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Old 06-04-2020, 10:37 PM   #1
OceanBlue OceanBlue is offline
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Default The Equalizer (the original TV series)

Decided to start re-watching the original, classic The Equalizer TV series (the decision was made mainly because of the Equalizer revival series in the works).

Watching the Universal (also known at the time as Universal Playback or just Playback) UK DVD release of the first season (and then eventually will move onto Fabulous Films UK's DVD releases of the last three seasons).

The pilot episode had a rougher look to it compared to the episodes after (McCall has an American accent and his apartment is different to the one he has in the rest of the series).

In two scenes in the pilot, McCall meets each of his clients at a cafe (think he called it "The New York Cafe"). The location where they filmed those scenes, is it still there now?
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:26 AM   #2
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The Equalizer was one of the most underrated TV series of the '80's. As a kid, I caught a handful of episodes on network TV back in the day & was impressed by what I saw, but was never able to see much of it at the time.

A while back, I got re-interested in the series, and ended up watching all four seasons back-to-back. Wow....This show is incredible! I watch a lot of TV, and I would have to say that this is not only one of the top ten TV shows I've ever seen, but is definitely one of my top five BEST T.V. series of the '80's. The show is so good, it's hard to believe it was a network T.V. show.

The theme music by Stewart Copeland (former drummer for The Police) is sublime; amazing use of synthesizer(s) - though the sound is very '80's, it's also very edgy as well - i.e., the perfect instrumental music for a crime/espionage drama. The instrumental soundtrack in the show itself (also by Copeland) was also excellent.

Ed Woodward was incredible in this series; though some actors merely portray characters, Woodward WAS The Equalizer.

I liked how the show went back and forth between stories involving McCall helping those in need, to episodes involving his past coming back to haunt him, to episodes with (at the time) topical cold war themes.

Great supporting cast as well, including Mickey Kostmeyer, McCall's son Scott, Jimmy, Chad Redding, Control, Harley Gage, and others.

I was also very impressed with the show's themes of redemption/making up for past mistakes.

The show really captures the NYC of the '80's perfectly; watching the series is like going back in time, and it's nice that it was (or at least seemed to be) filmed on location in the city.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the copious amount of well-known guest stars on the show, including John Goodman, Stanley Tucci, E.G. Marshall, etc. Many of these became big later, but you also had appearances by Telly Savalas & Robert Mitchum, who were already big names by the mid-1980's.

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Old 06-06-2020, 02:28 AM   #3
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Though the first two seasons were great, IMHO Seasons 3 & 4 were incredible. There were so many stand-out episodes I can't list them all, but some of my favorite include the following - note this is by no means a comprehensive list:

Breakpoint (Season 1): IMHO, this was the best episode in the first season. Impressive acting here by Tony Shalhoub, whom I almost didn't recognize as the actor who became famous much later playing the detective Adrian Monk (Monk is another favorite show.)

Memories of Manon, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 2): Excellent.

Beyond Control (Season 2)

Blood and Wine, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 3): Incredible opening episode, and IMHO definitely one of the top five episodes of the series. Telly Savalas was truly incredible in this, playing a completely different role from the past. The theme(s) of redemption were very pronounced here.

Mission: McCall Parts 1 & 2 (Season 3): I consider this to have the quality of a small film; great appearance by Robert Mitchum.

The Mystery of Manon, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 3)

Christmas Presence (Season 3): Amazing; very moving & poignant.

The Last Campaign (Season 4): Excellent opening episode, and really set the tone for this superior final season...

Endgame (Season 4): Very disturbing & well-done; kept you guessing until the end.

Splinters (Season 4)

Silent Fury (Season 4): Extremely impressive.

Too bad the show didn't last longer; however, maybe it's best it ended in '89. In late '89 the Berlin Wall had fallen, and I'm not sure the cold war themes that were so central to the show would have been as relevant from 1990-on. Plus, by having the show go from '85-'89, it was a purely '80's show, which was very appropriate - since it's so entrenched in that era. And, four seasons is a very respectable length of time for a TV drama to last; in fact, the show was of such good quality that I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did (it seems that some of the best TV shows get cancelled after 1-2 seasons...)

