Series / The Persuaders!

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • World of Pun: Led by the German dub.
  • 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.