The show remains as entertaining and engaging as when it first aired
The Professionals MKII Blu-ray Review
With the actors firmly in charge of their characters and the writers now knowing the direction of the show, Season two of The Professionals became the peak of the series.After the antagonistic nature that permeated the first season (one of the reasons it was such a hit) the second recording block saw all the main leads really comfortable with their respective roles, the banter was down pat and the show was never better than when Cowley, Bodie and Doyle were on screen together – save perhaps the ‘car chat’, supposedly ad libbed exchanges between Collins and Shaw, which fast became a highlight of the show.Indeed the writing was altogether better for the second season, the writers now had a clear direction leaving creator Clemens to steer the production of the hard hitting show exactly where he wanted it to go. Comments on the social political climate of the time, taming down of the machoism (though not so you’d notice) but upping the humour and violence to walk that very fine line with perfection; the second season was all up the best of the series run.
Stories were just as hard hitting, but steered away for the controversies of the first season, to concentrate on all-out action. Cowley is given more prominence both as a leader and as a character in his own right, his passionate speech about the necessity of CI5 in the episode The Rack is genuinely moving, and hits home, even now over thirty five years later. The show still remains just as entertaining and just as engaging as when it first aired.
What is The Professionals MKII Blu-ray Picture QualityThe discs present a broadcast correct 1.33:1 aspect using the AVC codec and are Region free.
Just like the MKI set, series two has been given a complete overhaul from the original camera negatives and the results are just as astonishing in terms of clarity, detail and colour reproduction. Detail first – amazing, from skin texture, check out the lines of Cowley’s face or the weave of Doyle’s various jackets (or his permed hair!) to paperwork on desks or graffiti on walls. But the edges are not limited to close ups, the location shooting really opened up the frame and series, giving a very grand scale, and the detail shown adds so much to the image, whether it’s landscape shots of London, fields or helicopters in the sky, there is always a finite edge and never any ringing.
Colour is bright and reasonably bold considering the TV budget, with never any wash or bleed. All the primaries are strong even if it has the slightly dated 70’s pallet which favours earthy hues. Skin tones are a little on the light side, but this was perfectly normal for the style of filming.
The re-mastering is astonishing in terms of clarity, detail and colour reproduction
Contrast and brightness are set to give very decent looking blacks, not much in the way of shadow detail, but the film-stock and budget generally precluded such low level shooting, as such there was not much to begin with and this is evident on the occasional night shoot where blacks become impenetrable, but never crush. The other end of the spectrum is equally well treated with whites never clipping, even whites against a cloudy sky. There is reasonable punch to the picture, but by its very TV nature never has any substantial frame depth.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no edge enhancement or banding issues. Original print damage has all but been eradicated, though there are still the odd nick and dot here and there. Plus our old friend the hair in the camera gate makes an appearance but is nowhere near as prominent as in the MKI set. Grain is still present and correct and on occasion becomes extremely heavy, another consideration of budget and film-stock as this is generally low lighting scenes, though some in The Rack episode are off; a source issue and not this transfer.
Just like the first series, the picture restoration given to the MKII set is nothing short of astonishing and it looks better than on its original broadcast.
What is The Professionals MKII Blu-ray Sound QualitySeveral sound options, but I went with the English dts-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Originally recorded with mono sound, the scope for true immersive surround is limited, and that’s what you get with this track, limited surround, but it never sounds forced or false, just open. The main focus is on the frontal array which gives the main stereo its effects (gun shots, cars etc.) as well as housing the dialogue, which has a very good presentation, being clear, clean and very natural sounding. Surround speakers pipe up occasionally to add a little ambience, but don’t expect much, it simply isn’t there, but what little there is helps to open up the track immensely.
Laurie Johnson’s phenomenal score is given full reign of the speakers
Bass is somewhat limited this time around, gun shots and explosions don’t quite give the low down oomph for a fully immersive thump; cars and motorbike engines, too, fail to fully ignite the speakers. However, Laurie Johnson’s phenomenal score is given full reign of the speakers (even having its own isolated score track to boot) and really adds a punch to the track. By comparison the original mono track feels extremely limited.
The Professionals MKII Blu-ray ExtrasSeries 2 Ad Bumper – The short piece that preceded and precluded the adverts (amazing how much I missed this in the episodes!
A Stirring of Dust Outtake – See the cameramen in a car chase.
Blind Run Outtake – Taken from ‘It’ll be Alright on the Night’ complete with false laughter track – Doyle falls out of a van.
Blind Run Behind the Scenes – Of greater value is this raw footage of behind the scene filming, showing stunt gags, filming set up and a candid shoot; includes some sound but is far too brief at only four minutes.
US Sales Trailer – See how the Yanks sold the series to themselves.
Galleries – HD pictures set out in episode titles, an uncountable number of shots, very impressive.
PDF Material – Pop the disc into your computer to see even more (I didn’t).
Book – A book detailing everything you need to know about the filming of the second recoding block – astonishing detail by TV historian Andrew Pixley.
The Professionals MKII Blu-ray VerdictThe second season of The Professionals is a triumph and it would never quite reach these lofty heights again. The stories were top rate, there is not a bad one amongst them and, indeed, it contains some of the series' best ever episodes (Blind Run). Actors Collins, Shaw and Gordon were fully immersed in their roles by now with the antagonistic nature of the first season giving way to good humour and a natural respect which comes across on screen as thoroughly entertaining chemistry.
The writers too now had a clear direction on where the series was heading and this enabled series creator Clemens to steer the ship in the direction he envisioned. Just as hard hitting, and chock full of action and humour, the stories were consistently high with the leads giving the very best performances. Episodes exploring the political climate of the time as well as policing and the very existence of CI5 itself; gone were the more controversial elements to be replaced with absorbing and engaging entertainment.
The stories were top rate, there is not a bad one in the whole season, containing as it does some classics of the entire series run
As a Blu-ray set, Network have given up the goods, once again, all thirteen episodes of the second recording block shown in their original broadcast order (something all TV broadcast have failed to do) and re-mastered into glorious and astonishing picture quality that betters its original broadcast! Colour, detail and contrast are set to give a truly remarkable picture that belies its age, and whist the re-mastered surround track opens up the sound stage and give tremendous depth there is a slight lacking of bass and immersion. The set is slightly let down by the lack of any substantial extras in terms of visual material, but if you like to read then the PDF material and exclusive book contain copious amount to get through.
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