The Cheaters: Complete Series – Review
By Sarah Morgan
“We need a new TV show, and quick – what would be a dynamic, exciting setting? I know – an insurance office!”
It may sound unlikely, but that’s the kind of conversation that must have gone on when British-based American producers Harry and Edward Danziger gathered together the biggest and brightest talents on their payroll for a brainstorming session.
Following the success of their series The Vise and its variously-named offshoots, they were looking around for their next project and settled on the idea of following the cases of an insurance investigator. The same theme was later used to much better effect in the classic 1964 B-movie Smokescreen, with Peter Vaughan delivering a charismatic performance as the pedant sent to investigate a mysterious death in Brighton.
In The Cheaters, imported Hollywood star John Ireland heads the cast as John Hunter and looks so disinterested in the whole affair, it makes you suspect he was only in it for the money. Ireland had received an Oscar nomination for his role in 1949’s All the King’s Men, but by the time he received a call from the Danzigers, his best years were mostly behind him.
Also included in the cast is Robert Ayres as Hunter’s no-nonsense boss.
Maybe most of the budget went on hiring Ireland too, because the sets are sparse and uninspiring, with little in the way of location work.
On the plus side, there are some decent stories written by good writers, including Brian Clemens, who would go on to find fame with The Avengers. Blackmailing pensioners, sneaky thieves and dirty low-down double-crossers are among the delights in store for viewers, all enlivened by a jazzy score from Bill LeSage.
Look out too for some very familiar faces in guest starring roles, including Paul Eddington, Peter Butterworth, Jill Ireland (no relation to John) and Francis Matthews.
Each episode lasts just 25 or so minutes, and all 39 of those produced have been dusted down for this new four-disc Blu-ray set.
‘The Cheaters’ is released on Blu-ray by Network, £35