Madman Entertainment/AV Channel .
R4 . B&W . 1176 mins .
PG . PAL
The Saint we all recognise...
This show enjoyed enormous popularity back when it was on the air in 1962. So how does it stack up today, some 42 years later? Well, honestly, not too badly. Sure there are some embarrassing moments of political incorrectness, social standards of the day and just plain simpler plotlines, but overall itís a quite enjoyable show about a very different sort of character.
"Iíve had my head shrunk by the best psychos in the business, thank you!"
Simon Templar is renowned the world over as a rogue, a hero, a ladies man and an adventurer. Independently wealthy, he flits through the highest of social sets seeking adventure and a good rogering, usually finding both within the confines of each episode. International police are suspicious of him as he is a well-known thief (yet never caught) and he travels the world constantly. He charms women, intimidates men and has a social conscience that doesnít just allow him to steal from the rich and keep it for himself. Yes, Simon Templar has a heart, and for this reason (and that his initials are S.T.) he is known as The Saint.
Hangtime for The Saint.
There has been so much attention to detail put into this DVD production, itís easy to see the respect the producers have for both the character and the show itself. Meticulously cleaned and restored, the film no doubt looks better than it ever has and each disc is loaded with extras. Sure, thereís some dross, but there are also some real winners. However, Iíll get to those in due course.
Here we have the first 24 episodes of The Saintís first season which originally aired in 1962/3. I wonít go into the nitty-gritty of each as on the reverse of each of these six discs in the set there is a short paragraph relating the contents of each show.
The Talented Husband
The Latin Touch
The Careful Terrorist
The Covetous Headsman
The Loaded Tourist
The Pearls of Peace
The Arrow of God
The Element of Doubt
The Effete Angler
The Charitable Countess
The Golden Journey
The Romantic Matron
The Man Who Was Lucky
The Invisible Millionaire
The Gentle Ladies
The Ever-Loving Spouse
The Saint Sees It Through
The King of the Beggars
The Benevolent Burglary
The Fellow Traveller
The Bunco Artists
The Work of Art
Roger Moore is really quite excellent in this early role, not to mention the fact he was a bit of a good-looking bloke back then. All episodes come with a direct-to-camera opener from Moore in character as he introduces us to the story itself. This is an interesting part of the original show, acknowledging the camera, but it only occurs in the introduction and occasionally in the ending.
The Saint fights like Xena...
My partner and I really enjoyed getting into this show. Yes, itís outdated, but it speaks to us from a time when things were a little more cut and dried than today. When affections and plots were simpler, yet said as much, and hinting at sex was just as good as seeing the leads roll around nekked. And, actually, often better.
Delivered, of course, in the 1962 format of black and white and 4:3, the picture looks spectacular for television of its age. The levels are even between contrasts and blacks are true to life. Shadow detail is limited, but is about average when it appears. I suppose an advantage here is the show was designed for black and white and allowances have been made accordingly in the original shooting.
There are still film artefacts and scratches, fibres and specks floating about, but these have been removed for the most part and we are left with either irreparable marks or nothing too major. Overall itís actually surprising how darn clean this looks.
The Saint gets down with the Village People...
Well, itís Dolby Digital mono. Thatís all they had back then, and thatís what we got today. However, it is adequate for the purposes here and we didnít have any trouble understanding anything dialogue-wise. Sound effects are a little stock, but thatís to be expected in television of the day and again theyíre mostly alright.
The music gets a little tinny at times, particularly in the horns, but this isnít frequent; perhaps once or twice per disc. We are also provided with music only tracks which were used for international sales Ė the show runs with just these intact so it can be overdubbed in a local lingo. This only occurs on one or two episodes, but Iíll describe that more in the extras section.
His eyesight failing, The Saint chats up a mop.
