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October 7, 2015

The Equalizer: Season One - DVD review

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 3rd 2008 2:29PM

The EqualizerDid you know they're making a big screen version of The Equalizer? It's true, and it seems like a really bad idea to me.

Not that there's anything wrong with the show (as you'll see in my review after the jump) it's just that this type of lone, ex-spy hero bit has been done to death in the past 20 years, and there's nothing really special about it anymore. And like all big screen versions of a TV show, it's not only going to miss the boat by just being BIGGER than the show (big name stars, celebrity villains, explosions, explosion, explosions), it's going to miss the point of what makes an audience love the original TV show in the first place. It's not the plot or how they did the show, it's that the show came at a certain time (in our lives and TV-wise), in a certain way, and it starred a certain person. Just look at the Charlie's Angels movies or that horrid Beverly Hillbillies movie. It's not that either of the original shows had original plots or any incredible innovation, it's that they were of a time, the way we experienced them.

So I cringe when I hear there's going to be a big screen Equalizer. Thank God we have the DVDs of the original.

This is actually one of those shows I thought would never come to DVD. It lasted a few seasons, but I thought it would be one of those "in the middle" shows: not short-lived enough to guarantee that there would be no DVD and not long-running enough to guarantee a definite release. But so many shows are being released now; I just hope this one sells enough that it makes Universal take notice and release the other three seasons.

Packaging: Nothing incredibly innovative, but that's not an insult. Sometimes a DVD set is either overly intricate or overly flimsy. This is neither. There's a plastic case that slips inside of an outside box, which has a picture of Edward Woodward and the skyline of New York City on the front. No booklet inside, but a lot of sets don't have booklets.

Audio/Video: Both are quite good. It's really nice to have Stewart Copeland's music loud and in stereo. Surfing around the web, I've noticed that some people are saying that much of the original music that was used in the show is missing here, because they couldn't get rights to the songs. Now, it's been quite a while since I've seen the show, so I'm not sure how many songs from that time period were used and in what episodes they might be missing from. If anyone has any concrete info on what songs are missing and from what episodes, please leave a comment below.

Extra Features: There's only one commentary, and sadly, Woodward isn't on it. It does have creator/producer Michael Sloane, and once you get past his constant explanations of what line was crucial to the entire plot of the series, it's filled with some neat trivia. For example, CBS had no desire to cast Woodward in the role of Robert McCall (they wanted Robert Culp or maybe Ben Gazzara), but once they saw the test footage they jumped on board. There's also an explanation of how some characters (such as McCall's old agency buddy, played by Jerry Stiller!) didn't return for the rest of the series.

It's funny to see who guest starred on The Equalizer in its first season: Tony Shalhoub, Bradley Whitford, J.T. Walsh, David Alan Grier, Luis Guzman, Lori Petty, Esai Morales, William Zabka, Ed O'Neill, Christine Baranski, Charles S. Dutton, Kim Delaney, Patricia Richardson, even Adam Ant.

There is a good episode from the second season included in the set, "Beyond Control," so that's a nice bonus.

This set is a Godsend if you're a fan of the show. Isn't it great to be in a world where we can actually have The Equalizer on our shelves to watch over and over again, instead of having to wait for some local station or cable station to "buy" the series and start showing repeats?

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I'm really baffled at the disappointment that has been shown in the missing music. I get it with WKRP or some music heavy show, but with the Equalizer? It really only centers around scenes where McCall walks into a nightclub, so there was probably a Gloria Estafan or Thompson Twins playing in the background. Who cares? Better than to have no DVDs at all.

March 11 2008 at 12:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Randall

You can tell when the original music has been replaced- the sound gets louder drowning out the dialogue. I could try and list the specific instances of new music, but almost every episode features at least one cut. Universal has really butchered the DVDs by releasing them this way.

March 06 2008 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

I remember thinking that I would feel so safe around Robert McCall. I don't think I would want to see a big screen version, because There Can Be Only One Robert McCall. Edward was perfect in the roll; cool, cold, determined. No thank you to the movie. But I'm buying Season one tomorrow.

March 03 2008 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Edward Woodward really made this show. He was great ! Who could they possibly cast in a current movie that would be as good?

March 03 2008 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David D

I think this show got better and better as it went along, and as the "Robin Hood" premise got farther away. I'd argue that Robert McCall was one of the most complex and layered characters EVER on network television, as he continued to deal with his past and couldn't ever really escape it. Inspired, commanding work from Edward Woodward. And it also was a premise that was intended for a series -- new people every week whose odds he had to "equalize," and thus helping himself to atone for his professional sins, so to have a single plot in a movie seems to defeat the entire idea of the show. (I know, I know, and the "Mission: Impossible" movies are nothing like the show and neither was "I Spy" and Maxwell Smart was the veteran agent, not the novice learning from the seasoned Agent 99...)

Still: nice to have this back on the radar, and I hope the later seasons will be released -- I was also a huge fan of the very cool and nearly forgotten Robert Lansing, who's terrific in this show.

March 03 2008 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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