As with 'Bite of the Jackal', when I first recorded 'Proof Through the Night' from my local ITV region(s) in the mid-1990s, I kinda liked it but it got lost in the mass of first season greats. When Universal Playback released a few (seemingly random selected) episodes on VHS, as it still was then, a few years back now, I watched it again and warmed to it a great deal more. Watching it again now on DVD to review, I've decided that it is one of the most underrated episodes of 'Airwolf's run.
As with 'Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n', this one revolves around the Russians, which was still a big issue in the 1980s and used as the basis for episode plots of many action-adventure shows of the time. And this one does it very well, probably one of the best such examples I've seen in all my years of watching such shows.
It is often commented that by it's third season, 'Airwolf' often revolved around little more than settling family feuds, but 'Proof Through the Night' is an characteristic first season story that deals much more with international intrigue. (Yes, there actually is a family feud in this episode of sorts, between the defecting Moses and his brother-in-law, but it's all part of the plot and plays out perfectly).
There are so many good points about this episode, and I feel I enjoy it more now I have matured than when I was a youth, when pretty much all I wanted to see in an episode was crashes and explosions and maybe a fist-fight or two! I think the Russian setting was a little "cold" for me to like back then (which I think might be what puts some people off of this episode), but now I really like the story, I'd certainly take it over many of the "family feud of the week" third season stories (and I won't even MENTION the infamously bad Candadian fourth season).
Rick Lenz puts in a good performance as the defecting Vladimer Rostoff (codename Moses), who wants nothing but to secure peace between Russia and the U.S. Especially when considering he is actually an American, I really brought his performance here.
There are also some great Airwolf shots and aerial action in this episode. Most of the jet fighter shots are stock footage (as was often the case in the series), but there are another other great aerial sequences to excuse this fact.
One of my favourite scenes, of both this episode and the entire first season, is the sequence of Archangel sitting in his office, watching the red sunset which is drenching the room. It is lit perfectly, and really atmospheric.
(Speaking of Archangel's office, this is the first time in the show that we see the Firm headquarters, and get much more extensive views of the exterior than we would normally).
Looking through the first season rankings here on TV.com, I'm actually quite amazed to see that, at time of writing (February 2011), 'Proof Through the Night' is the lowest rated (with a still respectable 8.3). I find this surprising because I consider there to be far weaker episodes in the season – let us not mention 'Daddy's Gone a Hunt'n' (which I've already savaged in my review for that episode)!
As I say at the start of this review, I did not fully appreciate 'Proof Through the Night' when I first recorded the series (and the fact that, as so often was the case, LWT edited it for time, did not help my enjoyment any), but I've come to regard it now as a very strong, and severely underrated episode of the series. I've come to regard this episode so highly, that I give this it a very respectable 9.5.