The Persuaders! on Blu-ray

Wednesday, 21 September 2011 00:00

For those of you who don’t know this 1971-1972 series, Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) and Lord Brett Sinclair (Roger Moore) are two millionaire playboys – one a self-made man who battled his way out of the New York slums, and the other a peer of the realm, born into the high life – who are duped by retired Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith) into righting wrongs that come onto the judge’s radar.

Filmed on location around Pinewood Studios and in Monaco, The Persuaders! was the casting coup of Lord Lew Grade, pitching two big names together, after the idea of two mismatched playboys first surfaced in an episode of The Saint (“The Ex-King of Diamonds” – Stuart Damon in that case playing the American half).  That episode is including within this stunning HD set, and I have bad news for all those on a budget – you are going to have to upgrade from your DVDs!

The Persuaders! Blu-ray as it was always meant to beThe show features one of television’s most memorable theme songs, courtesy of John Barry (shame they didn’t include it at the composer’s recent memorial at the Albert Hall), and the scripts add to the bizarre congruence here present – a series filmed on 35mm, allowing for this most eye-sizzling restorations that one could ever expect.  It’s now a well-worn cliché on Blu-ray sets of shows that were created on this highest quality of original material, but with such good source footage, the restoration can truly be jaw-dropping, and once again this is the case with this release.

The writing has become timeless as a sidebar to this – you could be watching a period piece filmed in 2011 the way the episodes come across – the quality forgives any slight bum notes on pacing, and to be honest there have been some recent TV productions that flow with less speed than is evident here.  So hurray to the original behind-the-scenes techies who gave us this feast-in-waiting with the quality of their work.

And, of course, let’s give many hurrahs to the writers – take a bow Terry Nation, Brian Clemens and one and all.

This is a rare treat, and if you know someone who has dipped their toes into the Blu-ray revolution, and who also appreciates quality television from the back catalogue, this is one for their Christmas list. Curtis and Moore constantly try to out-do each other, their sparring is effortless and breathless at the same time. It’s a love-hate-love relationship, and that carries through the years, as the surprise reunion on The Alan Titchmarsh Show demonstrates, one of the gamut of extras included on this set.

The alternate title sequence looks like an earlier, less image-packed version of what we finally received, and to be honest if you’re not paying attention you probably won’t be aware of the differences; it’s hardly a radical change, but is a rarity none the less, giving an idea of how much care was taken to get every element of the show as spot-on as possible.

Many of the other extras have been seen before on DVD, but don’t see that as a drawback – everything you could ever want all in one place, all in one package. All I can say is that we have the first serious candidate for NEXT year’s Cult TV Awards in the category of “DVD/Blu-ray Presentation”.


Special Features on this set include:
  • Recently found production footage (including some behind the scenes) (mute, HD)
  • Extensive image galleries of rare and previously unseen stills (HD)
  • The Saint: “The Ex-King of Diamonds” (HD)
  • Previously unseen alternate title sequence (HD)
  • Viewing Notes by archive television historian Andrew Pixley
  • Moore and Curtis reunion on The Alan Titchmarsh Show
  • Contemporary French interview footage from 1971
  • 1972 Sun TV Awards footage
  • BECTU History Project audio interview with Johnny Goodman
  • Commentaries with Roger Moore, Tony Curtis and production staff
  • “The Morning After - Remembering The Persuaders!” - exclusive documentary
  • AVROSkoop documentary
  • Top of the Pops – Pan’s People walk around a casino to the theme music.
  • European and (mute) UK promotional spots
  • Trailers and archive newsreel footage
  • Tony Curtis interviewed by Russell Harty
  • French titles and commercial break bumpers
  • Script and Memorabilia PDFs
  • All four international feature-length compilations with trailers

The Persuaders! 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Set is out now from Network.  The eight disc set (five Blu-rays, three DVDs) has a running time of 1,300 minutes approx, a ‘PG’ certificate, and a RRP of £79.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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