Crime Time

October 3, 2011

Okay, loyal readers, it’s time to fire up the television set . . . .

. . . . slam a fresh U-matic cassette into your VTR machine . . . .

. . . . and settle back into your most comfortable plastic-covered recliner.

Because, for no special reason other than that I finally carved out a couple of weeks for some binge-viewing and a lot of them were on top of the pile, much my output for the rest of this year will be focused on an array of crime dramas from the seventies.

(So if you don’t like those, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.  Sorry!)

This excursion into retrograde crime-fighting will take the form of criticism, DVD reviews, interviews and other sidebars, goofy throwaways, and anything else I can come up with to provide a little variety.

Taken as a whole, the glut of police and private eye shows that cluttered the airwaves in the seventies aren’t as good as many of the older dramas that I’ve often written about here.  They challenge or transcend the limitations of genre less frequently than the best crime shows of the sixties or of this century.  But many of them are a lot of fun and, more to the point, many of them are new to me.  So I hope you’ll join me on my bell-bottomed journey through through Watergate-era violence, mayhem, and skullduggery.

Stay, as they say, tuned.

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6 Responses to “Crime Time”

  1. Tony Says:

    My favourite Rockford Files answering machine message: “I don’t talk to machines!” Slam!


  2. The Rockford Files sort of did transcend the wasteland of 70s cop shows.

  3. MDH Says:

    Sounds fun, Stephen, can’t wait. I have a real soft spot for these shows, even though most of them get real formulaic real fast (I’m looking at you, MANNIX). Hope you can work some HARRY O episodes in, even though they’re not yet on (legit, legal-like) DVD; it did its fair share of transcending, too.

  4. Stephen Bowie Says:

    No Harry O in this round … I watched the first season when it ran on the American Life channel, but I’m hoping Warner Archive will release the show before I come back to the second. The few Howard Rodman-scripted episodes are brilliant, but I found the rest pretty disposable, at least by comparison. Although Janssen keeps it constantly watchable, just as James Garner does whenever The Rockford Files is coasting through a mediocre Juanita Bartlett script.


  5. Stephen, though Rodman created the series and the Orwell character, he is actually credited with scripting just two episodes, one of which is just a repurposed version of the excellent original pilot, “Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On.” I personally find “Harry O” to be a seriously underrated show, and even some of the later, post-San Diego episodes are, in my humble opinion, worth watching if you get a chance. One of my favorites is “Exercise in Fatality,” with the great Ralph Meeker as a cop who hires Harry to track down his missing daughter, a pregnant teenage addict whom Meeker had kicked out of the house. Dark stuff!

  6. Toby O'Brien Says:

    Really looking forward to this theme, especially the “throwaways”. Those little items can be a lot of fun!


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