For this blog’s last sample look at a show from ITC, I selected, of course, The Persuaders!, which is often agreeably silly and dopey, but is nevertheless one of the most downright fun television series ever made. I gave our son atypically high expectations about this one, and it met them. He laughed all the way through this. The leads’ hilarious rivalry and undercutting kept him giggling, and the fights left him roaring. One brawl sees Danny and Brett destroying a hotel restaurant. The following evening, having settled their differences, they are ordered off their case by four hoods. The restaurant is destroyed again. The kid was in heaven, even if the set dressers in 1970 weren’t.
The Persuaders! teamed Tony Curtis, who our kid fondly remembers from the hilarious Great Race, with Roger Moore, who our kid mostly enjoyed in The Saint, as nitro and glycerine. Forced to work together by a judge, unofficially of course, these hard-drinking, womanizing, good-natured playboys finally use their intuition, cunning, resourcefulness, and fisticuffs to solve all kinds of crimes around the south of France and Italy and the UK.
And it is fun. Super fun. This may be either a close second or tied with Randall and Hopkirk as my favorite of all the ITC series, because while it’s full of good guest actors and it has the requisite scripts by all the best names in British TV from the day, including a pilot by Brian Clemens, Curtis and Moore are simply hilarious together. At one point, Danny Wilde pulls the “heads I win, tails you lose” bit against Lord Sinclair, walks away a winner, and the beat before our son got it was almost as funny as when he exploded laughing. Then Roger Moore does a double-take, because it took Brett a beat longer than the kid. Priceless.
Anyway, “Overture” sets the stage and introduces Laurence Naismith as Judge Fulton, who pulls strings in about half of the episodes to make sure Danny and Brett keep working together. Alex Scott and Imogen Hassall also appear. It’s a terrific hour. Most TV shows don’t have a pilot anywhere near as rewatchable as this series. I picked six for us to sample, but I’m pretty sure that the kid will ask us to rotate the other eighteen in to family TV nights in the new year.
A note on copies: In Region 1, The Persuaders! is available for purchase on Amazon Prime, but I don’t think it’s presently streaming anywhere. I got the R1 DVD set from VEI about five years ago. It’s still available very cheaply, but insanely it’s presently actually available for even less if you get VEI’s set that bundles it with The Protectors. However, I had a little less cash on hand five years ago, and the smart purchase is Network’s Blu-ray set, fully restored and with lots of extras. It’s said to be Region B-locked, but I can’t confirm that. Might upgrade sooner rather than later.