swordznsorcery: (e street)
( Dec. 11th, 2015 19:26)
1994 was a big year for me. I went to university, and also got online for the first time. Access was a bit limited to begin with; they were still installing the equipment to properly get the place Netted up. But it was there. Instant communication with the entire world! Okay, okay - a little bit of it, mostly in other colleges. The internet was a lot smaller in those days! But communication, without that troublesome face-to-face nonsense. It was quite the revelation.

Lots happened before I got there though. My local area got turned on its head at the start of that year, when the Fred West saga was uncovered (literally). He'd been murdering young women for years, and burying them in his back garden. One of a number of jobs that I had that year was delivering newspapers, and I had strings of little old ladies sitting by their front doors every day, desperate for the latest bit of news! One of the victims, who had disappeared in 1973, was local, and they all remembered the search that went on for her at the time, in fields round about. That turned into quite the major story - and Gloucestershire was collectively most put out when Harold Shipman turned up a few years later, and Yorkshire stole the "home of the country's most prolific serial killer" title. Granted, it's generally held that West killed more people than was proven, but he's highly unlikely to have hit Shipman's total. Although, do we win on points for having a violent one, when Shipman did it all with a quiet voice and a syringe? A vital point of order, I think...

Happier news in South Africa! Nelson Mandela was elected President in this year, which was good to see. A long, long time coming. Good for two reasons. One, he was the best man for the job - and two, his amazing shirts instantly brightened up any gathering of international leaders. I loved those shirts.

Elsewhere though, it was one of those years. Pretty much anybody I'd ever watched on telly seemed to die in '94. George Peppard! Farewell, Hannibal Smith. Telly Savalas (so long Kojak). And whilst I'm on the subject of policemen - how'd I forget to mention Raymond Burr yesterday?! Cameron Mitchell, who had had a long film career, but who I remember best as good old Buck Cannon in The High Chaparral. And of course Roy Castle lost his cancer battle this year. Nick Cravat and Burt Lancaster both went in '94 as well - together until the end. And Kurt Cobain of course.

John Smith, the admittedly dull leader of the Labour Party, also died this year, very suddenly. I don't know if he would have stood much chance making Prime Minister come the next election (he really didn't seem to have a personality at all), but his death saddled us with Tony Blair. Heaven only knows what might have happened had he lived. Iraq? Afghanistan? It's hard to believe that he'd have gone down that route. But, inevitably, there's no way of knowing that now.

Good year for music. Britpop was well underway. Blur's third album and Oasis's first one both went stratospheric. Pulp's ninety-ninth (or whatever it was) finally made them stars. M People were gigantic for five minutes, and the Manics came out with the critically acclaimed The Holy Bible. Don't know that it was a big commercial success at that point, but it made their name as a band to watch out for.

Lots of big stuff from America as well. REM released Monster, with songs What's The Frequency, Kenneth? and Bang & Blame; Jeff Buckley released Grace, which featured the ubiquitous Hallelujah. Was there a TV show in the 90s that didn't feature that somewhere?! Arguably the big song of the year was Springsteen's Streets Of Philadelphia, from the previous year's film Philadelphia. It won just about everything going in '94 and '95 - and (far more importantly!) when he played it live at the Grammys, he did so with Max and Roy. The E Street Band was on its way back!

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swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Sep. 16th, 2014 21:06)
I think Kojak has ruined me for cop shows. I've been watching season one of Starsky & Hutch, and it keeps making me cringe. They're really, really terrible cops. Prettier than Kojak, maybe, but I know who I'd turn to in a jam. They don't follow proper police procedure. Their behaviour at crime scenes is appalling. And their gun control! Everybody in Starsky & Hutch has a cannon, and they blast them constantly, in all directions, without even the slightest attempt to aim. Fortunately the bad guys are all terrible shots, which helps no end, because neither Starsky nor Hutch shows any evidence of ever having handled a gun before.

