The Saint: Set 1

The Saint: Set 1 (1966)
A&E Home Video
Cast: Roger Moore
Extras: Photo Gallery, Roger Moore Biography, Trailers

If you hear the title "The Saint" and images of Val Kilmer immediately spring to mind then you owe it to yourself to experience the real Saint and expunge the memories of that awful 1997 theatrical remake from your mind.

Simon Templar (Roger Moore) is the Saint, a wealthy womanizing scoundrel who has a soft spot for those in need of aid but who also has a darker side and isn’t above mixing himself up in events solely for his own benefit. "The Saint" follows the same basic formula as the James Bond movies which should come as no surprise as both series were launched in 1962 and both are based on popular literary characters. Beautiful women, fast cars, exotic locales, megalomaniacal bad guys, and clean, bloodless violence are the tried-and-true hallmarks of both series. This connection is further strengthened by the fact that the actor who portrayed the Saint, Roger Moore, was later cast as James Bond and he played both roles with a similar style.

"The Saint" ran from 1962-69 on British television but, oddly enough, A&E’s first two-DVD set of "The Saint" features episodes from the show’s fifth season — the first to be filmed in color. I would have much preferred to see the episodes released in chronological order but I’m sure some marketing guru decided that the public would be more apt to buy the set if it was in color. I imagine that the earlier episodes will eventually make their way to DVD and in the meantime there isn’t much in the way of character background that can’t be quickly picked up when jumping into the series at its mid-point.

Episode Guide

The Queen’s Ransom — During a trip to Monte Carlo, Simon Templar finds himself saving a deposed Middle Eastern king from assassins. Awed by Templar’s skills, the king hires him to transport some valuable jewels back to his kingdom so he can attempt to retake the throne. As part of the deal, Templar must also take along the Queen, a real firebrand who causes him trouble at every turn.

Interlude In Venice — This time around the Saint is in Venice when he happens upon a young girl being attacked. After returning the girl safely to her wealthy family, Templar becomes embroiled in their troubles and, when the girl is kidnapped, the Saint must once again come to the rescue.

The Russian Prisoner — Vacationing in Geneva, Simon Templar finds himself unknowingly aiding in the defection of a Soviet scientist. Hounded by both Soviet agents and the local police, the Saint is himself aided by the scientist’s daughter.

The Reluctant Revolution — Arriving in Brazil, Templar’s luggage is inadvertently swapped with that of a mysterious woman. Examining her things, the Saint realizes that she may in fact be an assassin. Tracking her, Templar soon finds himself involved with both the woman and an attempt to overthrow the ruling dictator.

The Helpful Pirate — Here we find Simon Templar in Germany where an unknown group is planning to kill a renowned laser scientist and blackmail yet another South American dictator.

The Convenient Monster — The Saint goes hunting for the Loch Ness monster but finds that the creature is nothing more than a ruse to cover up yet another sinister plot.

"The Saint" is presented in its original broadcast television <$PS,full frame> format. As is the case with many of the British television series released on DVD by A&E, "The Saint" was licensed from Carlton in the U.K. and we have them to thank for the fine restoration done for this show. The image is quite sharp with nice color saturation and surprisingly good black levels. The transfer is also free from any extreme edge enhancement or compression artifacts. There are a few physical defects evident on the source materials but all in all I can’t imagine that "The Saint" looked any better during its original run on television.

Audio is presented in an English <$DD,Dolby Digital> mono mix split between the two front speakers. Depending on your set-up you may get some surround activity when using Pro-Logic or DPLII decoders but I preferred the sound output using the direct mode to anchor the sound firmly to the front speakers. The soundtrack is nice and clear and even provides a fair amount of dynamic range. For a 1960s television program this is a solid audio presentation.

As for bonus features, sadly this first set of "The Saint" DVDs includes only a few still photos, trailers for the six included episodes, and a text biography for star Roger Moore. Hopefully some more in-depth extras will surface on later discs.

"The Saint" is a fast-paced show full of action and intrigue and it isn’t hard to see why it has built up such a following of fans in the almost forty years since it first aired on television. A&E’s release of "The Saint" on DVD is most welcome and the quality of the video and audio is better than expected. The decision to launch these first DVDs with episodes from season five is a bit odd but in no way lessens the enjoyment of the series. Fans of the James Bond films are sure to enjoy the strikingly similar look and feel of "The Saint" and it’s safe to assume that fans of good, classic television in general will also find this set to their liking.