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The Protectors were Harry Rule, the Contessa di Contini and Paul Buchet, three freelance troubleshooters who ran an international crime fighting agency. Based in London, Harry was the leader of the group. The Contessa lived in Italy and, when she wasn't working with Harry, ran her own detective agency that specialized in exposing art frauds and recovering stolen art. Paul Buchet worked out of Paris, and was the group's researcher and gadget specialist. Their adventures ranged from simple kidnapping to convoluted cases of international intrigue. Since the episodes were only half-an-hour long, the show's forte was fast paced but straightforward action. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Different to most of the competing cops and capers shows around at the time, "The Protectors", a rare Gerry Anderson project not involving puppets or science fiction, had episodes only clocking in at 25 minutes or so and thus, as I remember it, failed to secure a real prime-time TV slot on original release in 1972. However this gave it the benefit of appealing to casual viewers who didn't have an hour to spare to watch say, "The Persuaders" or "Mission Impossible" to name but two.
Yet there's something to be said for the brevity of the individual programmes as there's less padding and more directness in the story lines and there's little time to be bored. Yes, most of the shows I've seen seem to rewrite the same four or five plot-lines, and seem to invariably include some foreign intrigue, overseas locations, a kidnapping, a daring rescue, a punch-up and some cliff-hanging finish before the end credits roll and that great theme tune, bellowed out by Tony Christie.
Obviously over so many shows there is some variation in the quality of the writing but the direction, probably of necessity, is uniformly brisk and to the point. The casting of the leads is very pleasing, I loved Robert Vaughn in "Man Fom U.N.C.L.E." and while he's not the lean mean (lady)-killing machine he was back in the 60's, as team leader Harry Rule, he commits well to his part and rarely looks bored. Nyree-Dawn Porter is still the beautiful English rose she was in "The Forsyte Saga", certainly not faded and is surprisingly adept in her role as the stylish and resourceful Contessa Di Contini, while Tony Anholt does well enough as third wheel Paul Buchet, suave Frenchman, although his accent occasionally crosses back over the Channel.
I'm working my way through an old DVD box-set I bought ages ago and am quite enjoying the task. My teenage heart at the time was in thrall to the more escapist shows of the era like "The Champions", "Department S" or "Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)", but I'm happy to commit 25 minutes of my time to Harry and the Contessa, any day of the week.
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