The writing on Kojak is better too. Starsky & Hutch have a worrying amount of cases brought to them by their girlfriends; and no matter how serious the episode, it always ends with a tacked-on laughing scene, usually with everybody sitting around in Hutch's living room. Sometimes he even gets his guitar out, and they have a sing along as well as a laugh. It's a fun show, and in its way it's perfectly enjoyable, but the last three to five minutes are often best skipped.

Oh dear. I like the show really. As a fan of The A-Team, and goodness knows what else in the ridiculous violence genre, I shouldn't be having a problem with any of this. It's just the contrast with Kojak, I think. I've gone from careful, considered policing, and well-written, layered plots, to tyre-screeching nonsense with ridiculous shoot outs. I like ridiculous shoot outs! Kojak has made me sensible. I can only hope that it wears off soon.

Meanwhile, the seventies are continuing in their usual vein. Oh the joys of period decor. I don't think I've seen anything worse than on The Hardy Boys yet, but they're giving it their best shot:

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swordznsorcery: (paradox)
( Aug. 25th, 2014 19:30)
Interesting one here. A short film (twenty minutes), posted on the net by its creator. Legal films on the internet?! Whatever next! It's about a boy whose father yearns to be an astronaut, and it stars Siobhan Redmond (Between The Lines, The High Life, Bulman) and Emun Elliott (Paradox, The Paradise, Los Malvados (cough)). It's odd, but in a good way.

Mission from Phase VI on Vimeo.


In other news, I watched the pilot of Starsky & Hutch, possibly for the first time. It's strange watching it, as it's basically all the bits from the opening credits, strung together with a bit of plot. And the wrong music. And the wrong Captain Dobie. And Starsky's hair is much too short. Pilots are weird that way. Nothing could be quite so weird as the Bonanza pilot, but it's always odd watching a familiar series testing itself out. Like The A-Team, when Face has the wrong head, or Kojak, which doesn't have Crocker in it, or Babylon 5, where everything looks like it's made out of cardboard, and G'Kar is a completely different shape.

In other other news, it's wet. And cold. Make it stop being wet and cold please. Thank you.
Woe is me, for I have run out of Kojak. Bloody television, always ending. I think I might watch some Rockford Files next, partly because James Garner, and partly because I'm rather enjoying the seventies, and don't want to leave just yet. The paint is terrible, the wallpaper is worse, but all the same there's something welcoming about the seventies. Plots develop at a sensible pace, the editing isn't done by a crazed heroin addict, and there's absolutely no stupid wobble-cam or crash zooms. All of which serves to make me sound like a complete fuddy-duddy, but I don't care.

And I've run out of Kojak. I hate it when that happens. When you watch a show, you get used to the characters and enjoy their company; and then it ends and you have to move on to different people, when you'd rather still have the old. I'm going to miss Kojak. I'll miss Crocker and Stavros more, but I will miss Kojak too. He's such a pleasingly different sort of cop. For starters he's not a maverick. Oh, he's unconventional (what TV cop isn't?!), but he's a dyed in the wool teamplayer. No rushing off alone, no stupid solo ventures. I don't know if that was as much of a breath of fresh air in 1974 as it is now, but I've certainly enjoyed it. And it's all so entertainingly vintage. Kojak with his inkwell on his desk; and Crocker was wearing a brown tweed waistcoat with a pocket-watch today. Waistcoats with pocket-watches, people! That's proper dressing, that is. Although I'm amused by the idea that this naive young cop in 1974 should think so. He and Kojak really do appear to be sharing a wardrobe.

