Turn on the TV, open the first page of the newspapers, read your Twitter feed. All you see is a terrorist attack here and there, with graphic images of wounded bodies around and extremists unleashing fear all over the world. Now, try to find some escape in fiction: you’ll find TV series dealing with drug kingpins, war lords and a blood shed every second, either from the hero or the villain.
This is, precisely, why we need more heroes like Simon Templar.
Popularized by the late Roger Moore in the 1960s, and based on Leslie Charteris’ literary character, The Saint was unique in many aspects. A contrast to today’s heroes or anti-heroes, Simon Templar didn’t seem to be pleased with violence, even when he carried weapons and didn’t think twice before delivering a high sounding punch to an assailant's face, but he clearly hadn’t a taste for blood.
Back in the old black and white episodes, Templar started straightly talking to de audience: about women, about a country, about fashion, about work. In a world where everyone seems to be locked on his on shell and no-one cares about other problems than their own problems, wasn’t it great that the protagonist talked to you right as the show started? In a beautiful act of empathy, Simon invited you to his world of intrigue and you were a part of the story.
Moreover, The Saint didn’t work for any intelligence agency or military force. He didn’t have rules and was just a high-class thieve. Following his hunch, he got into problems nobody asked him to. Once again, in a world where few people deeply cares about someone else’s problems, wasn’t it great someone who risked nothing more than his life just to help a honest man? Of course, most of the times it was a beautiful girl -and that had its perks for Simon- but anyway, we live in a time where relationships with the opposite sex also lack depth. And Templar was gentlemanly enough to care for a helpless lady or a damsel in distress beyond her looks and based on her honesty. Mind you, he would also surrender her to the police if she ended up being the mastermind, as it happened in many episodes, but always with the respect a lady deserves!
Then, there is the style. Most of today’s heroes are proud to show their muscles on tight t-shirts or intimate with a woman in very graphic sexual moments. In the case of Templar, he barely got to kiss the girl (even tough he was clearly a womanizer) and he felt more proud of his wits than his muscles. He was, in every aspect, a hero respectful to the audience and the other fictional characters surrounding him. In most situations, he is wearing an impeccable grey or blue suit, fur overcoats or maybe a sweater or black polo shirts, but always attired in style.
The Saint excelled on his sense of humor. He always had a killing one-liner to say to his enemies after defeating them, or to the persistent Inspector Teal who was anxious to find him with the cup on his lips. No matter how cruel or dangerous the situation, his sense of humor was the best weapon he had. No need to say how we need this in places where we hear gratuitous verbal and physical aggression everywhere – celebrities, journalists or even heads of state using Twitter to fight each other.
All these, of course, may seem very idealistic. Today’s world is less happier tan what it was in 1962 – it’s more dramatic, aggressive and tough in most humane aspects. Simon Templar -at least as Roger Moore played him- as no place in this world. But… what if we give him a place?
What if The Saint is rebooted one day and they make it closer to the 1960s show? Wouldn’t it be revolutionary, in a way? A good answer to all the TV series empowering drug lords or corrupt politicians, and a classy answer to today’s harsh world that seems to get replicated in the fictions we watch?
This “sinner” world needs, more than ever, a saint.