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The last of THRILLER's 67 episodes is "The Specialists," a watchable but highly inappropriate finale to an often terrifying series. A tale of terrorists in Canada and the 'specialists' who track them, this was intended to be the pilot for an crime-adventure show that producer Hubbell Robinson couldn't sell so he absorbed the cost by shifting it to THRILLER. This series was canceled after only 2 seasons because Alfred Hitchcock was suitably impressed and made certain the key personnel and writers were picked up for his show, which then expanded to an hour once THRILLER left the prime time airwaves. This final episode features as many as 10 actors who had appeared in previous shows, a lot of familiar faces with unfamiliar names, such as Lin McCarthy (seen in "Rose's Last Summer") and Alan Caillou, who both scripted and acted in episode 20, "Hay Fork and Bill-Hook." David Frankham and Ronald Howard (son of Leslie Howard) were also solid if under-appreciated, and equally effective as hero or villain. At least they cast a native Canadian, lovely Suzanne Lloyd, who did more extensive work in Britain, like THE AVENGERS ("The Murder Market") and the 1965 feature "The Return of Mr. Moto." After BORIS KARLOFF PRESENTS in 1949, COLONEL MARCH OF Scotland YARD in 1954, and THE VEIL in 1958-59 (which never aired at the time), Boris Karloff did one more anthology series in 1962, OUT OF THIS WORLD, before returning to the screen with 1963's "The Raven." Incidentally, the very last performance Karloff ever gave was in the November 30 1968 episode of THE NAME OF THE GAME, "The White Birch," which co-starred Roddy McDowall, Susan St. James, and series regular Gene Barry.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Considering that for most of it's series run 'Thriller' was a horror anthology show, it seemed odd that it would end by featuring an international crime mystery. As much as I could gather from the story, a team of law enforcement specialists was assembled to bring down a global diamond smuggling operation with the action moving from Montreal to London. It played out much like a cat and mouse game beginning with a murder intended to look like a suicide, the victim being the brother of a woman (Suzanne Lloyd) who's in love with the killer (Ronald Howard). It probably sounds a bit more suspenseful than the way it actually turned out. The good guys track their quarry to a London flat, specialist Duncan (Lin McCarthy) makes contact with Helen Coleman (Lyoyd), they narrowly escape a bombing attempt by Howard's character, and that's all she wrote. Somewhat of a letdown if you ask me, with no suspense and a rather bland cast of characters. If I had to stretch to make a recommendation it would be to see Suzanne Lloyd in a bathing suit. You could pause the story right there.
Last episode of the series is, as many have noted, a most inappropriate
finale, since this series was at its best with Gothic horror, which
gave viewers some of the finest hours of horror in television history,
which most certainly doesn't describe this competent but unmemorable
episode about an international team of "specialists" who target jewel
thieves in Canada and the U.S. Cast with previous actors of the series
like Lin McCarthy, Ronald Howard, and Sean McClory, this was in fact an
unsold pilot for a TV series inserted into "Thriller", like when
'Cavender Is Coming' was forced onto "The Twilight Zone".
This now classic series deserved a better send-off...
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