Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
06.00 Notes From The Underbelly
06.30 The Unusuals
02.00 Barney Miller
Notes From The Underbelly. Season 2, Episode 4. "Not Without My Noodles"
"Women are crazy, men are wimps" is the underlying theme of this show, it seems. But, as off-putting as I find that, I have to say the show can be very funny. Sometimes.
This is a funny episode. There are two plots. One tied nicely into the premise of the show, and another one which could be used on any situation comedy.
The friendship between Lauren and Cooper (my favourite character, and the funniest character) shows major strains as Lauren gets more and more involved in the world of babies and all that lark. Rachael Harris and Jennifer Westfeldt are very funny (particularly Rachael Harris) and Leslie Grossman is a great guest star, as Cooper's spur-of-the-moment revenge-friend.
While all of that stuff is going on, Lauren's husband is involved in a plot that could be used on any sit-com: his friends (and series regulars) Julie and Eric hire him to work for them, which leads to all sorts of 'hilarious' conflict. This plot only really works if you buy the fact that Julie is flat-out crazy and Eric is too much of a wimp to assert himself and calm her down. It's fine. The best bit of this plot is the final seconds of it. A nice twist, and funny.
The Unusuals. Episode 8. "The Dentist" Alvarez is in charge when the precinct is robbed. Banks gives up on the outside world and decides to stay in his appartment full time.
Back on form. Jorge Zamacona's script is one of the best the show has used. Delahoy is side-lined (boo!) but this is still an A+ episode all the way. The two stories are superb and the writer knows how to present Alvarez and Banks in an interesting way and make us care about them.
The amazing David Costabile makes a very welcome guest appearence. This guy morphs from role to role so you really have to be alert to spot him. I hope somebody builds a TV around him soon.
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Kojak. Season 2, Episode 12. "The Best War in Town" Rookie Cop stumbles into the middle of mob hit, which leads Kojak and the squad into the middle of a complex war for territory.
Written by Burton Armus, and directed by Richard Donner, this is a truly superb episode of Kojak.
When you watch this you get three things: a strong story of a mob war, a strong character study of Theo Kojak, and character sketch on a guest character.
The plot involves what appears to be a turf war between two mob lieutenants, but - from the viewers perspective - is actually a clever outsider trying to play two factions against one another. We know this. But the detectives in the story have no reason to suspect it until the story is nearly over. Very enjoyable storytelling from start to finish.
Mark Shera guests as a young cadet, reporting for his first day in Kojak's squad room when he walks into the middle of a mob hit. He tries to help, but makes mistakes and an innocent woman is killed by the hitmen's getaway car. As the story unfolds we get to see his indecision over whether to remain with the police or not, as he battles with Kojak and battles with his mother and - in the end of the story - puts his life on the line to see justice done.
The character of Kojak dominates this episode as he investigates the mob way and deals with the young police cadet who wandered into the middle of the mess on his first day on the job. Kojak isn't particularly nice to him. In fact, he spends most of the episode treating the kid like an annoyance that must be dealt with. And when they do speak they tend to yell at one another. Some of these scenes (particularly the one in the young guy's apparement) are superb. Dramatic stuff at it's best. Telly Savalas blows everybody off the screen, of course, but Mark Shera does a damn fine job of standing toe to toe with him.
If you never saw Kojak before, this is a great place to start. When this hour is over, you will see him in all his glory, and with all his 'flaws' on display. If you watch this you will understand why I've loved this character since I was a kid. He's not going hard on the kid to make him a better cop, or anything like that, he's going hard on him because he made mistakes. And there's more to it than that. It's part of who Kojak is.
Barney Miller. Episode 12. "Hair" Scruffy new cop joins the squad, while Bernice shows up to check on Fish.
Another episode where the regulars cope with an outsider in their midst. Barney enforces the dress code, for instance, as means towards making the new guy conform. Turns out that under his big beard he sports a baby face.
Bernice, meanwhile, shows up (again) and we discover that Fish visited a massage parlour that afternoon.
It's a good solid episode. Nothing spectacular. Things take a very dramatic turn at the very end when two of the cops are injured in a shoot out. So, the flavour of the show is captured but not really showed off in all it's glory.
Highlight? Kojak (truly superb)
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