Must admit, for all that I've enjoyed the show, I do kind of wish it had ended sooner than it did, though. For the first couple of seasons it was something really, properly good, and genuinely different. Season three was good too, though it started to repeat itself a little. By season four it had become pretty generic, and audiences apparently began to jump ship. So, bizarrely, the producers revamped the show for season five, and turned it into a comedy. Who looks at a gritty, realistic (ish, shut up) police drama, and thinks "this needs more slapstick"?! It's the equivalent of adding sex and drugs to Tom & Jerry. One episode even has Liberace in it. Now, I like Liberace, don't get me wrong; but as a pianist, not as a guest star on Kojak. Characterisation got chucked out the window, too. For four years, Kojak enthusiastically displays his willingness to bite your head off if you so much look at Crocker a bit funny. Then in season five, Crocker gets kidnapped by an armed gang, and suddenly everybody's standing around making jokes, and not being at all bothered. And Kojak goes off for a chat about frozen yoghurt with Liberace. Yeuch. Still, I watched season one last, so it all ended on a high note. And there was Antonio Fargas and Paul Michael Glaser as guests (though not in the same episode), so that was nice. And now I'm going to shut up. And possibly hunt out some Starsky & Hutch on YouTube.

But I'd rather have more Kojak, damn it.


Here, have a wilfully funky seventies theme, with slightly wobbly titles FX. Everything is so polished nowadays. Sometimes I think they're rather missing the point.
swordznsorcery: (manolito)
( Aug. 14th, 2014 20:51)
So, I was watching Kojak, and who should turn up as a guest star but Henry Darrow. I knew he was in it somewhere, as I've seen it all before, but I can never remember which one he's in. And then suddenly there he was! This makes me happy. And he was very Manolito-like, except in modern clothes and without the suntan. So for those who are interested (ie: me), here is Manolito Montoya Henry Darrow being a jaunty jewel thief in New York, c. 1974. He's aged damned well, given that he's usually hanging around Arizona, c. 1870.



He's not quite as jaunty as usual here, as Kojak has just revealed a plan to use him as bait to catch a contract killer.



And here's Kojak, not looking at all impressed by the fact that he's standing right next to Manolito Montoya, damn it! You could at least smile, Theo.



A slightly happier jewel thief. The clothes look all wrong, even though I've seen him in modern things before. They killed him once in Hart To Hart, and that was in the seventies too. I was most unimpressed. And he was in Simon & Simon twice in the eighties. He just looks so very Mano here though. It was only just after The High Chaparral ended, which probably explains it. Mackadoo is clearly waiting just off camera for a quick getaway, as Buck lays down some covering fire.

*happy thoughts*
I should totally be a cop. Today's episode of Kojak had a young bloke dash down an alleyway in the middle of the night, and the police didn't get a proper look, so weren't sure who he was. He was clearly Erik Estrada. I kept telling them, but they wouldn't believe me. But then it was 1975, so presumably none of them had seen CHiPs yet. I am slightly concerned that I recognised him so easily, given that it was the briefest glimpse, and I haven't seen his show in thirty years, but I guess some things stay with you.

I'm having such fun with Kojak. The clothes are hilarious, the d├ęcor unsettling, the cars are all seven miles long, and look quite incapable of turning corners, and I keep recognising people, all looking much younger than they should be. Despite the frightening ties and waistcoats, the regular cast are all very good, and it manages to be admirably different from all the other cop shows on the telly. Or at least it does for the first few years. Kojak and Crocker are a particularly good double act, well suited to each other, and I especially appreciate the pacing. You get long, lingering shots of New York, and of Kojak arriving at the scenes of crimes, driving one-handed whilst drinking rubbish coffee from a plastic cup. The bad guys get nearly as much screen time as the good guys, so we know who everybody is, and their motives seem real. Sometimes chase scenes can go on for days. That's always good, as boy can Crocker run.

Sorry, I think this post was originally just going to be along the lines of "Kojak! Yay!" But I went on a bit. That's never happened before.

But still. Kojak! Yay! I do prefer Crocker and Stavros, if I'm honest, but that's not what the programme's called. Anyhow, if you have a spare hour, you could do worse than spend it in the company of the homicide department of Manhattan South. Just don't be expecting fabulous enlightenment in the gender equality stakes. Ouch.
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TV meme, shamelessly nicked from several people on my f-list. Behind a cut, because it's me, and I can't not waffle.

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