Sunday, January 10, 2010

The mean streets of San Francisco

I remember The Streets of San Francisco being on the television when I was young, but I've not seen it as an adult, so I was looking forward to the box set I received for Christmas.

So far, I've just watched the pilot episode. Robert Wagner is the guest star, playing a flashy young lawyer who is implicated in the murder of a young woman, whose body is washed up on the shore and who looks to have been killed on his boat. Of course, this won't be the only time Wagner will find himself connected with a suspicious watery death, but that is all in the future, along with Hart to Hart.

Not quite as good as Ironside (although I didn't like that much at all at first), it has got off to a promising start.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Christmas Crime

Sadly two weeks off for the festive period did not provide the opportunity for detective watching that I would have hoped. ITV celebrated with a string of Midsomer Murders but I’d seen them before.

My Christmas viewing consisted of just:
  • 1 episode of The Perry Mason Mysteries which are the lame franchise where Perry Mason isn’t actually in it, but his sidekicks are. The main character was what my mum described as “a man who bursts into opera every now and then” who turned out to be Paul who was in one season of Law & Order.
  • 1 episode of Murder She Wrote, which was a concept episode just narrated by Jessica Fletcher. Actually, it was probably better than the ones with her in and it featured a poodle.
  • 1 episode of Monk where it is revealed that Natalie is from a wealthy toothpaste dynasty.

In terms of presents, I did much better with the first series of Kojak and The Streets of San Francisco being under the tree for me.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

An Observation

Ironside eats a lot of chilli.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ironside Weekend Part 2

Sunday's continuation of the Ironside-fest saw another three episodes watched.

The Macabre Mr Micawber
A rich man is murdered and the only witness seems to be a mynah bird, who of course can talk. So the bad guys attempt to steal him back to stop him blabbing all. Burgess Meredith, best known as the Penguin was in this episode was a downtrodden servant, perhaps one bird too many. Eve's splendid grey and orange striped dress made a reappearance.

Side Pocket
A young pool hustler finds himself working for a gangster in order to pay off his brother's debt. Ironside steps in to save him from this life. The famous pool hustler he beats is played by the man my OH recognised as Grandpa Joe from Charlie and The Chocoloate Factory. Otherwise I found it a rather dull episode - I don't like plots that involve gambling or any kind of addiction. I did some ironing while this one was on - as the OH pointed out I was appropriately ironing to the side.

Sargeant Mike
This episode looked like it was going to be a repeat of the bird episode, but with a dog instead, but it turned out the the dog didn't witness anything, although his owner did. Besides a rather beautiful German Shepherd, the tally of guest stars was added to with Bill Bixby. He was alot smaller than I remembered, although perhaps I was confusing his stature with his alter ego, The Hulk.

Six episodes in two days. Not too bad going but we still have a backlog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ironside Weekend Part 1

The second season of Ironside is currently showing on Quest, and I've allowed rather a lot of episodes to pile up on our SkyPlus system. So I'm attempting to get through them this weekend.

Price Tag Death
An ex-cop who is living on the street, contacts Ironside when a fellow homeless man is murdered. The killing is soon linked with a forgery of cheques, but what follows is somewhat bizarre. While the team try to track down the forger-killer, we see him going around cashing fake cheques, buying expensive suits and dancing in yet another portrayal of a psychedelic nightclub. For reasons I didn't quite grasp, in order to cash the cheques, he was buying a huge amount of groceries and they were able to nab him by finding some of the 96 bags of shopping he'd bought in a few days (clearly he wasn't shopping at Waitrose!). The club scene introduced another great 60s band "The Poor" (following my discovery of The Hook in the "Trip to Hashbury" episode".

An Obvious Case of Guilt
An ex-girlfriend of Ironside is accused of murdering her husband, but the evidence suggest she has been framed. A tense plot, reminiscent of a Hitchcock film, but lacking the psychedelic weirdness of the previous one. Eve has umpteen outfit changes in this episode for no particular reason.

