The Professionals

ATV Today has taken a look at the latest release of The Professionals on Blu-ray. One of most successful action thriller series ever made, it can now be enjoyed on this digitally restored, High Definition release.

If you’re a regular DVD and Blu-ray buyer from Network Distributing you’ll already know you get an awful lot of value for your money with their releases, more often than not the discs come with extra features and bonus material which makes Network stand out from the majority of other companies doing similar work. Its clear with every release from Network that its not just a business; there is a genuine love for what they do, and always a great deal of care goes into each release.

The Professionals: MkIV is no exception to this lavish offering of extras, and that’s where we’ll begin. If you’ve already bought some of the previous volumes of the action drama then you’ll know the time and effort that has gone into restoring and cleaning up the material for Blu-ray. A feature on how the company has achieved the great looking footage is contained on the extras disc. It shows how wobbly and damaged film is made to look brand new, blotches, scratches and dirt marks are all removed and grain is cleaned up, making the pictures look, fashions and styles aside, like new. Sound sync problems have been corrected and the fabulous theme tune composed by Laurie Johnson, along with the incidental music, has all been sourced from the original sound masters to give the best quality possible. It is fascinating to see how damaged film elements or juddering sequences can be transformed into picture perfect episodes.

Special features include brand-new, High Definition restorations of all 18 episodes in series four and five from the camera-original negatives, new 5.1 tracks from original sound elements plus remastered original as-broadcast mono tracks and remastered music-only tracks featuring Laurie Johnson’s original scores. – Network

The Professionals

There are also two ATV Today Midland News reports featuring separately the late Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw speaking about ventures outside of the series; such as Martin’s interview from July 1981 for his arrival in the stage musical They’re Playing Our Song and footage of Lewis from December 1980 when he was taking part in the Liverpool to London charity walk – while the out-takes and rushes from a specially produced programme for the armed forces runs for 18 minutes of fun featuring a giggling Lewis Collins trying to conduct interviews and the late Gordon Jackson blowing an awful lot of raspberries. What would Mrs Bridges say about that, one wonders…

Another great bonus, which Network lavish on viewers and lovers of classic television, are the photo galleries. Here there are 100s of library stills from the ITV archives featuring scene shots and promotion imagery from across the episodes. And if that wasn’t enough there is also a bonus gallery of Lewis Collins’ appearance on morning children’s series Tiswas. In the memorabilia gallery a selection of print releases are presented ranging from the official poster magazine to the authrorised LWT novels penned by Ken Blake.

Starring Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw as hard-hitting special agent duo Bodie and Doyle, and with Upstairs Downstairs’ Gordon Jackson as their single-minded boss George Cowley, the fictional exploits of law enforcement department CI5 were a massive ratings success throughout the series’ initial transmission in the 1970s and ’80s, and are still repeated around the world nearly four decades later. –  Network

Episode wise of course if you love crime drama and action adventure then The Professionals: MkIV is a perfect buy. Faultless performances from Collins, Shaw and Jackson are backed up by a generally all round well acted supporting cast, including some younger actors in the episode The Gun. Plots include also a nice mix of humour as well as the expected car and even boat chases. Eighteen episodes complete the release. The first four discs contain four episodes per disc with the episodes, the final disc featuring two editions and the extras feature.

The Professionals

Episode run down, for those who haven’t seen the series we’ll not spoil it by providing any plot details, but it is safe to say the storylines are compelling and we enjoyed watching each edition – often a couple of episodes at a time they’re quite addictive. Disc one contains The Gun, a drug dealer called Gary gets involved in some murky business and ends up shooting a client. Fearing he’s about to be stopped by the law he randomly discards his gun. Fourteen-year old schoolboy Tony finds the weapon and accidentally wounds a friend.

Wild Justice sees Bodie become obsessed with a motor cycle gang much to the bemusement of Cowley and Doyle. However there is a dark reason for his interest int the group.  Blackout sees CI5 attempt to locate a missing important family and their captors before the troublemakers make an attack on a diplomatic meeting while in It’s Only A Beautiful Picture smuggling art treasures and industrial secrets form the key to the storyline, oh and those pesky foreign powers who are only too happy to take the loot.

Blood Sports sees a terrorist group causing a headache for CI5, Hijack sees a foreign diplomat tip off the underworld about the kind of lucrative silver bullion his embassy transports leading to plans to have it hi-jacked. In You’ll Be Alright a notorious villain turns to the police when his family becomes the target of a vendetta. Kick Back sees undercover action, fake assassination, a face from Bodie’s past and Italian terrorists while in Discovered In A Graveyard Doyle is shot in his flat by an intruder and Cowley finds its connected to his work at CI5. This episode gives us entry into the world of Doyle’s dreams as lays lifeless in a coma.

Fox Hole On The Roof sees two former prisoners decide to make themselves a million quid. Of course it involves bribery, guns and a little bit of drag, The Ojuka Situation sees Doyle and Bodie assigned to protect a former African leader called Colonel Ojuka, who has someone or some organisation out to assassinate him, Operation Susie is very much a secret operation as the team try to unravel who is behind a cocaine trafficking organisation with a little personal protection thrown into the mix, The Untouchables is a game of cards and an an Arab diplomat with a few twists and turns. In Cry Wolf a female charity worker is being terrorised by a masked stalker, A Man Called Quinn concerns a former agent called Quinn who is still suffering from mental problems having been brain-washed by the KGB. Escaping from a mental institution he thinks he still has one last murder to commit – that of Cowley.

Lawson’s Last Stand follows mentally unstable Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lawson after he escapes from an army psychiatric hospital while in the possession of vital NATO secrets, Sky Probe sees a clash between CI5 and MI6. Mix into that a dubious government official, hit-men, an exploding boat and a Russian with thousands of pounds… finally No Stone sees the team battle against time as a bomb designed to blow up a court-house has to be discovered in time.

The Professionals LWT

The release contains English HOH subtitles and the running time is approx 900 minutes. The Blu-Ray goes on sale today, Monday April 25th 2016. Ordering details and more information can be found at Network Releasing.

All in all its certainly worth adding to your archive collection, with the perfect combination of great episode content, a labour of love restoration job on the picture quality and the bonus of the cleaned up music. Of course you’d expect nothing less from Network, which is why they’re the best when it comes to releasing archive content.

Painstakingly restored from the original camera negatives, this series looks simply impeccable and better than ever. So strap yourselves in for some thrilling entertainment with the boys from CI5 one last time with MkIV. – Network


With thanks to Network Releasing. Images: Network Distributing/Avengers Mk1 Productions/LWT/ITV Studios
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