Series / The Persuaders!

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The Persuaders! is a 1971 comedy/adventure series starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore.

Lord Brett Sinclair, a British gentleman and aristocrat and Danny Wilde, a Nouveau Riche American Self-Made Man, are a pair of Brilliant, but Lazy playboys. Thanks to the machinations of ex-judge Fulton who wants to give their lives a new sense of purpose, they wind up as best friends and rivals who go on various adventures and take on criminal cases on an odd-job basis. Much of the humor of the series comes from the witty banter between the two characters as they constantly criticize each other's habits and lifestyle.

While the series did only moderately well on the home British/American market (which should not be too much of a surprise, considering that the main characters are based on their blatant national stereotypes) it has done significantly better abroad, and is widely remembered and cited in many European countries; most notable is it success in Germany, where the dialogues were rewritten more than they were translated, with much more Breaking the Fourth Wall and the likes, essentially making it into a different series entirely.

The Persuaders! provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 555: One Girl of the Week is given such a number to contact Brett with so she can give him evidence against her Bad Boss. Bonus points for it connecting to a phone in London, not somewhere in the US, as would be the rule for this trope.
  • Badass Grandpa: Judge Fulton, though usually a Non-Action Guy, at one point manages to disarm and briefly fend off a trained killer tasked with silencing him.
  • Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: An episode involves a crucial piece of evidence that the culprit couldn't work the will to destroy, despite his henchman's urging: A gift by Adolf Hitler himself for helping the defeat and surrender of France.
  • Cold War: Almost a given, considering the series' premise and the time period it's set in. Several episodes deal with espionage, treason and fifth columnists working for the various factions on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
  • Cool Car: Danny Wilde drives a red left-hand-drive Ferrari Dino 246 GT (chassis number 00810). Brett Sinclair drives a UK-registered Bahama Yellow right-hand-drive Aston Martin DBS (chassis number DBS/5636/R) with V8 wheels and markings. Both cars were provided to the show's producers courtesy of the respective vehicle manufacturers.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The target of one episode, taking the form of a filthy-rich Bad Boss who, according to Judge Fulton, uses his various criminal activities to keep his legal company running.
  • Costume Porn: The clothes of Lord Brett Sinclair were selected with greatest care by Roger Moore himself. The more dynamic style of Danny Wilde's fashion, featuring leather jackets, flares and scarfs, had its finger on the pulse of the 70's and led to Curtis' being voted "Best Dressed Man" of 1970.
  • Double Date: Brett and Danny have one set up at one point (with identical twins named Jean and Joan), but circumstances prevent Danny from showing in time. Brett tries to entertain them while he stalls for time, but they eventually ditch him in the disco he invited them to. They try again after the case of the week is solved, only for the twins to ditch Brett and Danny - again.
  • Drink Order: No particular one for either, but several very fancy ones show up, frequently with arguing over seemingly-quibbling details of the recipe.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Played for Laughs in the very beginning of the 3rd episode, "Take Seven"; Brett has put on his regalia as an Earl since he is about to attend the opening of parliament, much to the amusement of Danny.
  • Excited Show Title!
  • Gag Dub: Thanks to Rainer Brandt, the German dub borders on this and became a much bigger hit than the original.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Lord Brett Sinclair.
  • Girl of the Week
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Danny and Brett, obviously.
  • Hidden Depths: Chivers, the butler in the episode "Read and Destroy", is old, portly, slightly senile, not the fastest guy on the field and generally a completely harmless bloke... until he suddenly pops up out of nowhere to hold an armed spy at gunpoint that was threatening Brett and Danny. He later ups the ante even further by revealing his criminal past including his impressive lockpicking skills, which come in very handy to resolve the case of the week.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: With a healthy dose of Karmic Death - the Big Bad of the episode "A Death in the Family" gets blown to kingdom come by the very bomb he himself had planted before to cover his tracks.
  • Honey Trap: Brett falls victim to one in "The Morning After".
  • The Load: Combine this with The Klutz, The Scrappy and Dirty Coward, and you get Archibald Sinclair-Beachum, a distant cousin of Brett's who makes an appearance as a supporting character in "The Middle Man". Although he does have a scant few moments of usefulness in the episode, the best that can be said about him is that he doesn't show up again. Brett actually seems quite happy when Archy eventually gets sent on what amounts to a suicide mission (he survives of course, and to add insult to injury, he even makes off with the Girl of the Week in the end).
