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On September 18, 1985, CBS introduced us to Edward Woodward as the most dangerous man ever: Robert McCall. Created by Michael Sloan, The Equalizer is a modern Have Gun – Will Travel with Woodward as McCall, a former agent who left the dirty business nicknamed “The Company” to set up his own business as an avenging angel for the helpless: the last call for people who have nowhere to turn to for help. He may be called “a hired gun” and/or a “vigilante”, but McCall is a crusader: a knight in shining armor on a mission to not only balance the scales of justice, but he’s on a personal mission of redemption for his past sins.
“The Equalizer” was first coined in the spring of 1957 as an episode of ABC’s The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O’Brian as the legendary lawman. The episode follows a character named Guns McCallum (Elisha Cook), a gunsmith who refused to let anyone pick on him because he’s short, but his short temper always gets him in trouble – especially with gunfighter Johnny Ringo. Wyatt must step in to help Guns and keep him out of danger, and that includes bringing in Guns’ wife, who tells him to never stop fighting not for himself, but for people can’t fight back.
And that is what The Equalizer stands for: a champion for those who can’t stand up to the bullies.
The Equalizer earned Woodward several Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award. Lasting four seasons, the series led the way for shows such as USA Network’s Burn Notice (2007-13) and CBS’ Person of Interest (2011-16). However, there were valiant attempts like Law & Order creator Dick Wolf’s short-lived 1996 series Swift Justice about a renegade ex-cop working outside the system on cases the police can’t handle, and Hack (2002-04) about a disgraced ex-cop turned taxi driver finding redemption in helping others and righting their wrongs.
In 2014, Denzel Washington was literally a man on fire in bringing The Equalizer on the big screen as McCall, who takes on Russian mobsters and corrupt cops on behalf of a young prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz). The movie’s success spawned last summer’s The Equalizer 2, where McCall – aka Batman without the mask and cape – rise to seek justice for the death of his close friend Susan (Melissa Leo, who guest-starred on the original series in the third episode entitled “The Defector”).
If you can’t get enough of The Equalizer, then check out the books written by Sloan. You can order The Equalizer and the follow-up Killed in Action on Amazon.com; the third one, entitled Requiem, is already in progress.