ROBERT MCCALL

 
Full Name: Robert McCall
Series Name: The Equalizer
Nationality: American
Organization: The Agency
Occupation Agent

Creator: Michael Sloan , Richard Lindheim
Time Span: 1985 - 2014
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Robert McCall is a former agent with the Company.
       The exact identity of this intelligence bureau, also referred to as the Agency, is never specified but there is sufficient evidence pointing towards the CIA, if unspoken. McCall was an agent for many, many years and based on the contacts he has, he has made a big name for himself. Those he made his home in New York City, having a very nice apartment there as well as an ex-wife and a grown musician son, he was a man of the world and saw action in every part of the planet. His knowledge of languages and traditions is impressive.
       At the time of the first recorded adventure, McCall is in his late 50's or very early 60's. He is growing extremely tired of the duplicity and the underhanded ways the cloak and dagger game is played and would very much like out. A particularly brutal event in a NY subway in which he promises a desparate man holding a hostage that if the man let the hostage go, all would be fine. The hostage is released and another agent shoots and wounds the man. To keep the wounded and still dangerous man from harming anyone, McCall must kill him. That is the final straw.
       McCall turns in his papers and retires. Unfortunately, no one retires from this Agency and his New York boss, known only as Control, lets him know how scared his bosses are. Too much information is in his head, Control warns, to be let free. It was almost certain a hit squad would be dispatched to take him out. "Let them come" was McCall's response. Before too much time has passed, Control lets McCall know he worked out a deal with the upper echelon - let McCall live and maybe he would be there for a favor now and then.

       It was not just to get out that McCall retired, though. Not hurting for money, and feeling a need for penance, he began a small one-man crusade to help the underdog get out from under. His reasoning is quite clear to himself - he has done enough bad things on behalf of his "employers" to last several lifetimes and he wants to even things out a bit. This reasoning is not so understandable to some who knew him in the old days. Control, for all his protests against his friend's actions, is one of the few who does comprehend.

       "Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer" is the advertisement in the newspaper. It gives a phone number in Manhattan where help can be reached, although McCall has obviously learned to never answer the phone directly but let the machine get it and play back messages later. If McCall decides that the caller is legitimate and not, as often is the case, someone looking for a hand out or an acquaintance rubbed out, he will contact the person and schedule a meet in a safe location. Once he takes the case, though, regrets are in store for those he rules deserving of it.
       Since McCall is no stranger to the City and many of his former associates, and not a few opponents, live there, he thinks nothing of routinely calling upon them for assistance. Many are less than happy about the calling but some, like his protege and young friend, Mickey Kostmayer, delights in working again with his old mentor and gladly drops whatever he is doing when summoned. Since that is sometimes something Control had him doing, friction can be high between McCall and Control. Nevertheless, the old friendship between McCall and Control goes back a long way and despite his irritations, Control has come to McCall's help himself more than once.

BOOKS

Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1987
Last Appearance:2014

       The three books in the series that were published were novelizations of several of the episodes. They were published in Britain first. It is unknown if they were ever released in the States.

       In 2014, the series got a reboot with a movie release and a book by Michael Sloan, one of the creators of the original series.

1 The Equalizer The Equalizer
Written by David Deutsch
Copyright: 1987

Novelizations of two episodes from Season 1: Pilot: The Equalizer by co-creator, Michael Sloan, in which a woman is being stalked and a security expert is endangered by his own bosses, and The Children's Song by Howard Chesley, Joel Surnow, and Maurice Hurley which has McCall trying to protect the only witness for a murder by a group of rapists.

2 The Equalizer: To Even The Odds The Equalizer: To Even The Odds
Written by David Deutsch
Copyright: 1987

Novelizations of two episodes from Season 1: The Defector by Heywood Gould in which McCall helps a double agent defect as he also teaches a young boy to stand up to bullies, and Back Home by Neil Cohen, Joel Surnow, and Maurice Hurley which has a banker who is simultaneously trying to force tenants out of a building even as he is planning the murder of his wife.

3 The Equalizer: Blood And Wine The Equalizer: Blood And Wine
Written by David Deutsch
Copyright: 1987

Novelization of one episode from Season 3: Blood and Wine by Coleman Luck which has McCall joining with a monk, a man who once was a terrorist, as they look for the man's former partner who is planning on a major event.

4 The Equalizer The Equalizer
Written by Michael Sloan
Copyright: 2014

Wanting quiet and solitude after his years of doing things for his country he wants to forget, Robert McCall works in a warehouse store and minds his own business. But then seeing bad people hurt good people is something he cannot ignore.

