Remember when I used to write posts all the time? I’d like to start again with a theme. If you know me, you might have encountered my ridiculous DVD collection.
In order to give it some purpose, and also as a decluttering exercise, I’m going to share some details about some of my favourites as I begin the challenging and heartrending journey towards shrinking my collection down a bit. Any and all DVDs are on the table for disposal as part of this project, so at the end of each post, they’ll either be granted a reprieve or be unceremoniously Cash Convertered.
To start off with, it’s one of my earliest complete series collections, and one of my favourite TV shows ever. Here are the punchy and exciting opening titles:
Created by Brian Clemens
Directed by various (notably, Martin Campbell did some of his early work here, and would go on to direct two Bond films amongst other things)
Music by Laurie Johnson, various library tracks (including this one, which has also featured in SpongeBob)
Starring Gordon Jackson, Lewis Collins, Martin Shaw
Episodes: 57 50-minute episodes
Completely watched: NO
Premise: headed by the tough, no-nonsense Major George Cowley (Gordon Jackson), CI5 is a British government department that deals with “special cases”, protecting Britain from threats within and without by whatever means necessary. Cowley’s best team is William Bodie (Lewis Collins) and Ray Doyle (Martin Shaw). Together, the three smash drug cartels, terrorist rings, and corrupt politicians alike, all while wearing flares and leather jackets to a funky 70s beat.
How did I discover it: Up late watching TV with the family in 2010
Worth watching just for the chemistry between the three leads – much of the dialogue is hilarious and they deliver it beautifully. Collins excels as Bodie, the hard ex-army/mercenary man, whereas Shaw is more sensitive as a former cop who believes strongly in justice. As the series progresses the plots get more exciting and the stunts get more preposterous (for example, a mobile crane being used to make a forced entry into an upper floor apartment at one point). One of the high points is that Collins and Shaw did a lot of their own stunts, including some of the stunt driving in their iconic Ford Capris.
As with any show from this era, some of the plots are going to be too outlandish to have been possible at that time, or simplified too much to fit into an hour TV spot. But others are standouts of the genre, with the corruption-themed “Everest Was Also Conquered” a real highlight.
The theme and soundtrack were written by ITV stalwart Laurie Johnson, also responsible for “The Avengers” amongst others. He nails the funk of so many genre shows of that period and it ties in well with the visuals.
Broadly, it’s a show that values integrity, honesty, and justice – wholesome stuff in this ghastly 21st century of ours. This is definitely a favourite show of mine; one of my lower-order goals for 2020 is to finally watch it all the way through!
Things to look out for: casual sexism, and racism – mostly the former, which goes with the territory of the period. There’s the odd episodes which try to tackle white supremacists but do it hamfistedly. Fortunately the white supremacists are always the villains, and always thoroughly nasty. At least the writers were trying. Also look out for the sequel series from 1999, CI5: The New Professionals, the mere existence of which is apparently more offensive than anything in the original series.
I bought this box set online more or less the day I turned 18 and was eligible for a VisaDebit card, having known I’d be hooked on the show after seeing one episode. Annoyingly, the episodes are in a strange order and grouped into 4 seasons rather than 5. The prints are the same versions which had been available since the 1990s for broadcast and sale; the archived stock was in terrible nick which shows on the DVDs. It’s since been released on BluRay through Network, who did a phenomenal restoration job in 2013, but I’ve stuck with mine because blimey, Network’s stuff can be expensive (but worth it; I’ve bought a few of their other releases on sale).
As An Aside: was Gordon Jackson ever young? I swear he looked the same in 1963 in The Great Escape, then here, and then again in Noble House in 1988 (read my review of that here)!
THE VERDICT: (Is it granted a reprieve, or does it have to go?)
Only because I love the show, and would rather be able to finish watching it than not, even in the poor quality in which it is here presented, I grant The Professionals: The Complete Series a:
See you next time!