The Equalizer, season 1

client: "Who are you?"
McCall: "A friend."
client: "What do you do, friend?"
McCall: "Whatever needs to be done."

release year: 1985
genre: action/drama TV show
viewing setting: home DVD 4/12-26/20

synopsis: A retired operative with a mysterious past helps people in need in New York City.

impressions: I'd vaguely known about this series from my teenage years, but never took the time to explore it, until now. I have the complete series, four seasons, of which this is the first. McCall is an older guy, obviously not a physically superior action-hero type, but he's still dangerous and gets the job done. This is mostly due to his planning skills and vast network of contacts and allies whom he frequently calls upon, but is sometimes also due to his nerves of steel and his solid brass balls; he's always ready to shoot when the need arises, and doesn't often miss. Most of the people who ask him for help actually need it, although a few really don't. And more than one are just stupid, either not listening to what he tells them to do, or trying to get him to solve their problem without violence (the latter really burns me.) The best season 1 episodes, in my opinion, were 1 (the pilot, which establishes the background and framework for the series), 2 (a kid's abduction by Chinese gangsters), 7 (assault on vacation cabin), 9 (helping a kid who's fallen into drug dealing), 15 (McCall assembles a team), 19 (hostage situation with terrorists.)

acting: Edward Woodward is the lynchpin of this series; older but still imposing, knowledgable about all sorts of things, and dead serious. I am fully aware that future seasons will flesh out his background, and I'm looking forward to that. Keith Szarabajka is a quiet, unassuming, but quite dangerous ally. Mark Margolis is an older friend whose specialty is surveillance. Robert Lansing is McCall's old boss, who sometimes helps him and vice versa. William Zabka is McCall's estranged son who McCall wants to get to know better. Saul Rubinek is an overconfident, smartass member of McCall's former organization, who doesn't like him. The helpful-and-also-helped cop role was a revolving door in season one: Steven Williams (5 episodes) gave way to Fred Williamson (2 episodes) and then Ron O'Neal (7 episodes.) Of those three, Williamson was by far the coolest, smacking around a gang leader in front of his gang in episode 12. Other notable guest stars from season one included: Jerry Stiller, Al Leong, Melissa Leo, Robert Joy, Adam Ant, Lori Petty, Luis Guzman, Will Patton, Esai Morales, Reginald VelJohnson, Joseph Wiseman, Burt Young, Dana Barron, Ed O'Neill, Lori Cardille, Bob Gunton, Alex Winter, Meat Loaf, Charles Dutton, Blanche Baker, Charles Hallahan, Brad Dourif, James Gammon, Robert Davi, Joe Spinell, Kim Delaney, Patricia Clarkson, Tony Shalhoub, Richard Hamilton, Laurie Metcalf, and Dan Hedaya.

final word: Cool 1980s-era action/drama.

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