Souf, You Hit the Bullseye All the Way ‘Round Department:
We left Noo Yawk a coupla years afore the series started filming, but your sage assessment of the locations employed by the show during its four-year expedition can’t be disputed. In fact, it’s as hypnotic a visual Historical Record of Manhattan that evokes elegiac mem’ries (especially around Times Square, where we lived for two years at 54th & Broadway down the block from Studio 54).
That slice of New York (for all its urban intensity, mobile menace after-hours and just the sheer exhilarating canvas of humanity on vibrant, sometimes unvirtuous view) lends the show a provide panache very few of its ilk can equal.
No doubt the on-location shooting escalated the show’s budget inna way that caused the bean-counters at Universal to have financial nightmares, but it elevated and bestowed upon the show an anchored and authoritative authenticity virtually impossible to duplicate/replicate or imitate on El Lay locations.
As for your equally astute APPRECIATIVE assessment of the extraordinary casting, that accolade belongs to Lois Planco, who was nominated in 1986, 1987 and 1989 by The Casting Society of America for Best Casting in TV.
And wee ARE writing That Book (freakish snipers definitely knot wanted).
Outside of his son, perhaps no relationship encapsulated and typified in such titled memorable fashion the endlessly conflicted contours of Robert McCall’s haunted character as his oft-embattled but always beautifully-balanced bond with Robert Lansing’s impeccable portrayal of Control.
Now Mr. Lansing had already distinguished himself for years in a variety of formats and mediums,
even a prospective Star Trek pilot that never flew any further galactically:
However, our intensely original intro to his innate acting authority came alongside classy Dana Wynter
at the “Thunderball”-ing sixties height of America’s spy craze vis-a-vis 1966’s
Once he beamed aboard alongside Mr. Woodward, he became (in essence) the show’s usually ambivalent, sometimes antagonistic, frequently inscrutable but always – In All Ways – someone who cared about his espionage partner as a brother-in-affectionate-arms.
And, as with all familiar matters, they rarely saw eye-to-eye since Control still hadda operate (and survive) inside the insidious system his friend had walked away from (he thot). Their confrontation 5:20 in is one of their earliest Vesuvius fireworks, wonderfully supported one of by Mr. Copeland’s most eloquent scores.
Oh, and yes, that is last year’s Oscar winner Melissa Leo in one of her earliest impressive showcases
Then again, this was a series which, more often than not, brought out the best and brightest in practically everyone associated with it.
I had to duck in to post this supremely profound message:
SIXTY THOUSAND VIEWS? WOW!
At the risk of your righteous wrathful fire, I, too have never seen a single episode of this show. This was due to my being a fairly young 'un at the time and being out and about, living life and then writing about it and filming, editing and scoring my own projects. I simply didn't watch the tube for years with any regularity before giving it up altogether in '97, using the machine for DVD watching of films.
But this thread is an education. It's not about the same subjects that get hashed to death on such boards, so for someone like me who isn't familiar with the subject, there is a degree of objectivity that allows for a fresh look at this 'making of'-kind of material.
I urge any young filmmakers to study this thread, thoroughly. It is a fine intro to what it takes to create a television show for a major network that manages to have a style of its own, one that can attract top talent in front of and behind the camera because, whatever the snipers or critics may or may not say--the professionals KNOW. As you have written and shown, no one person makes something so complex as a television series. It takes many pieces to put together anything that's more than just ok entertainment for an hour before bed.
Some folks here know you off the board--I am unashamedly honored to be one of those. We've exchanged VOLUMES of correspondence (and I even know what you sound like now), and you have one quality that emerges when you are on a topic that really touches you--enthusiasm.
That you have shared your knowledge and your enthusiasm, and more importantly to others, that you can ARTICULATE both, is something for which you deserve applause and congratualtions.
