some Rover models, some Triumph models, a Leyland Princess and a Dolomite Spirit. Later series feature cars by Ford with the Capri, Granada, Escort and Cortina.
In the 1999 Sky 1 Television created a remake sequel series called CI5 The New Pofessionals.
Bodie, Doyle and Cowley were replaced with three men and a woman. Harry Malone (played by (Edward Woodward), Sam Curtis (played by Colin Wells), Chris Keel (Kal Weber), Tina Backus (Lexa Doig). The show was not a success and to date has not appeared on DVD. Therefore it is not included here.
This DVD set contains all of the shows from all four series. It is uncut. And has been digitally re mastered. The picture quality is not that great on the early episodes but it is good enough. The later series see the picture quality improve suggesting the problem is down to the age of the material. Each series is spread over four DVD discs and they are neatly displayed in a good fold out box.
It is a great series from a by gone age. It is most enjoyable.