The Equalizer (1985–1989)
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Disillusioned by his years as a spy, Robert McCall resigns from his job, determined to help people in need. His first two clients are a telecommunications employee who stumbles onto an extortion ring, and a woman threatened by a stalker.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Carlene Randall
Michael Levin ...
Leonard Morgan
Senator Jim Blanding
Jack Davidson ...
Brad Hamilton
Ron Parady ...
Scott Burkholder ...
Derek Murcott ...
Paul Jabara ...
Orchestra Music Teacher
Carrie Kei Heim ...


We are introduced to someone who calls himself The Equalizer who takes on 2 new clients in this pilot episode. The first is a man working for a Telecommucation company who discovers some unexplained records in the company files - McCall discovers that the VP of the Telecomm company is recording high-level officials' phone conversations to use for blackmail. The second is a single mother who is being stalked - McCall tries to scare off the stalker but only succeeds in making him more violent towards his victim. Written by ignazia

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis






Release Date:

18 September 1985 (USA)  »

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Production Co:

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the car chase, the left headlight and front left fender change from undamaged to seriously damaged for no reason. See more »


Control: If I need you...
Robert McCall: Well you've always known where to find me.
See more »

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User Reviews

Who Ya Gonna Call?
17 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Tough guy secret agent Robert McCall (Edward Woodward) has seen it all in his time. A lot of it is of the dark side of a world filled with varieties of evil few of us know about or can even imagine. He has come to be frustrated with trying to make a difference where he can't and sees suspect motives in those he works with.

He is angry, a little crazy over it and abruptly quits working for the secret government agency which employed him. He takes some time to cool off and take stock of what is important zeroing in on two things - his son Scott (William Zabka), nearly grown who he was seldom there for as well as his own guilty conscience over his morally ambiguous work in dodgy situations.

Having had a mixed reaction in reuniting with Scott but nevertheless emerging from it some what satisfied, McCall begins to nurse his other wound placing an ad (Something so cryptic it could be promoting anything from a moving company to a tax lawyer) in the classifieds section of the local newspaper.

He isn't looking for a romantic interlude with a lonely soul. If you happen to be a criminal thug preying on the weak and they phone up McCall for help that's when you have a date with the Equalizer, and it is the night you'll wish you were never born! By this time audiences had watched James Bond move on into his mid-fifties. A retirement package was never discussed though if you watched The Prisoner you know spies can't just clean out their desks. But here we see one who tries to slow it down a bit as he gets older, keeping busy with smaller, more personal assignments like protecting a single mom (Patricia Kalember) and her daughter from a stalker or shielding a whistle-blower from his shady bosses. It beats playing chess with his dog.

McCall thinks of himself as "An old war-horse let out to pasture" but his old boss (Robert Lansing) refers to him as "the most dangerous man I have ever known". The great thing about Edward Woodward was that he could play characters with warmth and a sense of threat, which this role called for. Here you get more of the charming menace that came with the predatory look in his eyes reminiscent of a snow leopard about to pounce.

The Equalizer is a Champagne version of the Dirty Harry/Death Wish formula compressed into the limited and sanitized framework of Network series TV. It works on more levels than it doesn't particularly in the earlier episodes like this pilot.

The implausibilities don't lie in the character. Governments have been training dangerous covert operatives, superhuman in some ways but less than human in others, for centuries. Some of the best of them get old before they get dead. The implausibilities don't lie in the setting either. New York City, like much of urban North America, was plagued with crime of every kind up until the early 1990's.

The implausibilities lie in the New York cops simply shrugging as philanthropic vigilante McCall leaves a trail of bodies from whatever shooting gallery he has involved himself in each week particularly since he has often enlisted their help. There is also this ad in the paper which people are somehow supposed to decipher. Episodes with our hero brought in via discreet referrals are more believable.

Then we have this ability of McCall's to get himself across town so quickly just when he is needed. Ever try driving through New York City to get somewhere fast? I myself have not but I imagine it must be a snap going by what is shown here. Still, it is all a lot more realistic than other things on TV before it and since.

The Stewart Copeland theme music for this production was perfect for the opening montage that went with it. It communicates the dark but benevolent nature of the hero perfectly and is a hell of a composition by itself.

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