So...Congratualtions on this project, Neo. You are this site's bard, it's keeper-of-the-books, its Kael and Agee in one. You combine a stylish presentation on par with the best of that other writer who uses words as a jeweler uses brass, gold and diamonds (Samuel R. Delany, for those who don't know the name of one of my personal writing heroes) with the passion and focus of a giddy fan, all guided by your refined taste and editor's sense of proportion.
Neo, I can't wait for your book to come to publication. I hope you keep all of us Equalizer fans in the loop regarding your progress on this board. I cannot wait to read it. I find that the more that I watch the show, the more questions I have. I am glad that you enjoyed your stint as a NYC resident near Studio 54. Around that same time, I was working near where you lived in a non-television part of the entertainment field. If you had stuck around a little longer, I guess you would have been fortunate to catch them fliming in Times Square or on 59th Street.
Of course all New Yorkers wanted to know how did the Equalizer always find a parking spot so easily. Did you notice that whenever he parked next to a meter, he never put in any money? That's ok. I would have fed the meter for him.
The attention to detail in this series was amazing. Where did they find the Hip Hop dancers in The Defector or the roller skaters in the Manon episode? If you study the scenes where there are crowds waiting for someone to appear in front of a building, or even the nanny scene in China Rain where they show the nannies talking and the kids playing, you can see explicit attention to detail in the selected extras and the staging of the scene. There are so many people with small roles in each episode, one can see how much work must have been involved to maintain the quality.
When the Equalizer was first broadcast, I recall that there were other popular hit crime dramas at the time, such as Miami Vice and Magnum PI. The latter 2 showed off their tropical locale with the use of bright colors and a sunny backdrop. The Equalizer was totally different and its "look" intrigued me. It was so dark. It had lots of night scenes. Even the daytime scenes mostly showed cloudy weather. The Equalizer wore neutral or dark colors. All of this fit in so carefully and enhanced the dark plots, greedy characters, the comments that this shadow world was in shades of grey rather than black and white, and McCall's soul searching "(after you, sir") thoughts of an afterlife in Hell. I haven't seen a television series since with such a dark look to it.
Hello all you wonderful people! I'm so glad to be here, if only for a few minutes. Souffle, I'm so glad you were able to watch all the eps. I have noticed that the first season is now on Youtube (we'll see how long they last there) and that Videosurf has taken them all down. All the episodes are uploaded though, at Megaupload.com and can be accessed by two sites, again, if anyone needs a link or needs help setting themselves up with a player, just put yahoo.com behind my user name and contact me there - at least, as long as I have a computer.
Souffle, I am ashamed to admit how long it's been since I've been here and you had asked if I noticed the locations were so similar. I have to admit, I didn't notice that at all. I had seen a few street signs that seemed to repeat a couple of times, but that's about it.
NeoT, I am excited beyond words that you will be having a book coming out. I know you mentioned it previously, but I wasn't sure if it was something just in the planning stage or something close to reality yet. I will try to pop in here when I can to keep up on everything.
And also thank you so much for posting all those wonderful pictures. I have to express my appreciation once again for that. And you posted a wonderful tribute to Robert Lansing, who is of course, not Robert Lansing to me, but will always be the enigmatic Control, who cared about his friend McCall and was as aggravating as a nest full of fire ants. I found out you posted that only two days after the anniversary of his death. Of Robert Lansing, I mean. We all know Control and McCall will never die.
By the way, did you guys see the news article about the FBI breaking up that ring of sleeper spies and swapping them for American spies? I am having so much fun sitting here and thinking up ways that could have involved McCall and Company.
OK, am writing a tome here - must go and hopefully I will be back in a couple days.
I am so sorry for all of your troubles. I totally get the difficulties of being unemployed and having to live on the edge. I am glad that your mom is able to help you out for now and I hope that you get back on your feet for now. You have my email, so give me a holler when you can.
I am disappointed that season 2 of The Equalizer is not going to be released in the UK after all. It was supposed to be released at the end of Sept., but for some reason, it was pulled.
