TEN THINGS I NOTICED ABOUT...
A group of ruthless mercenaries apply their
deadly talents to organised crime.
001 CI5 are constantly pitting themselves against the deadliest opposition: seasoned mercenaries, gang bosses, assassins, rogue agents, crazed terrorists. For all the hype, however, these enemies of the state rarely seem to cause too many problems in the long run. It may very well take Bodie and Doyle about forty minutes an episode to track their opponents down but, when they do, it's game fucking over. Their dominance is a testament to Cowley, of course, who seems to have an eye for raw talent - Doyle was plucked from obscurity as a Detective Constable, Bodie from the misery of an Angolan jail - but, under his gruff tutelage, they have become pretty much the deadliest men in the world - and they still manage to have a laugh at work. It makes you proud to be British, unlike this gormless looking coward.
002 Aside from his talents for camping up, chatting up and duffing up, Bodie is also ace at the noble art of Darts, as he demonstrates by getting a double twenty simply by flinging a dart over his shoulder as he hurriedly leaves the ward room. Magic arrows, especially for someone dressed in beige slacks, a salmon shirt and a double breasted chocolate brown blazer. I love Bodie.
003 This is Jeremy Bullock. He has an interesting CV, having been part of Cliff's anodyne crew in 'Summer Holiday', playing a horrific pig / ginger chap hybrid in 'O, Lucy Man!' and, perhaps most famously, as ruthless bounty hunter Boba Fett in 'The Empire Strikes Back' and the one about the Jedi coming back. He plays hired muscle here, too, but not particularly well, as his face is uncovered.
004 It’s also nice to see the wonderfully grumpy Geoffrey Palmer working the other side of the street, here using his usually lovable hangdog face and crumpled velvet voice to essay a real bastard. Thirty seven years on, his well-heeled ‘respectable businessman’ is still a very relevant characterisation: he'd probably be in the Cabinet now.
005 'The Professionals' dedication to duty means that they do not really exist in real time, by which I mean that their lives almost totally revolve around duty and action and punching people in the guts. Cowley never goes home, ever. Sure, for the lads there are women, but this is mere consumption, the same sort of a relationship that an athlete has with a bottle of water, or a car with screen wash.
With the present in stasis and the future unthinkable there is a great emphasis on 'the past': past battles, past friends, past enemies, past friends who have become enemies, past enemies who have become friends, past lives, past loves. In this episode, ‘the past’ is Bodie’s previous employment as a mercenary in Africa, running with the very men he is now trying to capture or kill. Bodie opens up to Doyle about the complicated relationship he has with Krivas, the leader of the group (Krivas is played by David Suchet: he’s stubby, chubby but surprisingly handy – he’s also a psychopath). The original enmity between them was caused by a woman, of course.
'This girl was special, see. Beautiful. I loved her, really loved her. Krivas had a crazy notion she was his bird, so he killed her. 44 Magnum at close range. She was beautiful".
Just in case you were wondering, Ladbrokes are no longer taking bets on Bodie kicking Krivas' arse off.
The music in this episode is absolutely superb throughout, by the way, tense and funky as hell. In an interesting variation, Bodie's sad story is accompanied by a funereal version of the main theme played mournfully on a tuba, which seems ridiculous but sounds amazing.
006 This is a pretty violent episode, with an awful lot of people getting a vicious smack on the head. I particularly liked Suchet twatting Del Henney's noggin into a pillar (which wobbles), a kind of two-for-one rebound deal that leads to a couple of funny faces then unconsciousness.
Overall, however, you can't top Bodie when it comes to the knockout punch...
007 It’s worth taking a moment to think of the non-human cost of keeping Britain Great. This mangled barrier at the Nuclear Fission Recycling Plant, for instance. In a bitterly ironic twist, that barrier had only one day left to retirement.
008 Cowley's leg. Cowley's leg is featured in almost every episode and, even though it's sometimes out of shot, you always sense its presence. He got a bullet in it during the Spanish Civil War, you see, and now it plays him up constantly. Doctors could remove the bullet, of course, but they couldn't guarantee he'd keep the leg, so he'd rather hobble around swallowing whisky and Anadin and slowing everybody down. In this episode his leg nearly gets him killed. No wonder he is so miffed when Doyle has the nerve to ask “Are you okay, Cowley?" – “Yes, yes, I'm okay" he replies, "and it's Mister Cowley”.
He's mainly cross with himself, though - and that bastard leg.
009 The mercenaries are immediately distinguishable (and supremely conspicuous) because they wear full combat fatigues wherever they go, even when just walking around town and visiting their families. On the other hand, Bodie goes into battle camouflaged in black flared trousers and a bright red shirt. You can see him for miles. I'm not sure if that's best practice, but it certainly sends out a very strong message.
010 Most episodes of ‘The Professionals’ climax in some sort of a scrap, of course, but the ultimate battle here is particularly drawn out and nasty, as Bodie takes on Krivas and the two old enemies and love rivals knock seven bells out of each other. Strangely, Doyle turns away from this epic bout, but it could just be that he knows Bodie will be the victor. We don’t see all the fight, but we see its aftermath as a bloodied and exhausted Bodie, his clothes ripped to bits, trudges towards Cowley and Doyle and says “You should see the other feller”.
You know what, I hope he’s beaten that bastard to death, or, at least, ripped his balaclava off.