CBS obviously has high hopes for a restart of « The Equalizer » and is giving it a high-profile premiere after the Super Bowl 2021 – the most coveted time slot on television.
This will bring the series with Queen Latifah a large audience that will never approach again. CBS knows this, of course, but is confident that “The Equalizer” will attract a loyal core audience that is sufficient in today’s saturated television landscape.
That remains to be seen, but the Sunday night premiere gave us a predictable drama this way of formula primetime. At least not yet new, but « The Equalizer » checks all the boxes, is well played with an appealing cast and has a strong main character – which should be enough to ensure reasonable durability.
The series represents the CBS series 80s starring Edward Woodward and the 2014 film Denzel Washington starring Latifah as Robyn McCall, who left the CIA after a stellar career in which he caught the bad guys. (There is a hint that something is going wrong in Venezuela.) Divorced, she moved back to New York City, where her 15-year-old daughter Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes) lives with Robyn’s Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint) taking care of the teenager in her mother’s frequent (and long) absences. This isn’t fully explained in the opener – and there aren’t any other contextual narrative points either – but I expect we’ll learn more about Robyn’s relationship with Delilah and Aunt Vi as the series progresses. (Robyn’s « cover story » is that she worked for a nonprofit all these years.)
« The Equalizer » begins in an arresting fashion when a lawyer is gunned down in a dark alley for an innocent young woman who is responsible for responsible for the gangland-style murder. That leads Robyn, who is officially « retired », and her crew of pals – bearded (of course) iconoclastic hackers Harry Keshegian (Adam Goldberg) and Melody Bayani (Liza Lapira) – to a grubby billionaire entrepreneur.
« You think you can buy and sell the whole world! » Robyn barks at him, a predictable line that isn’t exactly Shakespeare, but hey, it makes sense. She then uses her insane skills to solve the case and she is a tough cookie with an ingenious ability to bypass every possible roadblock, complemented by her whirl of fist punches, karate kicks, punches in people’s heads … the usual stuff. We don’t expect anything less and Robyn / Latifah delivers the goods (without breaking a sweat). It’s a step backwards, but she’s fucking « The Equalizer » and announcing her intention to continue the good fight until the end of the episode.
Chris Noth is also present as William Bishop, Robyn’s former CIA colleague, who now runs a private investigation firm in town. We’ll undoubtedly see a lot more of him when « The Equalizer » tunes into its regular 8pm. Time slot on February 14th. CBS is really good at this type of genre offering by the numbers – and in this case, this should give The Equalizer a chance to stand out.
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