The Professionals – Mk II is now available on Blu-ray from Network. The reason why they haven’t branded these releases as series is probably due to the somewhat haphazard way the programme was shot – with certain episodes made during one production block and then not transmitted until several years later!
There were five series broadcast on LWT in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, but it does seem that Network will follow the path trodden by Contender’s DVD releases by releasing four sets in production, rather than broadcast, order.
Anybody who has previously bought the Contender DVDs or has ever caught a re-run on ITV4 will be well aware just how poor the episodes looked. This was because the previous home video releases and tv broadcasts were derived from twenty year old duplicated prints, which weren’t in the best of shape to begin with.
For many years it seemed that this would be the best we could possibly have, as the location of the camera negatives was something of a mystery. To cut to the chase, Network have been able to locate the negs and strike new prints – and the difference in picture quality is simply night and day.
Whether you buy the BR or the DVD (the DVD of Mk II has been delayed, but will be released early next year) for anybody familiar with the washed-out prints which have done the rounds for decades, the improvement here is nothing short of staggering. The Professionals was only shot on 16mm, so obviously there’s not the same level of detail that 35mm would have offered, but it’s still such a major upgrade in picture quality that it’s an essential purchase. And if you’ve never seen the series before, then these releases are the ideal way to start.
Whilst The Professionals hit the ground running in series one, it certainly picked up more momentum with the episodes in this set. There’s plenty of good stories here, but if I had to pick one, then First Night is a cracker, full of the moments that made the series what it was – Bodie and Doyle’s banter, Cowley’s withering put-downs and some top-notch action.
As with MK I, there’s exhaustive production notes from Andrew Pixley that help to place these programmes in context and they contain a great deal of information that was new to me.