We beg to brilliantly differ: There is not - repeat NOT - an Equalizer film being made. Oh, there most assuredly IS a movie with 'The Equalizer' (TM) in the works. However, as my favorite art history teacher use to emphasize: the difference is subtle but profound. Yes, one of the original co-creators, Michael Sloan, evidently is involved - but that's just about it.
NONE of those so magnificently responsible for the heart and soul SPIRIT which made "The Equalizer" show stand out - then, now and always - is on board. Along with Executive Producer James McAdams, I royally refer to Producer-Writer Coleman Luck - who not only penned the most scripts of anyone (18) but also crafted what we regard as the greatest two-part (and all around) Equalizer episode of all, "Blood and Wine".
Plus Director Alan Metzger (who helmed not only "Blood and Wine" but 17 others), which placed him only slightly ahead of Richard Compton (14) and Russ Mayberry (13). Add on Stewart Copeland's thrilling equally unforgettable music and Geoffrey Erb's atmospheric camerawork. Which can additionally include someone who'd found fame (not the musical or the show) previously on "Miami Vice" and currently is red-hot due to his contributions to "24" - writer Joel Surnow.
A'course, this doesn't EVEN include the irreplaceable EDWARD WOODWARD.
Now, there are few instances of actor/character chemistry so sublime it renders any and all who attempt to come after absolutely invisible: Connery's Bond, Shatner's Kirk and Nimoy's Spock all come immediately to mind.
Woodward's Robert McCall is another. Yes, we gather he'd already impressively plowed similar genre gardens with the still-heralded "Callan" and, from what little we've been able to glean of that earlier English series, it's rather worthless comparing the two: apple and oranges, but still both beautiful fruit.
Over the course of "The Equalizer"'s run (1985-1989), Woodward carved more than just your vigilante-revenge fantasy "hero" - thanks to the insightful, wonderfully complex (meaning GRAY, not the insulting, black-and-white version usually fed to the undemanding American masses with their McDonald's mentality and entertainment appetite) writing and Woodward's haunted, insightful, compassionate, humorous yet focused and purposeful agenda, we were treated to a characterization almost unknown in the annals of teevee (that it was airing during the same era of the equally landmark "Hill Street Blues" is also no accident).
This was a series which gave new meaning to the word "mature", let alone that woefully misapplied concept called "adult".
As we're all aware, McCall's most prominent relationship wasn't with his son (Scott) but Control: his ally, friend and counter-conscience whenever McCall thought he had the 'answers' (only for Control to reveal the former hadn't even gotten anywhere near approaching the correct questions).
Impressively underplayed with a marvelous mixture of knowing, pragmatism and an almost impish charm by
the superlative Robert Lansing, the characters of McCall and Control also displayed something rather rare: of two men who actually loved, respected and supported each other without being either overly macho and apologetic about their anchored affection (sans any sexual over- or under-tones: kinda along the lines of the equally revolutionary relationship between Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin: adventurous soulmates who never had any transitory romantic involvement).
When people wonder why Hollyweird ain't what it was (not that it EVER was "what it was"), this xerox-ophobia, least-creative-common-denominator of raping and trying to revamp television shows for the digital dumpyard is one reason why.
Now, the common snobbery of film buffs always tiresomely trotting out how allegedly "superior" movies are to other media is as wearisome as those neurotic nitwits who're so terminally insecure about their own tastes they never miss an opportunity to opine how film music can never hold a harmonic candle to its classical cousins.
Well, here's a flash for all of them - there ARE some things film can't do: and one of them is match the unparalled opportunity television has to sculpt and design a depth and scope of character over a concentrated span of YEARS film rarely can.
Whether it's "Hill Street Blues" or "The Sopranos", only once in a while - say, with "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy - can movies match this aspect. As to that, even the original "Highlander" film (forget all the sequels) profoundly pales (IOurUnhO) before the richness and added allure "Highlander: The Series" was able to introduce and build upon over the course of its sublime six years.
One shudders to even envision what the mad movie makers will come up with in their endlessly perverse pandering to this society's equally unhealthy, idiotic and insane preoccupation with the dysfunctional Dorian Gray (eternal youth) syndrome.
We know, We know, We KNOW: it's not even cast yet, it's not out yet, we haven't seen it ... narf, narf, narf.
Contrary to that cliche, imitation ISN'T the most sincere form of flattery (usually only the most desperate). Where the film industry's concerned, it's a recipe to eventual oblivion (as all the upcoming alternate technologies in the future will attest).
But, whatever 'The Equalizer' movie is, it won't - and, sadly, CAN'T - retain what makes the show so richly unforgettable: and ultimately unmatchable.
To paraphrase that Stratford dude: "A rose by any other name CANNOT smell as sweet".
And if any series deserves a top-notch DVD release, this is it.
Yep neo, the same thing happened with The Dukes of Hazzard ! Seriously though, I too loved The Equalizer series when it was shown in the UK back when. The film will probably be just another expensive, dull shoot-em-up with zero characterisation and style which will pander to the (easily pleased) masses. I remember a comedy spoof on a UK show wherein someone doing a great imitation of Woodward would just shout (really sternly) at the bad guys to make them stop doing bad things. Can anyone remember who did this parody and on what show?