Did anyone happen to catch either by air or through live stream David Garland's show on soundtracks for television espionage series on WQXR? It was a great show and showcased music from The Avengers, Mission Impossible, Danger Man, Rubicon, and The Prisoner. Alas, The Equalizer was omitted and I did send off an email about its exclusion. You can check out the webpage about the program at WQXR's website.
Including a 1966 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in
Sandy Dennis already had a highly esteemed and accomplished career.
Even so, we dearly doubt she’d have been the first choice to be cast as Robert McCall’s first wife, Kay, who returns to request her former husband’s help.
Although one’s first impression might’ve been ambivalent at best and highly suspicious at worst,
her astute casting in this role was an unalloyed triumph as she impressively (with superb subtlety) imbues Kay with a poise, stylishly-dressed sophistication and supple inner strength every inch the (um) Equal of her ex. Impeccably directed by Richard Compton with a searing script by Cyrus Nowrasteh, her appearance when she decides to call McCall – at 2:45 in via one of our favorite thrillingly-tense cues by Stewart Copeland. – is very memorable but not quite as unforgettable compared to the truly wrenching sequence outside her apartment where the audience first learns of what happened to the daughter she shared with The Equalizer.
As to that, Mr. Woodward’s anguished conflict during the confrontation is an early highpoint in a series full of such, and Ms. Dennis should’ve at least been accorded an Emmy nomination for her consummate contribution, also.
It’s a shame when viewing retrospective celebrations of certain actors who appeared on the show (Richard Jordan previously, for instance) those compiling such odes consistently overlook the impact they made appearing on this show which is among the most august of their careers.
Much of Season Two showcased Mr. Woodward when he was at his physical best with scripts that finally located the centralized spine of Robert McCall carrying forth what they’d begun the tail end of Season One. The conflicts were more intensified, the characters richly fleshed and the overall balance between anguished ambivalence, belated redemption and emotional foundations became even more muscular, involving and moving.
“Prelude” was the auspicious opener that’s momentous for any number of unforgettable reasons, not least Richard Compton’s commanding direction and Carleton Eastlake’s blistering script that doesn’t so much crucify as concretely dramatizes the skeletons in The Equalizer’s closet are a profound Pandora’s Box whose demons simply will not stay put.
There were two additionally auspicious additions courtesy of this episode, one in front of the camera via Lori Loughlin’s first appearance as Scott’s new girlfriend (which she essayed for a handful of future eps) and composer Bob Christianson
whose trinity of episodes starts with this, where he introduces a favorite theme for our haunted English spy that’s used with even more superlative poignancy in the upcoming “Community of Civilized Men”.
Two of the greatest scenes in the series history are splendidly showcased herein, first McCall’s confrontation with his outraged son (3:55 in) and also when the famous Nunc Pro Tunc (Latin re “Now for Then”) sequence with Control occurs at The Cloisters (10:55 in), which is easily one of the most bruisingly-brilliant scenes between Messrs. Woodward & Lansingever; you see the toll their different paths take on their Friendship and the affection that’s a direct (albeit never terminal) consequence - but not ultimate casualty.
When folks wonder what all the justified acclaim accruing to this show is about – and its extraordinary blend of enlightening Entertainment that also transcended into even rarer Art –
here’s one of the primo examples for pristine appreciation.
First Impressions Can Not Only Accenuate but Equalize One’s Admiration Department:
To our ignoble ignorance, we confess we never heard or seen him before catching this compelling adaptation, but from his first booming appearance we were gloriously gobsmacked and bowled over by his commanding charisma,
sly mischievious humor (totally delightful in his back-and-forth barbed quips and glances interacting with Mr. Scott yet royally ready to authoritatively demonstrate that incredible intensity
just about to make its auspicious unforgettable American debut a year hence.
WHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I'm back (for a while)! Hello NeoT! Hello Souffle!