  • MacGuffin: Several, ususally connected to the various Cold War espionage affairs Brett and Danny get involved in.
  • Mistaken Identity: Happens disturbingly often to both protagonists, usually in a variation of Mistaken for Spies.
  • No Fourth Wall: The German dub is famous for doing this, with Danny in particular standing out. In one episode, after Brett had just made an especially lame pun, Danny tells him to stop talking like that lest the ZDF (the German TV channel that dubbed and aired the series) cancel the whole show. On another occasion he tells him to talk faster to avoid de-syncing his dub, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Punny Name: When combined with Bilingual Bonus - the commander of a USAF base is one Colonel Joe Adler. "Adler" is German for "eagle", which brings up numerous associations with the Air Force.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: One episode had the formula of a perfect, easy-to-manifacture substitute for gasoil as the MacGuffin. For obvious reasons, it could not be made public at the end of the episode if they didn't want to Tone Shift into a 20 Minutes into the Future show, so they contrived elements so that burning the formula seemed a virtuous, reasonable thing to do for the heroes. (It isn't convincing at all, though.)
  • Redubbing: In order to increase the popularity of the show in English-speaking countries, the dialog style of the German dub was applied to the English version in some broadcasts, though it is the original version that has been released on DVD.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Even in the opening titles, Sinclair is Blue and Wilde is Red.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Lord Brett Sinclair, obviously, although it takes some persuasion on the part of Judge Fulton to get him there.
  • Running Gag: Brett has a habit of regaling others with lengthy tales about his many, many, many ancestors, usually to his involuntary listeners' exasperation.
  • Self-Made Man: Danny Wilde is said to have "earned and spent away" several considerable fortunes.
  • Sexy Stewardess: Brett Sinclair's own private flight attendants were also obviously hired for their looks and their, er, friendliness.
  • Soft Glass: Nobody ever gets hurt by glass shards, no matter how many windows people punch in or get thrown through. Partly justified for Danny, however, as he's almost always wearing leather gloves as part of his outfits.
  • Suspect Existence Failure: Subverted in an episode where Brett's relatives are being murdered: all the suspects die... then it's revealed that one of them was actually the murderer, and faked his death because he knew that would clear him.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Every other episode has Danny, Brett or both come home just to find themselves held at gunpoint by some goons that snuck in through the front door. It quite often happens while they're at home already, too, at least once even by someone utilizing the clichéd credit card trick. Considering the level of international affairs they regularly get involved in, the two of them should really invest in some better door locks.
  • The '70s: In all their glory.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Invoked as the reason for the eventual destruction of the synthetic gasoline formula mentioned under Reed Richards Is Useless. Also a case of Honor Before Reason on the part of the person who did it, considering she was willing and able to let both the East and the West profit from what could've and would've altered history as we know it (and might've brought the Cold War to an abrupt end twenty years earlier). Alas, the inventor was her father and wanted the formula destroyed as his Dying Wish, so...
  • They Fight Crime!
  • Tone Shift: The Persuaders! as seen by American and British audiences is a relatively serious series, with a light-hearted side provided by the main characters, but not centered on comedy. Rainer Brandt's famous German dub, however, turned it into a wacky, pun-laden comedy.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: In episode "A Death in the Family", which is a tribute to Kind Hearts and Coronets, Roger Moore plays three members of his usual character's family, including a woman. This is Lampshaded at the end when Danny Wilde's aunt arrives, played by... Tony Curtis.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Half of Danny's and Brett's dialogue consists of hurling good-natured insults at each other.
  • World of Pun: Led by the German dub.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Most episodes have women as part of the bad guys' lineup, many of which start whaling on Danny and Brett when the inevitable final brawl gets going, but neither of our protagonists ever lifts a finger against them. The worst they get is being shoved onto a couch/bed/chair and told to stay put while the men duke it out. However, there are occasions where Brett pressures women for information and, when he doesn't get them fast enough, resorts to unspecified yet clearly sincere threats. It's never shown if or how he went through with it, though.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In an episode, Danny Wilde manages to recruit an actor impersonating a dead millionaire by warning him of what might happen when his employers don't need to hide the millionaire's death anymore.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/ThePersuaders