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Old 06-06-2020, 05:25 PM   #4
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This is a great discussion of a beloved show. I've been meaning to pick up the complete series set of The Equalizer for some time now and will likely be going with the VEI release. Having grown up in the 80's, my dad and I used to watch this show together, along with Miami Vice (which I was not that big a fan of). It's a bit sad this series doesn't get any rotation within syndicated television these days. It'd be a decent addition for either the Heroes & Icons Channel, Antenna TV or MeTV. Edward Woodward was truly an outstanding actor.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:32 PM   #5
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What made the decision for me to start re-watching the show, was a repeat run on a channel here called Forces TV. It's on from Mondays to Fridays at 10pm (sometimes Mondays to Thursdays). I had a look at one of the first season episodes (they started showing the second season last week), about a vigilante who was impersonating the Equalizer, and the picture quality didn't look as good as in the Universal Playback DVD set.
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnamorphicWidescreen View Post
[Show spoiler]The Equalizer was one of the most underrated TV series of the '80's. As a kid, I caught a handful of episodes on network TV back in the day & was impressed by what I saw, but was never able to see much of it at the time.

A while back, I got re-interested in the series, and ended up watching all four seasons back-to-back. Wow....This show is incredible! I watch a lot of TV, and I would have to say that this is not only one of the top ten TV shows I've ever seen, but is definitely one of my top five BEST T.V. series of the '80's. The show is so good, it's hard to believe it was a network T.V. show.

The theme music by Stewart Copeland (former drummer for The Police) is sublime; amazing use of synthesizer(s) - though the sound is very '80's, it's also very edgy as well - i.e., the perfect instrumental music for a crime/espionage drama. The instrumental soundtrack in the show itself (also by Copeland) was also excellent.

Ed Woodward was incredible in this series; though some actors merely portray characters, Woodward WAS The Equalizer.

I liked how the show went back and forth between stories involving McCall helping those in need, to episodes involving his past coming back to haunt him, to episodes with (at the time) topical cold war themes.

Great supporting cast as well, including Mickey Kostmeyer, McCall's son Scott, Jimmy, Chad Redding, Control, Harley Gage, and others.

I was also very impressed with the show's themes of redemption/making up for past mistakes.

The show really captures the NYC of the '80's perfectly; watching the series is like going back in time, and it's nice that it was (or at least seemed to be) filmed on location in the city.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the copious amount of well-known guest stars on the show, including John Goodman, Stanley Tucci, E.G. Marshall, etc. Many of these became big later, but you also had appearances by Telly Savalas & Robert Mitchum, who were already big names by the mid-1980's.
I'll be keeping an extra eye out (or should I say 'ear'), for the music score in the second season especially. When I first watched The Equalizer on DVD, I noticed Stewart Copeland did the music score for the first season (and obviously he composed the theme tune, which technically stayed the same through the series. Although in the third season, some episodes had a shorter title sequence and theme tune), but in the second season I think Copeland's name was seen less as the music score artist for the episodes. By the time it got to someway through the third season, John Cacavas did the music score for the episodes (he definitely scored the majority of the episodes in the final season).

I always thought the opener to the third season, "Blood & Wine" had been filmed first that season, until last year or the year before, when I read that it was filmed at the end of the second season (apparently, after he returned to England after filming the double-length episode, he had a heart attack). I remember well that Edward Woodard (much missed) had a heart attack during the third season, and this led to him being seen barely in the two-parter "Mission: McCall" and Robert Mitchum and Richard Jordan were brought in to lessen the load for Woodward (with Jordan staying on for several more episodes afterwards). I also read that Telly Savalas was also brought into lessen the load for Woodward, but if "Blood & Wine" was filmed at the end of the second season, before he had the first of the two heart attacks, Telly Savalas wasn't brought in to help Woodward out (correct me if I'm wrong).

I found the third season the most fascinating, because of the production history. Apparently, there was some confusion over who was the Equalizer later on in the third season. Richard Jordan was brought on to help out while Woodward was recuperating (both on and offscreen). In his first few episodes after "Mission: McCall", he had a lot of scenes. Then towards the end of his run, when Edward Woodward was almost back to normal (*), he appeared in more scenes and Jordan less. Jordan's character Harley Gage wasn't written out (he was in the episode "Something Green", then in the next episode he wasn't (the first of two-parter "The Mystery of Manon").

