CALLAN, SET 1
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For an assassin, loyalty and treachery dictate life and death
In a BAFTA-winning performance, Edward Woodward (The Equalizer) stars as Callan, a brooding, conscience-stricken assassin for a shadowy British intelligence service so secret it doesn’t have a name.
With the Cold War grinding on, agents from the East and West engage in elaborate deceptions, both sides seeking temporary advantage in an endless struggle. No one plays this game better than Callan. His sharp eyes, steely will, and steady hand with a gun make him a valuable asset to his superior, called Hunter (William Squire, Anne of the Thousand Days). But Callan knows his usefulness could end at any moment--especially with the younger, ruthlessly ambitious agent Cross (Patrick Mower, Target) eager to advance. In this amoral world, where men and women serve only as means to another’s ends, Callan fully understands the consequences of failure, seizing each assignment as one more chance to survive.
DVD FEATURES INCLUDE Callan trivia and biography of Edward Woodward.
At first glance, Callan seems like simply a well-made, realistic spy story, in the vein of John le Carre’s intricate novels. But episode after episode subverts your expectations as Callan and his ambitious colleague Cross ruin the lives of innocent people in the name of national security. Callan is a fascinating creation; moody, bad-tempered, prone to treat his flunky/stoolpigeon Lonely (Russell Hunter) with a weird, almost homoerotic mix of possessiveness and abuse. In another actor’s hands, he might be downright unpleasant; but Woodward--who later starred in the series The Equalizer as well as movies like The Wicker Man and Breaker Morant--is a uniquely compelling actor, able to make cruelty and moral queasiness strangely magnetic. Whether he’s planting evidence to ruin a young woman’s engagement or trying to protect a racist politician from assassination, Callan comes across as simultaneously appalling and admirable. Oddly enough, starting with the third season enhances the program, adding to the hidden motives and secret histories. The supporting cast is uniformly superb, particularly Hunter as the squirrelly and aptly-named Lonely, who both loathes and desperately craves the approval of Callan. This series is essential viewing for anyone interested in the spy genre, but may be even more intriguing to people who don’t like tales of ridiculous secret agent derring-do--think of Callan as the anti-James-Bond. --Bret Fetzer
Top Customer Reviews
The Section head, codename Hunter (William Squire), AKA Charlie, is cold, ruthless, needs Callan, and cares little about who gets killed. Concern is only the how, why, and if anyone finds out.
There's a nucleus of regular cast, but each episode (9 in this Set 1) is primarily a new suspense story involving espionage, murder, blackmail, and all those good black things. Callan is THE top agent (realism, no James Bond or Get Smart stuff here)--kills when ordered--is a deadly shot--with a tinge of conscious, fair play, and justice. It's a bit on the dark side, every man for himself. A collection of individuals in a dark world, void of trust. A climate where right and wrong have no definition. Sometimes Callan has to much personal emotion for his job of deceit and dirty-tricks. That makes for a fascinating character. Great character relationships throughout the series. Well, some relationships turn downright nasty. Callan even has feelings, though never shown, toward a dirty, criminal type, Lonely (Russell Hunter), who is occasional helpful, in all the bad ways of getting the job done.
The "Section's" colour code for files: RED= dangerous, priority, target death; YELLOW= occasional surveillance; BLUE= wrong party; WHITE= put out of action via prison, bankruptcy, mental home, etc. What colour is your file?
Downside: no subtitles.Read more ›
With that said, the episodes are tremendously entertaining if short on action by American standards. The scripts are superb, as the writers have clearly disposed of the "champagne and caviar" adventures of James Bond, but instead present a terribly complex but realistic portrait of cold war espionage in all of its ugliness--the deception, torture, duplicity, and divided loyalties that characterize spying at it's most ruthless. Supporting cast is also excellent with the late Russell Hunter as the not-so-bright Lonely, Callan's only friend, informant, and freelance accomplice in his nefarious deeds. The episodes are presented chronologically, so it's important to watch them in consecutive order--references are made to former characters and events in a consecutive timeline as Callan's cynicism towards the Section, his superiors, and his colleagues virtually reaches a boiling point at the close of Set 1.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
No problem with service. This series was as if I was watching a stage production with limited sets. Woodward over acted in this role.Published 7 months ago by Carl B. Butler
I simply cannot get enough of this series. In fact I have watched SEVERAL times and Edward Woodward's performance is just mindblowing. Read morePublished 12 months ago by coe lewis
Callan is one of the best TV series ever. The problem with Set 1 is it is actually Series 3. I was disappointed to find that it does not contain Series1. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Bronwyn Hunt
10 years ago I purchased SET 3 of Callan and loved it ( 5 stars).The moment I saw set 1 and 2 on Amazon I purchased both. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kay Bowling
This truly is Edward Woodward's show and his talent, abilities and inspiration carry through the series. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Pen Name