The Professionals made its TV debut in 1977 and was an instant smash hit but ran into some controversy because of some of the violence.
Bodie (Lewis Collins) and Doyle (Martin Shaw) are two no holds barred agents of CI5, an elite force who are above the police and work outside their rules. Headed by George Cowley (Gordon Jackson), they attempt to stop terrorists and high-profile murderers by any means possible.
You can see why the show was a hit, it was no-nonsense fast-moving action, mostly well acted with good chemistry between the three leads. The main actors settle into the characters nicely, keeping a slight friction between Bodie and Doyle, which was mirrored by the actors themselves who appear at to not get along. In fact Martin Shaw asked to leave the series after filming half a dozen episodes stating it wasn’t working, but he was told no, he had a contract and had to stay.
Watching the series today it has its moments of blatant sexism and a little racism but as stated by Creator Brian Clemens (who also wrote many of the episodes, and had co-created the ’60s hit The Avengers) the series was a product of its time. One of the episodes The Klansman was pulled from original broadcast because it was thought too controversial. Gordon Jackson is excellent as Cowley, a boss you would not want to mess with and who doesn’t mince his words. This was a shock for viewers at the time because he was best known for playing the butler in Upstairs Downstairs.
Network’s restoration of the original negatives (made possible because ’70s drama shows were shot on 16mm film in the 70’s) is superb, if you have ever caught repeats of the series on TV its always looked tired and washed out but here its almost like watching a new show with fantastic detail that has been absent from previous versions.
The box-set of season 1 contains all the episodes uncut and remastered with two sound options a newly done 5.1 mix and the original mono, both sound clear and crisp. All episodes feature original Assault Course titles (and Cowley narration on the first three episodes) and are presented in their original production order.
A great bonus is also the inclusion of a music-only track. Other extras are Without Walls: a good 1996 Channel 4 documentary on The Professionals with the cast and crew talking candidly about the series. Also, you can watch the opening and ending sequences without titles and finally a HD image gallery including shots of Anthony Andrews who was originally cast as Bodie.
So if you’re a fan of the series or action TV in general, I cannot recommend this release by Network of The Professionals enough, brilliantly remastered with good extras, I can’t wait for season 2.
SERIES: 8 PICTURE: 9 SOUND: 7 EXTRAS: 7