Well, here we are in the extras section. Thereís a fair old batch to wade through here so Iíll get started. All discs have the same subheadings of Saints and Sinners and Photographic Evidence which contain biographies for cast and crew on each disc's episodes and photo galleries of stills and behind the scenes shots. There is also Umbrella Propaganda which contains trailers for other TV releases.
Biographies: Roger Moore, Shirley Eaton, Derek Farr, Barbara Shelley, Warren Mitchell.
Photo Gallery: 20 pics.
The Saint at the Movies: A 14 page document detailing the various Saint movies of the era (no Val Kilmer/Elisabeth Shue version mentioned).
Audio commentary by Roger Moore and various original producers and crew members. Thereís a moderator keeping the whole thing going as well and this is an interesting listen, but sadly the only commenatry we get.
Umbrella propaganda: The Prisoner and Danger Man.
Biographies: Andrew Sachs, Honor Blackman, David Bauer, Alan Gifford.
Photo Gallery: 13 pics.
Reproduction of original ITC Press Release. This is also presented as a hard copy with the set itself. Itís very interesting how different and yet so similarly this resembles a modern press release. Worthy inclusion.
Music and effects track for episode The Element of Doubt.
Umbrella: Man in a Suitcase and The Baron.
Biographies: Patricia Donahue, Erica Rogers, Roger Delgado, Patrick Troughton, John Carson.
Photo Gallery: 28 pics.
Interview from 1963. This is unrestored and scratched to hell, but is quite funny. It runs for 5:01 with the last 1:07 falling into disastrous disrepair, but containing some very funny outtakes from the interview. God knows where they dug this up from, but itís great.
Umbrella Propaganda: Strange Report and Randall and Hopkirk Deceased.
Biographies: Harry Towb, Nigel Stock, Mark Eden, Anthony Nicholls, Alexis Kanner.
Photo Gallery: 16 pics.
Memorabilia features an original ITC annual story about The Saint and a gallery of 15 original paperback covers. Cool!
Music and effects track for episode The Ever-Loving Spouse.
Umbrella: Department S and Jason King.
Biographies: Oliver Reed, Ronnie Corbett, John Barrie, Dawn Addams, Robert S. Baker.
Photo Gallery: 15 pics.
Textless credits which are practically worthless, frankly.
Umbrella Propaganda: Return of The Saint (featuring some cool '70s animation!) and The Protectors.
Biographies: Samantha Eggar, Justine Lord, John Standing, Julie Christie, Yolande Turner, Johnny Goodman.
Photo Gallery: 44 pics.
Roger Moore filmography spanning 1945 Ė 1962.
Roger Moore 2003 interview regarding his involvement, answering texted questions. Interesting and again, funny. Heís funny, this Roger Moore guy.
Umbrella Propaganda: The Saint Set 2, The Secret Service, Supercar and UFO.
Plus, as if thatís not enough to keep you interested, there are plenty of production notes continuing throughout the six disc cases and a repeated Roger Moore Introduction on each disc. Phew!
After years of reckless living, The Saint lets himself go a bit.
We had a lot of fun watching some of these archaic storylines and ideals, but it wasnít at the showís expense. Rather, it was at the society that seems so simple to us today. The times just seemed easier to live in or something. Anyway, the cars, the fashion and the architecture all contribute to this being a definite historical document of the time. The political incorrectness of the day is also almost charming in its naÔvety. The Saint actually spanks a huffy young lady in her 20s at one point! (This episode was also the highlight for us, itís just hilarious. The Golden Journey, if youíre interested).
With such magnificent treatment and attention to detail this is a must have for fans of The Saint series in any of its guises. It bears little resemblance to the '90s movie of the same name that starred Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue, and gives us a glimpse of how honestly a character can be put onto the screen when the author remains so stolid about his characterís treatment. (The film Saint is pretty different to Roger Moore in this).
Itís overall fabulous fun with plenty of delicate wit and subtle scathing social comment running beneath. I didnít expect much and was happily way wrong here. Great box set, great treatment.