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The Equalizer (1985–1989)

TV Series  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,856 users  
Reviews: 48 user | 4 critic

A retired intelligence agent turned private detective helps various threatened clients to equalize the odds.

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4   3   2   1  
1989   1988   1987   1986   1985  
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
 Robert McCall (88 episodes, 1985-1989)
 Mickey Kostmayer (56 episodes, 1985-1989)


Robert McCall is "The Equalizer", a private detective with a lot of contacts who is available for hire if you have a problem that you don't know how to solve. His no-nonsense attitude, compassion, and experience with dealing with a wide variety of situations makes him a powerful and useful detective. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

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Release Date:

18 September 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Equalizer  »

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Did You Know?


Edward Woodward suffered a heart attack in the summer of 1987. Accordingly, the producers needed to find a quick replacement while Woodward recuperated. Robert Mitchum was brought on as an old friend of Robert McCall who helped McCall's son search for his missing father in the two-part episode, "Mission: McCall." Richard Jordan was also brought on as embittered former operative Harley Gage and stayed for eight more episodes. See more »


Robert McCall: You have five seconds to give me the name.
Robert McCall: Time's up, throw him out of the window!
See more »


Referenced in St. Elsewhere: The Equalizer (1986) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A View to a Cold War Relic
25 April 2004 | by (Gary, Indiana) – See all my reviews

I have seen all the episodes at least 3 times; first on CBS, then USA, and then on A&E. Now it is on Hallmark.

Like other reviewers, I found the show refreshing and unique. I thought the choice of Edward Woodward was curious (a Brit for a Yank?)But I was willing to let it slide through.

Robert Lansing's portrayal as a District or Station Chief was well cast. Like most American TV series, it takes a season or two to become really good. The show had good writing, good actors and actresses, and good cinematography. I think that it was one of the best series produced.

The Robert McCall character had the potential of becoming a cardboard character. Woodward's acting skills prevented that, thank God. I found the premise of a disillusioned CIA Case Officer to be believable. The look-and-feel of McCall reminded me of the legendary William King Harvey of Indianapolis. It is uncanny.

I found the story line of internal CIA `political' struggles to be realistic. Remember, this was just after the infamous Senator Frank Church Commission which effectively gutted the CIA. We built the CIA to prevent any more Pearl Harbors. Then through internal political dissention (and ideology sympathy) we made it a Hollow, blind Man. Many veteran Case Officers were `forced out' at that time.

In the Army I made the acquaintance of some Mickey Kostmayer types. I liked the acting of Keith Szarabajka. His naturalness made the character believable according to the real people that I met.

After Woodward's heart attack, I thought that the inclusion of Richard Jordan was well cast. I was sorry to see his character fade out. He was just starting to come into his own.

The technical aspects were, at the time, quite startling. The `Trade Craft' was superb. I never did learn if the writers had access to old Case Officers or not. There is one scene where McCall tracks down someone using recorded voices from the telephone system. The NSA must have had fits over that one.

I have several favorite episodes, but one of two that stands out in my mind is where McCall is trying to teach street punks about what death is all about. He takes them to a morgue to see a stiff. While there, he introduces them to an old colleague who tells them about Hell. It was quite chilling, but very accurate.

The other episode is where he is trapped in a wedding reception as a hostage. The techniques and tactics that McCall used were very real. It should be required viewing for future operatives. Like other reviewers, I was sorry to see it cancelled. I felt that it had a few more seasons left.

One of the other reviewers mentions that the Equalizer replacement was Wiseguy. Interesting that, like the Equalizer, Wiseguy was modeled after a real person (Donnie Brasko) and a real situation. Yes, very interesting.

42 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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