(*) - I say "almost back to normal". What happened I think, was that Mickey Kostmayer (played by Keith Szarabajka) had more screen time as the series went back, and after Jordan left the series, Kostmayer did more of the legwork for McCall.

I wish someone would do a thorough, comprehensive reference book about The Equalizer. It deserves it.

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Old 06-09-2020, 04:09 AM   #7
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If you have a multi-region DVD player, it's probably worth buying the Region 2 EQUALIZER sets. Yes they're PAL but they do not suffer from assorted music replacements that the US (VEI) releases do.

There's a complete series set and individual season releases:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Equalizer-C...&s=dvd&sr=1-14

Until we get a full complete HD restoration it's probably the best way to go.
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Old 06-09-2020, 02:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMRI2006 View Post
If you have a multi-region DVD player, it's probably worth buying the Region 2 EQUALIZER sets. Yes they're PAL but they do not suffer from assorted music replacements that the US (VEI) releases do.

Until we get a full complete HD restoration it's probably the best way to go.
Yuppers, that's why I got that set. I'd rather have the original music.
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Old 06-09-2020, 10:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnamorphicWidescreen View Post
[Show spoiler]Though the first two seasons were great, IMHO Seasons 3 & 4 were incredible. There were so many stand-out episodes I can't list them all, but some of my favorite include the following - note this is by no means a comprehensive list:

Breakpoint (Season 1): IMHO, this was the best episode in the first season. Impressive acting here by Tony Shalhoub, whom I almost didn't recognize as the actor who became famous much later playing the detective Adrian Monk (Monk is another favorite show.)

Memories of Manon, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 2): Excellent.

Beyond Control (Season 2)

Blood and Wine, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 3): Incredible opening episode, and IMHO definitely one of the top five episodes of the series. Telly Savalas was truly incredible in this, playing a completely different role from the past. The theme(s) of redemption were very pronounced here.

Mission: McCall Parts 1 & 2 (Season 3): I consider this to have the quality of a small film; great appearance by Robert Mitchum.

The Mystery of Manon, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 3)

Christmas Presence (Season 3): Amazing; very moving & poignant.

The Last Campaign (Season 4): Excellent opening episode, and really set the tone for this superior final season...

Endgame (Season 4): Very disturbing & well-done; kept you guessing until the end.

Splinters (Season 4)

Silent Fury (Season 4): Extremely impressive.

Too bad the show didn't last longer; however, maybe it's best it ended in '89. In late '89 the Berlin Wall had fallen, and I'm not sure the cold war themes that were so central to the show would have been as relevant from 1990-on. Plus, by having the show go from '85-'89, it was a purely '80's show, which was very appropriate - since it's so entrenched in that era. And, four seasons is a very respectable length of time for a TV drama to last; in fact, the show was of such good quality that I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did (it seems that some of the best TV shows get cancelled after 1-2 seasons...)
The episode titles you mention (in the quoted post), the majority of them I remember from watching the DVDs for the first time. The others, the titles are familiar but I can't remember what they were about (although one of them hints at it being centred around one character, Beyond Control). Can't remember those last three fourth season episodes you like a lot.

I don't know how it's presented in the VEI set, but in Fabulous Films UK's third season set, "Blood & Wine" is presented (on the first disc) as a two-part story, but with the same episodic promo at the beginning of both parts, so I would say it was a feature-length season opener.

The fourth season, to me, had a doom and gloom feel to it. I think the episode which brings me to that description was an episode from the second half of the last season. I'm sure that at the time, The Equalizer was shown on ITV, Thursday nights at 9 pm. I wasn't feeling very well the night I watched this episode (it involved the deaths of homeless people, and one of the guest stars was William Atherton, who also guest-starred in "Blood & Wine").

Two of my favourite early episodes (both from the first season) were "Lady Cop" (Will Patton guest starred, along with an actress whose face I remember, but not her name) and the one about the vigilante who impersonated the Equalizer.