NeoT, in regards to the fine acting by our Mr. Woodward and Mr. Lansing, double check the video you posted on 10/25 of them in Control's office with Robert Joy. Notice when Control stands up, the couch pillow falls forward. I could be stuck with a million pins before I would admit this was intentional. Yet the scene goes on and when it's time for McCall to sit down on the couch, Control just casually reaches over and puts the pillow back up. As naturally as could be and not a break in the action. You hardly even notice it. That's how two professionals do their job.
I want to address the Nunc Pro Tunc scene between Control and McCall at the Cloisters. While I agree that it was powerful beyond words and it showed how fine the lines are between best friends and antagonists, I think there was another scene that actually upstaged that one. That scene was the very end of Counterfire. In this case, the actors were not just sequentially saying their lines, instead, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Lansing were talking over each other, something I think is very realistic and much, much harder to do and still retain the balance and rhythm, the flow if you will, of a conversation that has to make sense to a TV audience and still convey what is actually going on: McCall not wanting to go to Pakistan, Control persuading (not pushing), and McCall finally capitulating. The underlying emotions couldn't even have been understood - wouldn't even have made sense - if the groundwork for them hadn't been laid before in previous episodes. And of course, there's the camaraderie and respect between the two actors that make it work as well. Try, if you can, to imagine a scene like that between two people just hired to say those same lines for any other TV show.
And I've heard it mentioned before, it's not even the lines themselves, it's what the actors do with the lines. On paper, the lines are forgettable. In the mouths of Mr. Lansing and Mr. Woodward, the words come alive and the magic is there. That last scene in Counterfire is set when McCall asks, "No sun in Bermuda?" and you know before Control even finishes what he's going to say that something more is coming just because of how he answers the question by not answering the question. He puts his own interpretation of acting on those lines, stays in character, and sets the scene for what I think is one of the coolest interplays between himself and McCall. In my humblest opinion, of course.
I bought myself a holiday gift this year. I finally decided to get the UK DVD season 1 of The Equalizer. The only problem is that I put the cart before the horse. My intent is to eventually squirrel away some money and purchase a region free DVD player. This way, not only can I watch The Equalizer, but other European DVDs, which I have wanted for a long time. I know, I guess you can tell that my obsession for this show is growing by buying something I can't even view. However, I have learned the hard way that if you don't get these type of things while available, there may not be another chance. I still keep hoping that the DVD deities make the other seasons available.
Drop us a line at [email@example.com], Souf ... we may just have a tantalizing contact that'll make your request seem as if you've died at gone to the ultimate Equalizer Heaven (that is, at least to our appreciative compedium is finally ready for published perusal).
Plus a most Happy, Healthy, Safe und Harmoniously Equalizing Noo Year to One and All
(yu too, Bruce-o for your thoughtful and wholly unexpected but touching tribute. For making yourself such a lightning rod, ya got guts, pally, we'll give you that! )!
Why doya think we said 'much obliged' to you in the post above before yorn, amigo?
Tell ya what: when "The Equalizer Files" is finally published, you've gotta complimentary copy comin' yer way delivered via McCall's Jag - it kin be sandwiched in between all those 007 ones you already have. Deal?
Thank you for the Welcome Back, NeoT and congrats on being honored!!!!
Now I need to be off the computer in a minute, so will make this very fast. I just saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and I was struck by the relationship of the characters to The Equalizer: Smiley as Robert McCall, Control as Control, Peter as Mickey...anyway, I was wondering if anyone else caught this. John Hurt played Control in this movie, but I remember John Hurt in another role, that of Bob Champion in the movie Champions. And the trainer in Champions, of course, was none other than Edward Woodward. One of those coincidences that mean nothing but are sort of fun to think about. I am a great Dick Francis fan, so watching Champions was fun for me, plus it has some of the best racing action bar none at the very end. Edward Woodward in this movie was icing on the cake. And Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wasn't that bad either. Thumbs up on that one.