Giving some other TV fixtures an ‘Equalizer’-style update

It’s hard to imagine there wasn’t some sort of blackmail in play. Or, at the very least, a seriously compromising video or two.

I mean, why else would producers pay for the rights to the musty TV show “The Equalizer” and then make a movie that bears only passing resemblance to it?

In the TV version, which ran from 1985 to ’89 on CBS, Robert McCall (Edward Woodward) is a gray-haired British gent in a fancy suit, tie and overcoat. Recently retired from a spy agency, he immediately sets out to help New Yorkers in need.

In the 2014 movie, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) took a toothbrush to his New Balance sneakers before showing up to his job at a Boston home improvement store. Wanting to be left alone and never, ever again use the black-ops skills he’d cultivated, McCall spent his sleepless nights reading classic novels in a coffee shop.

In the first episode of the series, McCall punches a trio of blackmailers, fires a single shot into a knife-wielding man, unloads two more rounds into a car and shoots a would-be rapist in the arm.

In the movie, McCall beats the stuffing out of a couple of corrupt cops and single-handedly butchers the majority of a Russian crime syndicate using everything from a shot glass to a corkscrew and barbed wire to a power drill. It’s gruesome stuff.

And while TV McCall was a bit of a reserved fuddy-duddy, movie McCall is youthful and energetic, even though Washington was somehow five years older than Woodward was when each debuted in the role.

With “The Equalizer 2” — the first sequel in Washington’s storied career — hitting theaters this weekend, here are some predictions for how Hollywood might treat movie adaptations of other TV fixtures starring actors of a certain age:

‘Murder, She Wrote’

For years, Cabot Cove, Maine — population 3,560 — has been one of the deadliest enclaves in the world. The staggering number of murders committed in the sleepy community has been attributed to local disagreements and the occasional outsider with a grudge. Until now. Former CIA station chief and aspiring mystery writer Jessica Fletcher (Jennifer Lawrence) has done a bit of snooping around and, despite the warnings from Sheriff Amos Tupper (Chadwick Boseman) to mind her own business, she’s convinced it’s all been the work of an elusive serial killer. While struggling to meet the deadline for her debut novel, Jessica will have to prove the fiend’s existence, then trick him into confessing all of his crimes just as soon as he thinks no one is listening.


A tailor (Michael Stuhlbarg) known for making irresistible seersucker suits wakes up to the news that his son (Tom Holland) has been framed for murdering a prominent rapper. Desperate for justice, he reaches out to his main client, military sniper turned folksy, Southern, hot dog-loving, banjo-playing defense lawyer Ben Matlock (Chris Pratt). To save his client’s life, Matlock must infiltrate the dangerous Atlanta music scene and bring the real culprit to justice. But first, he’ll have to survive.

‘Touched by an Angel’

When heaven is decimated after an attack by the minions of Lucifer (Tom Hiddleston), angels Tess (Zoe Saldana) and her protege Monica (“Stranger Things” Emmy nominee Millie Bobby Brown) are called back from their neverending road trip of inspiring wayward teens and unwed mothers in order to lead a holy war against the forces of darkness in the far reaches of hell itself.

‘The Golden Girls’

Former Brooklyn teacher Dorothy Zbornak (Kate McKinnon) is days away from her second wedding. Before that, though, she’ll have to make it through the wildest night of her life: a debauched bachelorette party thrown by her roommates, sexually voracious Southern belle Blanche Devereaux (Amy Schumer), scatterbrained Minnesotan Rose Nylund (Tiffany Haddish) and Dorothy’s uncensored Sicilian mother, Sophia Petrillo (Melissa McCarthy). But when the male stripper (Peter Dinklage) dies from an overdose, the girls find themselves running from the mob through some of the hottest nightclubs in Miami in this raunchy comedy. Kevin Hart co-stars as a Kevin Hart-type character.

‘Sanford and Son’

Kindhearted antiquities dealer Fred Sanford (Idris Elba) and his son, Lamont (Donald Glover), must defend their Beverly Hills gallery from a team of mercenaries out to steal a prized artifact. They’ll rely on help from Fred’s best friend, tech entrepreneur Grady (Hannibal Buress), and Lamont’s Aunt Esther (Lupita Nyong’o), a combat medic, to hold off the intruders until help can arrive in the form of LAPD SWAT officers Smitty (Terry Crews) and Hoppy (Jason Statham). What none of them knows is that the elite cyberterrorist (Michael Fassbender) behind the invasion is also responsible for the death of Fred’s beloved wife, Elizabeth.

‘Werther’s Original: The Movie’

Retired Secret Service agent Jack Werther (Liam Neeson) grabs his favorite cardigan and nestles into a leather chair to tell his grandson Billy (Jacob Tremblay) about the very first sweets given to him by his grandfather. Before he can finish the tale, heavily armed goons burst into the room, grab Billy, set him aside and steal Jack’s wonderful butter candy. It will take plenty of frequent-flier miles and every last one of Jack’s particular set of skills — along with an assist from the president (Salma Hayek) — to retrieve the delicious treat from a Russian oligarch (Gary Oldman) so Billy can hear the rest of the story and finally taste his first individually wrapped candy.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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