Eve is shot while buying a birthday present for Ironside. The episode moves back and forwards between her in hospital and the other characters remembering when they first met her, and she went from being a society girl to joining the police. Some great outfits from Eve here, including a beautiful pink suit and a brown, orange, yellow patterned dress that was remarkably similar to our lounge curtains in the 1970s.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kojak and the Little Man in the Corner

On my trawl through the week's schedule looking for things to record, I found a lone episode of Kojak on ITV in the middle of the night/very early morning depending on your perspective.

I watched it last night and it transpired it was one of those shows with a person doing sign-language in the corner of the screen (or the Little Man as my niece used to call this service). At first I wondered if it might be a distraction, but as the episode progressed, I actually began to enjoy watching the Little Man's actions along with the drama.

There were some tense silent scenes where the man just stood there rather at a loss, but in other places, seeing his facial expressions and hand movements actually added to the drama. I don't know sign-language, but having paid attention to this, I can see why a someone who is deaf would prefer this to subtitles - his interpretations clearly expressed the tone of voice being used, which subtitles can't do.

Obviously as a big fan of Kojak, I'm glad that it is being made accessible to a wide audience, but I do wonder if there is any logic to it? Has the bald Greek detective been found to be particularly popular amongst the deaf community? I would love to think so, although I rather suspect it might just be that they sign programmes in these unsociable timeslots.

Vincent - A Beginners Guide to Detectiving

I recorded an episode of Vincent, knowing little more about it other than it featured a team of private investigators.

It turned out to be a 2005 programme starring Ray Winstone. Had I known that I might not have recorded it. I like Ray Winstone, but find a little of him goes a long way. Suranne Jones is also in it - I've met her in real-life (she wouldn't remember because it wasn't a particularly memorable event and she was drunk) and she is actually alot prettier than she looks on television as her face is often contorted in scenes of Northern misery.

The episode (which I find out later is the last one of the first series) could be divided into two distinct parts. For the first part, the team are hired to follow a man whose wife believes he is cheating on her. What we see is very much the nuts and bolts of how you go about spying on someone, which with my long-harboured desire to be a detective, I found fascinating.

Then the plot takes a turn, and the woman the husband was cheating with, becomes the focus of the investigation, requiring Vincent to go undercover to seduce her. It came more pyschological and switches to being a guide to what not to do as a detective, namely get yourself personally involved with suspect. This part involved Ray Winstone being very Ray Winstone, and lots of agonising face-twisting from Suranne. But I was gripped, and then hugely disappointed to find it wasn't on again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Early Spelling: Honey West

I have mixed feelings about Aaron Spelling. On one hand I do love Charlies Angels (circa Farah Fawcett) and thought I might one day marry Jonathan Hart, but generally I don't like how the type of shows he produced (such as T J Hooker) came to dominate television in the 70s and 80s. The style is formulaic, action-packed, with storylines that fit neatly into their 40 minute or so time slot, with no depth. Spelling didn't produce them all, but he was probably the godfather of that genre that replaced grittier shows like Ironside and Kojak.

But having said all of this, I'm quite pleased at having just discovered one of Spelling's first shows, Honey West. There was just one series of 30 episodes made showing in 1965 to 1966. The show is black and white, has those Spelling trademark plots, but is possibly one of the first shows to feature a feisty independent female lead and was probably rather remarkable when it was first shown. Honey runs a detective agency with her less interesting male friend, who there are appears to be a will they/won't they type of relationship (in the style of Remingston Steele). She drives a sports car (rather like Penelope Pitstop!) and she owns a pet ocelot called Bruce (the only detective to do so, to my knowledge).

I've just watched two episodes and so far her investigations seem to involve rescuing less feisty heiress and actresses from the evil schemes of men. Besides the ocelot, there is a good dose of quirkiness to the show, and some amusing dialogue such as when Honey was rescued by her male associate and she asks him how he knew where to find her, and he replies "I'd already looked everywhere else".
So its easy on the brain but sometimes that is good. It makes a change from the utter misery-fest of SVU.