Single mother with a teenage daughter, leaves her secret job as a top CIA field agent and finds a new calling in helping those that have no where else to go.
The Equalizer staring Queen Latifah is a reboot of a 1985 series which starred British actor, Edward Woodward. The premise of both shows (and the 2014 / 2018 movies which I will not be referring to in this article) is the same, Ex intelligence operative, with a mysterious past, helps those who the law cannot help. Aided by a slew of former colleagues and friends they use their super spy powers to level out the odds stacked against the average person who finds themselves in dire straits.
The new series updates the title character from Robert to Robyn and makes her a single mother of a teenage daughter. Her family believes that she just quit her job as the head of a charity organization that had her traveling all over the world, when, she has just walked away from her life as a secret operative for the CIA. The hint of a mission gone bad due to government bureaucracy is what spurs her decision to leave. Not knowing what she wants to do with her life, she finds a new “mission” after helping a young girl who is in a desperate situation. Aided by her friends Melody and Harry (Liza Lapira and Adam Goldberg) with her former mentor, William Bishop (Chris Noth) who now runs a private security company, Robyn decides her calling is to help those who cannot go to the law for help. Mixing in a bit of family drama, as Robyn’s teenage daughter Delilah (Laya DeLeon) gets into the normal trouble and her mother, who has mostly been absent in her life, now tries to figure out how to be a normal mother.
I was concerned that updating the series to the modern age might not work. Changing the title character from an old white man to a single black mother is a bold change, but actually works quite well in todays social climate. In the 80s, a large television demographic was the older middle class, so we got shows like The Golden Girls, Murder, She Wrote, and The Equalizer, but today the public needs and wants to see more diverse casting. The original actor, Edward Woodward, was an imposing figure and a commanding voice. No one would second guess that this man could do some damage. Robert McCall was a strong mysterious man. The update takes a bit of the mystery away and makes Robyn a bit more relatable. We see her as a real person, who just happens to be able to kick ass! She is less imposing, which gives her the edge or surprise. Also not falling into stereotypes is the NYPD detective Marcus Dante (Tory Kittles) who trusts his instincts and doesn’t leap to the expected conclusions even when all the clues point in a certain direction.
The show is plain good fun. The series is well cast and well performed. Queen Latifah adds a tender humanness to what could have been a stereotypical character, Liza Lapira as the sure shot sniper, Melody, is sort of cute and bubbly for someone that is so deadly, and her genius hacker husband, Harry, played by Adam Goldberg adds a bit of sarcastic humor. Chris Noth is the perfect mentor as William Bishop. Tory Kittles is also very good and I get the feeling they are possibly setting him up as a potential love interest to Robyn.
The production value is good, with a nice balance of action and drama with a fair amount of humor and tenderness. It doesn’t have the dark tones that the original series has, but definitely calls out and identifies social issues currently happening in this country. The only real problem I had with the pilot was the script. The story flowed well, but I found some of the dialogue clunky and cumbersome, possibly trying to cram too much exposition into the pilot instead of letting things be discovered in later episodes (A common problem I think many pilots have). I did enjoy the scene at the prison yard between Robyn and Delilah, touching with a good message.
Note: This episode was dedicated to co-creator/executive producer Richard Lindheim, who died from heart failure while the series was in production. Lindheim was co-creator on both the original series and this new series.
Overall the pilot was a lot of fun. Watching Queen Latifah’s Robyn McCall kick ass and take names was very entertaining. With a great supporting cast and good production values it will be interesting to see where they take these characters.
The Equalizer = Queen of the Downtrodden
Writing - 8/10
Storyline - 9/10
Acting - 10/10
Music - 9/10
Production - 10/10
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