5 Killed In Action Killed In Action
Written by Michael Sloan
Copyright: 2018

A re-imagining of The Equalizer by the man who created the character in the first place. McCall is "a former intelligence officer who helps desperate people in need of his unique skill set". This book tells of his first cases; a woman trying to free her daughter from white slavers and another mother who wants to find out if her son, fighting in Syria, is alive or dead.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:2014
Last Appearance:2014

       A reboot of the terrific television series came about in 2014 when the fantastic Denzel Washington brought back the character with a style uniquely his own but still containing the same essence of justice that Edward Woodward gave so well three decades before.

1 The Equalizer The Equalizer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Actor: Denzel Washington as Robert McCall
Released: 2014

Robert McCall works in a warehouse store and tries to forget the life he once lived as an agent. Sleep does not come easy. Neither does rest when, try as he might to live a peaceful life, he finds he cannot watch bad people hurt good people.

TELEVISION

Number of Episodes:88
First Appearance:1985
Last Appearance:1989
Network:CBS (US)

REGULAR CAST
Edward WoodwardRobert McCall [ 1-4 ]
Robert LansingControl [ 1-4 ]
Keith SzarabajkaMickey Kostmayer [ 1-4 ]

       In September 1985, CBS aired the first episode in a new action series starring veteran British actor Edward Woodward. According to one of the creators of the show, the original thought had been to have someone like James Coburn play the character but it was decided that Mr. Woodward would play him. For his part, Mr. Woodward definitely had the credentials especially after having already played the spy Callan on British television from 1967-1972.
       The shows would traditionally start with a scene in McCall's Manhattan apartment showing the answering machine recording a new call for help, setting the scene for that night's main adventure. The dialogue was routinely brisk and pithy with lots of jabs at McCall from his old friends and warnings to mind his own business from bad guys and even better retorts from McCall. These rejoinders were often followed up with enough physical action to show how much they were meant.
       Playing Control, McCall's former boss and current friend was another veteran actor, Robert Lansing, and his ability to appear mysterious and menacing was as superb as Mr. Woodward's. Throwing in the young but by no means novice agent, Mickey, played with great skill by Keith Szarabajka, and the show was a hit.
       There was enough action to satisfy most couch potatoes and enough violence to give pacifists strokes on a weekly basis. The show lasted four years and might have gone on longer had not Mr. Woodward suffered from a heart attack and frail health afterwards. Even bringing in the great Robert Mitchum for a couple of episodes and having Richard Jordan take over for a few more did not save the series. Mr. Woodward did return to the show but only for another season.

1 Pilot
Episode 1-01, first aired 09/18/1985

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2 China Rain
Episode 1-02, first aired 09/25/1985

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3 The Defector
Episode 1-03, first aired 10/02/1985

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4 The Lock Box
Episode 1-04, first aired 10/09/1985

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5 Lady Cop
Episode 1-05, first aired 10/16/1985

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6 The Confirmation Day
Episode 1-06, first aired 10/23/1985

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7 The Children's Song
Episode 1-07, first aired 10/30/1985

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8 The Distant Fire
Episode 1-08, first aired 11/06/1985

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9 Mama's Boy
Episode 1-09, first aired 11/13/1985

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10 Bump and Run
Episode 1-10, first aired 11/20/1985

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11 Desperately
Episode 1-11, first aired 12/04/1985

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12 Reign of Terror
Episode 1-12, first aired 12/11/1985

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13 Back Home
Episode 1-13, first aired 12/18/1985

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14 Out of the Past
Episode 1-14, first aired 01/15/1986

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15 Dead Drop
Episode 1-15, first aired 01/22/1986

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16 Wash-Up
Episode 1-16, first aired 01/29/1986

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17 Torn
Episode 1-17, first aired 02/05/1986

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18 Unnatural Causes
Episode 1-18, first aired 02/12/1986

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19 Breakpoint
Episode 1-19, first aired 02/19/1986

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20 No Conscience
Episode 1-20, first aired 03/05/1986

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21 Unpunished Crimes
Episode 1-21, first aired 04/01/1986

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22 Pretenders
Episode 1-22, first aired 04/08/1986

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23 Prelude
Episode 2-01, first aired 10/08/1986

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24 Nocturne
Episode 2-02, first aired 10/15/1986

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25 A Community of Civilized Men
Episode 2-03, first aired 10/22/1986

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26 Joyride
Episode 2-04, first aired 10/29/1986

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27 Shades of Darkness
Episode 2-05, first aired 11/05/1986

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28 Nightscape
Episode 2-06, first aired 11/12/1986

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29 Counterfire
Episode 2-07, first aired 11/19/1986

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30 The Line
Episode 2-08, first aired 11/26/1986

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31 Tip on a Sure Thing
Episode 2-09, first aired 12/03/1986

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32 The Cup
Episode 2-10, first aired 12/10/1986

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33 Heartstrings
Episode 2-11, first aired 12/17/1986

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34 High Performance
Episode 2-12, first aired 01/07/1987

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35 Beyond Control
Episode 2-13, first aired 01/14/1987