I thought I'd read somewhere that if the show hadn't been screwed around with in the fourth season (it was moved around the schedules), it could have had another season or two.

I think they're in Fabulous Films UK's fourth season DVD set, interviews with one of the show's creators and the actors who played Scott and Mickey Kostmayer. It's mentioned that (and I've put it in spoiler tags, in case people haven't seen the extra)
[Show spoiler]there was an idea of a crossover with the original Magnum, p.i. and The Equalizer, but the idea was dropped. I don't know how that would have worked. I couldn't imagine McCall in Hawaii.
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Old 06-10-2020, 03:00 PM   #10
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Great reviews of this amazing series, OceanBlue. I knew something was different about S03 & remember hearing that Woodward couldn't be as "physical" due to his health issues. However, if anything - IMHO S03-S04 were actually superior to the earlier ones. I think a lot of this is because the show had such a great ensemble cast, and wasn't focused only on The Equalizer - i.e., the supporting cast was very strong as well, and could pick up the slack when Woodward couldn't take center stage in the series.

The actress in Lady Cop (one of the strongest episodes in S01) was Karen Young. She's been in a lot of TV & movies over the years, including The Sopranos (another favorite series).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the elements that I really liked about this show was the time capsule of NYC in the '80's. I didn't grow up in NYC, but did visit (as a kid/teen) several times in the early-mid '80's. And, the "mean streets" of Manhattan (before they were cleaned up in the '90's-beyond) were very well depicted here. In fact, I would say the city in this era is as much of a character in the show as McCall, Kostmeyer, etc.

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Old 06-10-2020, 10:08 PM   #11
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The Equalizer had a repeat run in the UK on a channel which I loved (sadly it was closed a long time ago), Granada Plus. You have to have a good look these days on satellite TV for a good channel which doesn't show the same old shows on a never-ending loop (would love to see another show, similar in tone to The Equalizer, get a repeat run (it started in the States in the same season as the Equalizer's final season, the 1988-89 season), Midnight Caller. There also used to be a cult TV magazine over here called..Cult TV. I remember seeing the Granada Plus repeats in the TV listings section in the magazine.

Watched the first season episode "China Rain" last night. Keith Szarabajka debuted in this episode (as Kostmayer). I think the first few episodes in the season had a teaser before the title sequence. Thereafter, it was an episodic promo before the title sequence. Also, McCall had a different apartment in the pilot, compared to the rest of the series (he also had an American accent in the pilot). Did McCall have a pet cat in the series (in the pilot it looked like he had a pet dog)?

Through the series there were different detectives who worked with McCall. One of them later on was played by Charles Cioffi. But at the start of the series, you had Steven Williams (who would later play Mulder's contact Mr. X on The X-Files) playing the detective who worked with McCall.

There was another memorable recurring character who appeared on the show during the last two seasons I think. She had a cafe/bar which McCall frequently visited. Then all of a sudden she disappeared from the show with no explanation.
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Old 06-10-2020, 11:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnamorphicWidescreen View Post
Great reviews of this amazing series, OceanBlue. I knew something was different about S03 & remember hearing that Woodward couldn't be as "physical" due to his health issues. However, if anything - IMHO S03-S04 were actually superior to the earlier ones. I think a lot of this is because the show had such a great ensemble cast, and wasn't focused only on The Equalizer - i.e., the supporting cast was very strong as well, and could pick up the slack when Woodward couldn't take center stage in the series.

The actress in Lady Cop (one of the strongest episodes in S01) was Karen Young. She's been in a lot of TV & movies over the years, including The Sopranos (another favorite series).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the elements that I really liked about this show was the time capsule of NYC in the '80's. I didn't grow up in NYC, but did visit (as a kid/teen) in the '80's a couple of times. And, the "mean streets" of the city (before they were cleaned up in the '90'-beyond) were very well depicted here. In fact, I would say the city in this era is as much of a character in the show as McCall, Kostmeyer, etc.
That's her name, Karen Young. One film I knew she'd been in was Handgun (Network released it on DVD-only).

