If you’ve been wondering if you should watch The Equalizer on CBS, then we’ve got you covered. I’ve been watching since the premiere. And to be fair, it’s not the kind of show that sends me straight to the Internet, to read fan theories and propose my own. There isn’t a vast conspiracy I’m trying to unravel before the characters do. But it’s fun. It’s the perfect show to put on when I’m
procrastinating working. I can enjoy it for an hour and then get back to other things, but I still find myself looking forward to it every week.
The series isn’t an original concept. It’s the remake of a 1980s series with the same name, which was rebooted in two movies starring Denzel Washington. From the show’s official website:
Robyn McCall, an enigmatic woman with a mysterious background, uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. McCall comes across to most as an average single mom who is quietly raising her teenage daughter. But to a trusted few, she is “The Equalizer” — an anonymous guardian angel and defender of the downtrodden, who’s also dogged in her pursuit of personal redemption.
It’s pretty much all you need to know about the show going in. She’s a former operative of “The Company” (the C.I.A.). Disenfranchised by her prior job, she now uses her particular set of skills to help those who can’t get help anywhere else.
It’s Person of Interest and Burn Notice mixed together, with a dash of Taken thrown in. And, honestly, if that doesn’t sell you on the concept, I don’t know what will.
For the most part, the characters are solid and well-conceptualized, straight out of the gate. Which, let’s be honest. isn’t always the case with new television shows. For the main cast, we have:
Queen Latifah stars as Robyn McCall, the titular “Equalizer” of the series. She has a very particular set of skills. Skills she as acquired over a long car- oops, that’s a different show. But it still applies. She does have a particular set of skills other people don’t have. And those skills help her kick a little ass and help people out while doing it. If I’d known that was an option, I might have rethought my career choices in college.
Tory Kittles as Detective Marcus Dante. He has a particular set of ethics. These ethics have gotten him in trouble before, but they also prompt him to provide a counterbalance to McCall’s antics, stopping her from going too far. He doesn’t know who McCall is, but he’s trying to figure that out. In some ways, he’s the “Joss Carter” of the series. And while I’m not entirely sure he’ll be a future love interest, knowing television as I do, I wouldn’t rule it out.
Adam Goldberg as Harry Keshegian. Every show of this type needs an “Alfred” and he’s it. He also has a particular set of skills, but they aren’t necessarily relating well with other people. He’s a top-notch hacker who befriended McCall at some point before she helped fake his death. He’s also married to…
Liza Lapira as Melody “Mel” Bayani. McCall’s long-time friend, she’s first-class sniper, who’s helped the Equalizer out of a scrape or two. She also runs the bar that they use as their secret base, making her…Batman’s landlord? This comparison is starting to break down.
Laya DeLeon Hayes as Delilah McCall, Robyn’s not-entirely-estranged-but-not-entirely-close teenage daughter. She doesn’t know what her mom used to do for a living. She certainly doesn’t know what her mom does for a living now. I suspect this will not remain the case forever, so there may be drama ahead.
Lorraine Toussaint as Aunt Vi, Robyn’s aunt and in many ways, Delilah’s surrogate mother. She’s the glue that holds the family together. At least, she tries to hold the family together, but there’s only so much she can do. At any rate, while Robyn is quite adept at kicking butt and taking names, she’s not necessarily the best at the whole “family” thing. Work just keeps getting in the way. So while she turns to her team for help out in the field, it’s Aunt Vi she turns to when it comes to tackling the war at home.
Last but not least, there’s Chris Noth as William Bishop. (I first saw Noth in Law and Order back in the day, and is just me, or is he getting better looking with age? Just me? Oh, okay then.) He’s McCall’s ex-director in her “Company” days. He’s also her old friend…and possibly mentor? Although he’s retired from the “Company” now, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to run interference for her upon occasion.
WHAT WORKS (AND WHAT DOESN’T)
New shows can be a bit “hit or miss” because sometimes things work, and sometimes they just don’t. And you can’t always predict which will be which.
For the most part, everything in The Equalizer works. The characters are engaging, and the problem-of-the-week plots are interesting. So far, there doesn’t seem to be an overarching season-long mystery to be solved, and that’s actually okay. As I said before, there are some shows you want to be able to enjoy without needing a conspiracy board to keep track of what’s going on.
If there’s one part of the show that’s a little weaker than the others, it’s the handling of the teenage daughter. Which, to be clear, isn’t the fault of the actress at all. It’s often a problem, in my opinion, in shows with teenage children. They’re almost always written – at least at first – in that stereotypical “I’m so misunderstood” teenage way. While the hero of the series is the long-suffering parent who’s trying but can’t quite get through. As I said, it’s a common trope for television shows, but most break free of that mold fairly quickly, and I’m looking forward to that happening here, too.
So if you’re looking for an action show that you can just sit back and enjoy without having to overthink it (and particularly if you were a fan of previous shows like Burn Notice and Person of Interest), give The Equalizer a shot. It might be just what you’re looking for.
The Equalizer airs Sundays at 8/7c on CBS.