Sunday, 14 February 2010

Classic Telly time - CI5: The Professionals

If the Americans had Starsky & Hutch, then we can have Bodie & Doyle, .ie The Professionals. Spanning 57 episodes, across 5 series and some 6 years, CI5: The Professionals (which had the provisional name 'The A-Squad') debuted in 1977, and was the brainchild of Brian Clements, who created The Avengers for ITV. Starring Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson, The Professionals saw George Cowley (Jackson) head up a new unit that had nothing to do with the police, but was a seperate intelligence agency designed to deal with terrorism on the shores of Britain or the protection of a diplomatic official, or missions that go beyond the police or military. Ray Doyle (Shaw) is an ex-cop, whereas William Bodie (Collins) is an ex-sas operative, brought together by Cowley because of their experience and because sometimes, they need to get the job done 'by any means nesessary'.

Although it only ran for 57 episodes, it didn't go without some controversy. The episode 'Klansman', was banned for a time because of it's storyline was based on racism (although Alf Garnett was racist at every opportunity in Til Death do us Part in the 60's through to the 70's, and again in In Sickness and in Health in the late 80's, although all in comedy form). Also, some people did complain because of its violence, with them having a shoot out or punch up every episode or, for example, one episode shows a policeman being shot, at point blank range, with a shotgun and in another, someone was thrown out the window. Saying that though, Miami Vice in 1984 had loads violence, with one storyline of a drug barron getting rid of the competition, which included Crockett, and another with Tubbs going undercover in a crooked jail. None of those storylines would feel out of place for this series, though, and unfortunately, the only way to see them is in their uncut form which have been remastered, but are worth it.

Some episodes might seem a bit 'stale' nowadays, with a Ford Capri as the chase vehicle (which the stars said handled really badly), chasing an old looking Mercedes, but back then, it was edge of the seat stuff. With the baddies screeching around the corner, firing their Colt.45's or Six Shooters at the Capri that was fiercely chasing them, who had Doyle firing back with his own Colt.45. But, like The Sweeney, it's what make 's a good 70's/80's cop show: loads of chases, loads of fights and some language. But, to me, I grew up with programs like these, and being born in 1982, I got to watch the repeat showings a few years later (mainly in 1988 on Friday nights) and I was enthralled with it. It's what I, and many people, grew up with. Yes, it might seem incredibly dated now (especially with the hairstyles), but it's still one of the best cop shows around.

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