Friday, December 23, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: The Equalizer Edition

My post last Sunday singing the praises of CBS' urban vigilante series Person of Interest got me thinking of another very-similar skein that aired on CBS and enjoyed a decent amount of popularity during its mid-to-late '80s run, but has been mostly forgotten today. The Equalizer starred late British thesp Edward Woodward in the role of Robert McCall, a former intelligence operative (at some nameless agency) who grows disgruntled with the life of a spy and, seeking to make amends for his shadowed past, heads to New York, where he offers his particular skill set (think: Liam Neeson in Taken) to anyone in trouble who needs balance restored to their lives (i.e. "equalized").

Running 1985-'89 and lasting for 88 episodes, The Equalizer arrived at a point in TV history when we really started to see the transition away from more wholesome programs the entire family could conceivably watch (Starsky & Hutch, CHiPs) into series that pushed the boundaries, both in terms of style and content, of what the medium could get away with. In a sense, this is a show, like Miami Vice and Wise Guy and other trailblazers of the era, that forged the path utilized by many of today's dramas, but which has itself been left by the wayside by all but the most pugnacious of '80s devotees (further marking it as an artifact of its time, McCall's son was played by none other than the the decade's go-to bully: William Zabka).

One of the most memorable elements of The Equalizer's mystique was (and, based on the number of YouTube captures out there, remains) the opening title sequence, with a trendy synth score by The Police's Stewart Copeland. In a hellish image of New York City ripped from our collective nightmares, robbers, murderers and rapists besiege the town's desperate denizens until the titular hero makes his presence known, awash in shadow and light. However quaint and even, yep, cheesy, it might seem in today's age of The Wire or even CSI, The Equalizer intro nonetheless remains a terrific time capsule of when television began to take full advantage of the dialectical dance between music and editing:

The first season of The Equalizer hit DVD a few years ago in early '08 but sadly, proving out my earlier point about how far back into our collective memory it's receded despite its boundary-pushing reputation at the time, the sales simply weren't there to justify further releases. Still, there have been rumblings of a new, rebooted feature version of the show, with Russell Crowe mentioned as a possible movie McCall, and word coming last week that Denzel Washington is being eyed for what would clearly be a very different take on the character. Regardless, if the pub from a possible movie ends up allowing the rest of the series to hit platters, that's one injustice we can say has been equalized.

1 comment:

Imran said...

I love your nostalgia Theater these shows are mostly from Saudi. So that is why it makes it so fun to read. I must say it is my guilty pleasure, to wait for your nostalgia theatre posts. Did you already do one for Sky Captain?