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36 Carnal Persuasion
Episode 2-14, first aired 01/21/1987

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37 Memories of Manon (1)
Episode 2-15, first aired 02/04/1987

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38 Memories of Manon (2)
Episode 2-16, first aired 02/11/1987

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39 Solo
Episode 2-17, first aired 02/18/1987

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40 A Place to Stay
Episode 2-18, first aired 02/25/1987

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41 Coal Black Soul
Episode 2-19, first aired 05/06/1987

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42 First Light
Episode 2-20, first aired 05/13/1987

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43 Hand and Glove
Episode 2-21, first aired 05/20/1987

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44 Re-Entry
Episode 2-22, first aired 05/27/1987

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45 Blood and Wine (1)
Episode 3-01, first aired 09/23/1987

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46 Blood and Wine (2)
Episode 3-02, first aired 09/23/1987

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47 Suspicion of Innocence
Episode 3-03, first aired 09/30/1987

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48 In the Money
Episode 3-04, first aired 10/07/1987

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49 Encounter in a Closed Room
Episode 3-05, first aired 10/14/1987

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50 Mission: McCall (1)
Episode 3-06, first aired 10/28/1987

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51 Mission: McCall (2)
Episode 3-07, first aired 11/04/1987

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52 Shadow Play
Episode 3-08, first aired 11/11/1987

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53 Inner View
Episode 3-09, first aired 11/18/1987

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54 The Rehearsal
Episode 3-10, first aired 12/02/1987

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55 Christmas Presence
Episode 3-11, first aired 12/16/1987

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56 A Dance on the Dark Side
Episode 3-12, first aired 01/13/1988

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57 The Child Broker
Episode 3-13, first aired 01/20/1988

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58 Video Games
Episode 3-14, first aired 01/27/1988

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59 Something Green
Episode 3-15, first aired 02/10/1988

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60 The Mystery of Manon (1)
Episode 3-16, first aired 02/17/1988

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61 The Mystery of Manon (2)
Episode 3-17, first aired 02/24/1988

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62 No Place Like Home
Episode 3-18, first aired 03/16/1988

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63 Last Call
Episode 3-19, first aired 03/23/1988

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64 Regrets Only
Episode 3-20, first aired 03/30/1988

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65 Target of Choice
Episode 3-21, first aired 04/06/1988

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66 Always a Lady
Episode 3-22, first aired 05/04/1988

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67 The Last Campaign
Episode 4-01, first aired 10/26/1988

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68 Sea of Fire
Episode 4-02, first aired 11/02/1988

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69 Riding the Elephant
Episode 4-03, first aired 11/09/1988

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70 Eighteen with a Bullet
Episode 4-04, first aired 11/16/1988

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71 The Day of the Covenant
Episode 4-05, first aired 12/07/1988

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72 Splinters
Episode 4-06, first aired 12/14/1988

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73 The Making of a Martyr
Episode 4-07, first aired 01/11/1989

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74 The Sins of the Father
Episode 4-08, first aired 01/18/1989

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75 The Visitation
Episode 4-09, first aired 02/01/1989

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76 Past Imperfect
Episode 4-10, first aired 02/15/1989

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77 Trial by Ordeal
Episode 4-11, first aired 03/01/1989

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78 Silent Fury
Episode 4-12, first aired 03/08/1989

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79 Lullaby of Darkness
Episode 4-13, first aired 03/30/1989

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80 17 Zebra
Episode 4-14, first aired 04/06/1989

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81 Starfire
Episode 4-15, first aired 04/13/1989

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82 Time Present, Time Past
Episode 4-16, first aired 04/20/1989

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83 Prisoners of Conscience
Episode 4-17, first aired 04/27/1989

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84 The Caper
Episode 4-18, first aired 05/04/1989

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85 Heart of Justice
Episode 4-19, first aired 05/11/1989

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86 Race Traitors
Episode 4-20, first aired 06/11/1989

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87 Endgame
Episode 4-21, first aired 08/10/1989

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88 Suicide Squad
Episode 4-22, first aired 08/24/1989

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MY COMMENTS

       I was so much a fan of the series, I never missed an episode. If I was not in front of the television when the latest episode was aired, I was there later when my VCR replayed it. I had already loved Edward Woodward as Callan from when I saw him while stationed overseas so the idea of seeing an older but more deadly version taken on corrupt politicians, gangsters, nasty boyfriends, and the like was too much fun to not watch.
       Technically, Robert McCall, the Equalizer, is no longer a spy and most of what he does is no longer spy related but considering the fact that sometimes they are and the fact that he uses the resources, willingly or not, of the Company means this series definitely belongs in this compendium. Add to that the fact that this answers the question of what happens to civilians when they up against professionals.
       The writing of the novelizations is very well done and are worth reading, if only to recapture the fun that was the Equalizer.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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