Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Modern Classic: The Equalizer (1985)

"One man can make a difference"---Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart), 1982, Knight Rider.

Three years later, another Universal series used that same logic, and rode it for four seasons.

The Equalizer anchored CBS' Wednesday lineup from 1985-9. It starred British actor Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a former intelligence agent who now came to the aid of innocents in time of need. Perhaps the biggest selling point to the series wasn't the plot, but rather, the music. Police co-founder and drummer Stewart Copeland, who made his acting debut on the series, composed the stirring score, which led to a solo record, "The Equalizer and Other Cliffhangers" (italics mine).

Woodward was sidelined with a heart attack somewhere between seasons 2 & 3, which led to the producers having to find substitutes who would cover for McCall while he was in absentia.

With the series turning 30 next year, there's a brand new feature film reboot coming soon, but this time, McCall will be an American. An African-American, that is, played by Oscar winner Denzel Washington, who's admitted he's never seen the original series, which might be because he used to be on St. Elsewhere, which aired opposite Equalizer during its run. Yep, Universal's done it again, but this time for a movie.

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana.

Universal's recent history with race-changing in casting has not been good, as the quick hooks given to 21st century reboots of Kojak and Ironside would attest. Plus, a proposed urbanized reboot of Murder, She Wrote was rejected by NBC.

That's Classic uploaded the open to The Equalizer:

The feature film version, depending on how audiences look at it, could break the stigma. At least, that's what Universal is hoping for. After all, when was the last time Denzel Washington made a box office dud?

Rating: B.


magicdog said...


I promise you, this one will fall - hard!

I used to love this show - though I admit you're correct in stating it was more about having a member of The Police writing the music for it. It was huge news at the time. However I do think Woodward was a good fit for the role (he reminds me of Michael Caine for some reason) and it's a shame he's no longer with us.

I do have an Equalizer story to tell:

My dad worked for the NYDOC at that time. His office was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It wasn't unusual to use the area for filming of many NY based TV shows, films or music videos. My dad and his crew heard shots coming from downstairs and thought something bad was going down. They race down in riot gear to the scene of the gunshots when someone yelled, "Cut!"

Turns out an episode of The Equalizer was shooting that day! Apparently despite getting the OK to film from HQ, someone forgot to tell my dad's crew! Thankfully, all was well after that. Dad even shook hands with Woodward!

BTW - the last duds Denzel made were "The Great Debaters" (although critically acclaimed, it was a flop at the box office) and the remake of "The Taking of "Pelham 123" which pales compared to the original - and was a flop at the box office.

Soon, The Equalizer remake will be added to it.

hobbyfan said...

"Racelifts" have been in the movies in recent years (i.e. Honeymooners, About Last Night), and it seems the boneheads are more concerned with finding the hot names to fill the casts, regardless of race.

Didn't see either Great Debaters or Pelham, but I'll see about the DVD's.