I believe the show was shot mostly on location in New York City (I don't think they shot on studio sets a lot). And I agree, the city was a character in itself (like how I see Chicago in Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med). I like seeing the changing seasons with a show shot on location in and around New York City and Chicago (especially with autumn and definitely winter). Obviously, the health and safety of the cast and crew was/is important, but I do like seeing the snowy, wintry scenes in The Equalizer and the Law & Order and Chicago shows.

Regarding music tracks heard in the show, in the episode "China Rain" two tracks were heard during a scene with McCall in a nightclub. I couldn't recognise them. Some good songs in the series, but the majority of them I wouldn't know what they are, or who they're by. From first watching the DVDs of The Equalizer, I do remember the duo Ashford & Simpson (who had a hit with Solid) appear in one episode, and a song by Aretha Franklin called Freedom of Love played in another episode.
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Old 06-11-2020, 03:09 AM   #13
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Good conversation on one of the best TV dramas ever made.

Re: the music in the series, I think I heard that the DVD sets had music replacements.....not of the instrumental music, but of some pop/rock songs (though I don't know which ones they were). However, while in most cases I would hate music replacements - in The Equalizer I honestly don't mind. This is because there isn't that much memorable pop/rock music in the show. The music in the show is mainly composed of the instrumental tracks. So, this doesn't bother me at all - though it would for almost any other series.

Re: KY, I still need to see Handgun.

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Old 06-11-2020, 10:45 PM   #14
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AnamorphicWidescreen, what you were saying the other day about the guest stars who appeared on the show, both those who were already established, and those who became famous years later. I remember well, an episode which Michael Rooker guest-starred in (the father of a family who were about to be evicted), along with Michael Parks (think it was just before he joined The Colbys, and years before he had a recurring role on Twin Peaks and years before starring in Death Wish V).
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Old 06-11-2020, 11:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
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AnamorphicWidescreen, what you were saying the other day about the guest stars who appeared on the show, both those who were already established, and those who became famous years later. I remember well, an episode which Michael Rooker guest-starred in (the father of a family who were about to be evicted), along with Michael Parks (think it was just before he joined The Colbys, and years before he had a recurring role on Twin Peaks and years before starring in Death Wish V).
Yes, both of these guys were great in the show. The late Michael Parks played a lot of convincing bad guys over the years. I especially liked his later roles in the Kevin Smith films "Red State" (2011) and "Tusk" (2014).

Here's an extended version of The Equalizer theme song - nice:


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Old 06-12-2020, 10:22 PM   #16
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The episode I watched last night, "The Defector", was my favourite episode so far. It had the best looking transfer out of the first three episodes (the show in general has that gritty, grey look, but it does still have colour in the transfer). Unlike the first two episodes, this started with an episodic promo, followed by the title sequence.

Actor Robert Joy guest-starred in this as a member of the company which Control is in charge of (he played the same character in a total of five episodes). There was a well-shot action sequence in "The Defector".
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Old 06-12-2020, 10:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
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There was another memorable recurring character who appeared on the show during the last two seasons I think. She had a cafe/bar which McCall frequently visited. Then all of a sudden she disappeared from the show with no explanation.
Following on from this quoted portion of an earlier post, have checked the IMDb, and the actor's name was Maureen Anderman. She guest-starred in the season one episode "The Lock Box" (playing a different character), before debuting as Pete O'Phelan in the third season episode "Christmas Presence" (last appearing in the season four opener "The Last Campaign").
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Old 06-12-2020, 11:53 PM   #18
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I used to love it back in the day.It's on at the moment in the UK and I have quite a few episodes saved.
I still love the theme tune.
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Old 06-13-2020, 12:48 AM   #19
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I used to love it back in the day.It's on at the moment in the UK and I have quite a few episodes saved.
I still love the theme tune.
The channel repeating it at the moment (Forces TV) was showing an early hours of the morning screening, as well at 10 pm. But they're now just showing it once a day in the 10 pm timeslot. Next Thursday I think, they're reaching the halfway point of the second season (the episode "Heartstrings").

I'm waiting to see if they show "Blood & Wine" as a feature-length episode or as a two-part version (if they do show the series beyond the second season), but I suspect it will be the latter.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:21 AM   #20
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I wonder how long it took to film The Equalizer's classic title sequence?
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