The Equalizer - Blood & Wine DVD

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00 Written by 

The Equalizer - Blood and Wine - Out on DVDEdward Woodward is the original and best Robert McCall. The character is a retired covert intelligence officer, wanting to make amends for his sins of the past by offering his services, free of charge, as a troubleshooter, protector and investigator. Aided by a group of former associates who he knows from his undercover days, he protects the streets of New York City, offering his own form of justice to those who reply to his newspaper classifieds advert: “Odds Against You? Need Help? Call The Equalizer. 212-555-4200.”

To coincide with the DVD and Blu-ray release of the hit Sony Columbia movie “The Equalizer” starring Denzel Washington this week, Fabulous Films are putting out a feature- length made for television episode of the original series. “Blood and Wine” guest stars Telly Savalas of Kojak fame, and it’s no small wonder that one of the most well thought-of stories is there as a taster for the four seasons of The Equalizer that are already out on DVD. There should be a huge amount of interest from those who have no memory of Edward Woodward’s defining version of the character, as the Washington movie grossed nearly $200 million worldwide at the box office. And now, thanks to Fabulous Films and Cult TV, you could have had the chance to win one of three copies of “Blood and Wine” up for grabs in our prize competition.

The competition  is now closed, but our lucky winners were David Carlile of Summerston, Glasgow; Colin Cooper of March, Cambridgeshire; and Paul Jeffries of Norton, Stockton-on-Tees.

So, first things first about the release – the background. The Equalizer was an action-adventure series originally broadcast on the CBS Network in the USA over four seasons between 1985 and 1989 (ITV got through most of the first three seasons here in the UK). Woodward was known to Executive Producer and co-creator Michael Sloan from his performances in ITV’s Callan, and wrote The Equalizer with him in mind.  Casting a British actor as the star of an American TV series was not the thing to do at the time, so Sloan fought hard to secure his choice for the role.  

McCall’s clients are by-and-large regular New York citizens who need protecting from prowlers, local thugs, domestic abuse, dodgy officials, corporate big-wigs, and assortments of others who are above the law. He charges little for his services, if anything at all.

“Blood and Wine” includes the recurring character of McCall’s former boss, “Control” (Robert Lansing – Gary Seven from the Star Trek back-door pilot “Assignment Earth”, Lt Jack Curtis in Automan, Paul Blaisdell in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues), who in payment turns a blind eye to this wholesale ‘re-assigning’ of agency personnel. One such who also appears in this double episode is Mickey Kostmayer (Keith Szarabajka – Daniel Holtz in Angel, Chaz Gracen in Profit, Harlan Williams in Golden Years). Mickey doesn't really understand why McCall is so driven in his quest, but in their back story there was a reason for his unflinching loyalty - McCall had stepped in to prove his innocence when Mickey had been charged with assaulting a superior officer.

All of the action benefits from theme music (and much of the incidentals) from Stewart Copeland – he of The Police.

In the UK, for its era it was an extremely popular series, peaking with the first season episode “Lady Cop”, broadcast on ITV in 12 November 1986 with a rating of 13.9 million viewers. During its time in the UK, the pilot episode (a superb piece of TV) was shown twice, season one we had 19 of the 21 episodes (missing out “China Rain” and “Unpunished Crimes”), season two 21 of the 22 episodes (“Hearstrings” was missing), and with season three we had 17 of the 22 episodes (missing, would you believe, the “Blood and Wine” two-parter, the “Mission McCall” two-parter, and “A Dance on the Dark Side”). By the time season four’s 22 episodes were available for broadcast, ITV had decided that the UK didn’t need to see these final instalments, so didn’t screen them at all.

So, to “Blood and Wine” itself. McCall is searching for Martin ‘Alpha’ Loeber (played by William Atherton who has just been seen as Viceroy Berto Mercado in Defiance). The guy is termed a ‘terrorist’, a formerly religious man who wants revenge on ‘God’ by committing various atrocities. Given current sensitivities to nut-jobs such as this, the storyline has a great resonance with a 21st Century audience.

Getting embroiled in all of this is a former terrorist-turned-priest, played with suitable brooding conflict by Joseph Hayden (Telly Savalas), who is aiding the intelligence networks. McCall doesn’t like Hayden, recalling him from the past for being responsible for the death of a relative years before. McCall dismisses the priest's own search for redemption, believing it to be some sort of ruse. Scenes between Savalas and Woodward are gripping and tense - it really is a case of seeing two acting heavyweights trying to out-muscle each other.

Overall, this two-parter, aside from the pilot episode itself, is the most perfect introduction to the original series, and hopefully will springboard purchasers into buying the original seasons in their entirety.

Incidentally, “The Equalizer: Blood and Wine” was the third paperback tie-in by Star Books for the series, written by David Deutsch, and copyright 1987. The original script was by Coleman Luck, who was the scriptwriter for 18 episodes of The Equalizer, more than anyone else.

The Equalizer: Blood and Wine is released in a single disc set by Fabulous Films, with a running time of approx 93 minutes, carries a ‘12’ certificate, and has a recommended retail price of £9.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Monday, 02 February 2015 08:39

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