The Saint (2013) Promo Review
By Matthew C. Engel
The sacred and familiar stick figure, adorned with it’s saintly halo, materializes out of the darkness, mused on by the strong bass notes of a long missed theme - finally after decades patient waiting, the first glimpses into the rebirth of our beloved character, The Saint, are revealed. This highly anticipated return has been hampered for years, with false starts and fallen-through deals. But now there is undeniable proof that Simon Templar is making a strong bid for a return to the small screen. But is this Templar, this re-imagining of a nearly 90 year old treasure, all we’d hoped it would be? From the snippets we’ve been afforded in today’s promo; perhaps.
In the first few seconds we see new hero, Adam Rayner, as Simon Templar intertwined with dialogue and smooth cut action. The Saint theme is bumping and it has an unfortunate remenicence to the ‘97 Orbital version, but undeterred, the action is keeping us going. Templar sliding around, throwing punches, being debonair; loving every minute. We’re introduced to Patricia Holm (Eliza Dushku), we briefly see her in action, and now its full-on into the promo. New faces are introduced, old faces return, hints of plot are strewn throughout and a couple of flashbacks are seen. I’ve watched it, through. And then again, twice, to make sure I’m not being fooled (April Fools!) and it looks solid. At first.
Going back for a few more views, I’m liking most of the actions scenes, some are over the top, breaching on bad US cable TV stuff. But it’s all pretty cinematic and it’s the Saint so I can forgive some of the stuff I felt was off. Unfortunately, for me, the drama of it, Holm’s introduction, Simon and Patricia’s interactions, lacked serious chemistry. Eliza seemed to be phoning in some sort of Gabrielle Anwar from Burn Notice persona and the interactions I did see between her and Adam Rayner reminded me what I don’t like about Holmes and Watson on Elementary. As Holmes Miller seems like a loafing lunatic and Liu plays Watson like a smarmy, snarky know it all who overrides the need for Holmes sometimes. I’m feeling a similar ‘we’re together the sake of entertaining tv and not because our characters have any mutual need for support in each other’ from these brief interaction and I hope these were just bad selects chosen by the promo editor. But, is that a curse of this type of show? To just have a man and a woman together for some good sexual friction but no actual character development beyond occasional sex and the possibility their might be love there? Someone please tell me. Simon Templar is not sex machine seeking love! But alas I try to forgive and tell myself, no, they wouldn’t do that, this is the Saint, and it’s only a promo.
Taking the promo as a whole, there was a gloss about what I saw. It tended to seem tailor made, Pinesol’d to a lemony-shine, for USA or TNT television, and if that’s their (the producer’s) goal in selling to America, then good work, you’ve got another generic thriller-action-drama in the can. I think I was hoping for a more BBC Sherlock, or AMC Mad Men feel than a Hawaii 5-O, soaking in the sun tan line. The Saint is a sophisticated character with strong character complexities that could be fleshed out, I just hope the show creators haven’t pigeon holed The Saint into a formulaic American drama. That would be a slap in the face to all that came before. But before I slide into slander, there is evidence in this promo that they haven’t done this but I need to see more to be sure.
Speaking of Pigeon-holing, why is every reboot or revamp a bloody exploration of why someone is who they are. I don’t want The Saint Begins, I want the Saint as he’s always been, a mysterious stranger with a kind heart and some strong fists. It could set itself up for strong failure in the eyes of long standing fans if this new show meddles too much with the source material, and unintentionally, could really botch things. Thankfully, The Saint (2013) appears to be using Templar’s past as a catalyst to keep him moving and may never reveal anything more than just vagaries, which would be excellent. I like Doctor Who because he’s bloody Doctor Who? You hang on for those little bits of nothing they reveal about him and I hope thats the plan with The Saint. Because, if I find out he was just a maladjusted kid who decided to do go straight and help people at some point I might lose faith and interest in this character.
Ok, so am I being a bit hard? Maybe. But no one grew up to be an interesting multilayered individual by having a silver spoon in their mouth, being loved by everyone, and never working a day in their lives. But let me rephrase. This promo even for my misgivings, aforementioned, was brilliant. You can’t wait this long for something you love and not be blown away, unless it’s Star Wars The Phantom Menace, that was just a pile of shit. I’m excited for this show, and for any of the things I felt were lacking there were 3 more things I thought were excellent.
“Come on, Fernack! Three Guns? You only have two hands!’ Adam Rayner really comes live in the sequence and I loved it. The father luring Templar to steal a ring so he could ask the Saint to save his daughter, that’s Charteris right there. Rayt Marius! Getting more awesome. Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy, ok done, somebody give me a smoke. (Ian Ogilvy’s uncle, David, the advertising entrepreneur, was also a spy in the US for the BSC with Roald Dahl during WWII. The more you know!!). Even Inspector Fernack, pronouncing ‘Templar’ like an annoying American was good. I miss Claude Eustace. And like I mentioned, there is some great action here, and I don’t really have any doubts about Adam Rayner in the role. His supporting cast may need some polishing up. But if this is what they are playing out of the gate, it’s an amazing start to something that could be great. I want to see this on TV and hope, fingers crossed, we eventually get to see more episodes.
So, as I put on all of the Visual Effects estimates I send out, ‘This bid is subject to revision upon review of final rough cuts.’ My thoughts, thought they don’t need much, may drastically change on the above after seeing the real deal and I hope they do. I really want this show to succeed and I have a good feeling it may! Good Luck, Simon Templar. ‘The world needs a Saint.’
P.S. Drop the Orbital-style Saint Theme, please! It was fine for 1997, but it’s 2013. If you have to, get Edwin Astley out of the grave and have him work with the likes of The Hidden Orchestra, or the Cinematic Orchestra. Techno is dead.