Until the mid-1980s debut of The Equalizer's hero, Robert McCall — a Cold War vet disillusioned by the soul-killing nature of spy work who finds redemption in taking up the cause of average-folk clients who might need a bodyguard, avenger or dedicated sleuth — television was not a welcome ground for antiheroes so recklessly committed to operating outside the regular law-enforcement system. (Even when you got to the iconic shadows-to-light reveal of McCall while Stewart Copeland's drum score crescendoed in the opening title montage of urban citizens in menaced situations, you weren't entirely sure this psychotically serious dude was supposed to be the good guy.) All of this made The Equalizer a de liriously entertaining reactionary suspense series, with Edward Woodward as the trench-coated ex-spook who was more of a Continental-accented Dirty Harry for helpless types denied justice. Now The Equalizer is back — Season 1 hit the stores last week on DVD. Watching the show over again, I rediscovered the combined thrill of the show's appealingly gritty danger-streets vibe and cheesy good fun in the impossibly high takedown rate for a middle-aged, mildly pudgy loner with a handgun. Woodward may not have been the most convincing brawl artist, but his aura of covert-op/former-mercenary authority felt unquestionable, and his pinched, brow-fortified stare still looks more lethal than any raspy threat Kiefer Sutherland barks on 24. And so when I say I like Burn Notice, USA Network's hit show about a benched spy turned private problem solver, I guess I'm saying I'm glad The Equalizer has returned.
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