My intention wasn't to slight or disminish in any way the other creative individuals in the series, and their 3rd season influence upheld the groundwork laid in the previous two. While some criticized the show's final year as being too self-consciously "topical", I never subscribed to that thesis for a second, and those involved can continue to hold their heads high.
As to that, although Coleman Luck has gone on record attesting to the many production problems afflicting the series in the final year (a crippling writers strike at the beginning, for significant starters) I believe the integrity of the show was maintained in spite - and despite - all this.
So I would send consummate compliments to all (and will delve even more deeply in the book I'm planning on the series) ...
You forget one important aspect in naming what made the series what it is: the decade it was made in. It is very popular and even demanded that the 80's are ridiculed in a (totally failed) attempt to pass for an intellectual or someone with "taste". Although I was not that much of a fan of the "Equalizer" but an avid fan of and preferring the "Night heat" series I see the visual similarities between the series. The hazy 80's all video, the lighting, the set design.
I wouldn't want to hear of someone even contemplating those great 80's series (Knightrider, Airwolf, Night heat, Equalizer) there are only two flavours available in this piss poor decade: 1) self important smug pretentiousness (24, sopranos, lost and all the other "cult" bilge) 2) "Aren't we all aware how camp this cheezy stuff is and aren't we so much more sophisticated nowadays that it only can be camped up" (Charlie's Angels, Starsky & Hutch)
Say what you will about Pam Anderson but on the "Jonathan Ross show" she very accurately motivated that she wouldn't want to be in a movie version of "Baywatch" stating that it would become a film that didn't respect the source material and wouldn't even be good in being a parody. She mentioned the Angels and Hutch examples in the process. Spot on Pam!
I'm really not interested in an "really actual" approach and very contemporary "realistic" slant on the story. No Middle East baddies, no international terror, no corrupt government stuff, no thank you. "The equalizer" was like a 80's American version of the "Prisoner" and like the "Man from U.N.C.L.E." to "The avengers" it was superior as it made more sense and didn't try to be too clever for its own good. I also don't want to look at yet another film with yet more covert smart arsses dressed in gray and black in a picture that is bled of all colour and consecutively been treated to a urinetreatment to get this piss stained yelow hue over the image. All dressed in that suck awful 00's "fashion" and having those equally suck awful 00's hairdos.
As for "instances of actor/character chemistry so sublime it renders any and all who attempt to come after absolutely invisible": "Kolchak", "Starsky & Hutch", "Knightrider", "Airwolf", "60's Batman", "Man from U.N.C.L.E.".
Oh and another thing. If the "Equalizer" were to be retreated today the soundtrack would most probably be all heavy metal in a totally pathetically contrived and failed attempt to convey how much of a anti establishment and skeptical film it is and how smart and intelligent the viewers of the film are.
Many things are to be left alone. "The equalizer" is one of them.
"Respecting the source material" is precisely WHY all those insulting and ridiculous retreads - from I SPY to THE AVENGERS and most everything else - suck so spectacularly, thus Ms. Anderson has an incredibly anchored point.
What THE EQUALIZER had, and no film can equal, was the time and space to sculpt a specific vision that went far beyond the lazy 'vigilante' nonsense appearing when it first aired. Aside from the foundational fact it had the terrific temerity to cast a mature actor - not 'personality' or 'star' - who radiated profound presence and charismatic chemistry from the character, not any cartoon-ish situations.
[ Surely it's hardly an accident no less a luminary than Olivier himself proclaimed Edward Woodward "the best actor in England". ]
And yer absolutely right-o, D.S.:
"Many things are to be left alone. 'The equalizer' is one of them".
I've managed to get most of the surviving Callan episodes on DVD. A contender for the best drama series ever; and Woodward is impossibly good in it. And who can forget Russell Hunter as Lonely? Suspend your disbelief of the stagey sets and videotape look and just enjoy the performances. I like to see Callan's habitual unsurety disappear when it absolutely has to; the way he upstages the younger, smoother contenders to his position; his sometime ruthlessness (such as threatening to throw scalding coffee in the face of a woman who won't tell him where her nephew is) and the way he has of making his superiors conform to his ideas of how things should be done.
The Equalizer was pretty good too, though I didn't like the preachiness of the last series when it became more like the Moralizer. Superb title theme (and visuals).
You have a valid point, Jeh, re the fourth and final year of "The Moralizer" (nifty); it was considerably at odds with the previous three as the tone wasn't at all what the audience had come to expect (there was one on gun control, prejudice against the deaf, exploitation of the homeless, etc. Not that anything was necessarily askance about their inclusion except the "statements" were far from subtle, and frequently stopped the segments cold).
We've seen snippets of
and would love to acquire the entire run (we know isolated segments and movies are available; any hint on where to go or how to obtain them?).
There's a funny story about a fan making Woodward laugh out loud by suggesting Callan eventually was so disenchanted he finally left England, disappeared for a radical sabbatical, then resurrected himself by turning up as Robert McCall in New York! ...
Callan looks difficult to obtain these days. UK Amazon is listing it as 'unavailable'. It's now time for a rewatch over the Christmas and new year holiday for me. The black and white episodes are even harder to get, since they haven't been released legitimately, but eBay can be your friend.
I am very much looking forward to The Equalizer release for 2008.