After a frustratingly long four year wait, fans of The Saint can finally see the Adam Rayner and Eliza Dushku pilot which was hoped to return Simon Templar to our TV screens.
Sadly the show was never picked up and, despite being reworked as a standalone TV Movie, complete with new prologue and ending and some re-edits, the pilot has been languishing in the vaults unseen.
21st Century Fox has released an 88 minute version as a digital download which is available from iTunes, BT TV, TalkTalk TV Store and other VOD stores.
Saint fans will likely think nothing of paying the £8 asking price but before doing so should note that the late Sir Roger Moore has markedly less screen time than he does in the long ago released trailer – literally just a few seconds.
This scaled down role is seemingly the consequence of the producers’ decision not to leave any dangling plot lines but while it tidies up the release and allows the story to come to a reasonably satisfying end, it will disappoint fans hoping to see more of Sir Roger.
So what do you get for your money?
Instead of Moore, there’s a lot of TV’s second Saint, Ian Ogilvy who provides the story’s evil mastermind, and plenty of glamour as Simon spans the globe in a hunt for a kidnapped heiress while dodging the attention of various law enforcement officers.
The show is reasonably stylish though, as with the original series, most of the overseas settings rely on stock footage for establishing shots, with the credits implying that the bulk of filming actually took place in Bucharest.
Rayner’s stuntman-like Templar is closer to Val Kilmer’s big screen version than Moore or Ogilvy’s and the inevitable high tech gadgets are also reminiscent of the 1997 movie.
Dushku provides a very modern pseudo love interest as Patricia Holm, a character who appeared in the books as Templar’s on-again, off-again girlfriend and partner who shares a number of his adventures.
The story is a little patchy and disjointed – almost inevitably so given the on-off nature of the production.
Adding to the slightly unfinished feel is the music score which is virtually non-existent save for a rather thin reworking of Leslie Charteris’ Saint theme tune and some library cues.
But despite this, the episode offers some uncomplicated, good humoured fun very much in the spirit or the earlier TV incarcerations and provides a welcome break from the often depressive and angsty heroes of modern TV.
By the time the final credits rolled I was disappointed the hoped-for series never materialised.
As Moore says in the trailer but, sadly not in the completed release, the world always needs a saint, and hopefully one day TV executives will realise the truth of this statement…