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Category:    Home > Reviews > Detective > Mystery > Crime > Drama > TV > Brilliant But Cancelled - Crime Dramas

Brilliant But Cancelled – Crime Dramas


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C+



The Brilliant But Cancelled DVD series continues with a compilation of four Crime Dramas of interest.  To show how ambitious and smart Universal Television (and its Revue unit) were, they had many shows that were hits, some really good ones that did not last (Kolchak and Ghost Story) and a few others that are less known.  That is why a good disc like this is a plus.  This single DVD features the following shows of interest:


Johnny Staccato was John Cassavetes’ short-lived detective show that was not bad, but a little formulaic.  He was a contract player at Universal for a time and many of you know that he later helped to father independent filmmaking in the U.S. and remained a big star until his death.  However, he was in good form here and Elizabeth Montgomery is the guest star in Tempted.  She is great and the series only ran from 1959 to 1960.


Each writer at Universal TV got a chance to juggle a TV show and while future Sopranos creator David Chase was story editor for Kolchak (1974 to 1975, reviewed elsewhere on this site) future Hill Street Blues co-creator Michael Kozoll (with Steven Bochco) did the same for Delvecchio.  A forerunner of Hill Street in many ways, Judd Hirsch played the title character, a cop with a difference.  Licensed To Kill has him investigating the supposed suicide of a young girl he knows and the doctor (John Hillerman, best known as Higgins from Magnum, P.I.) who may or may not know what happened to her.  This show is outstanding and of al the shows here, this one is so strong that new prints of al the single-season episodes should be struck and issued in a DVD box set like Kolchak, which Kozoll also wrote for.  This is a real gem!


Gideon Oliver was the best chance Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. had of a big hit after An Officer & A Gentleman, playing an anthropology professor who starts to help out with murder cases.  As when I saw it in its original debut, small mistakes added up to hurting the show’s potential, but Gossett was very good in the role and in different hands, this would have been a big hit.


Touching Evil is an episode of the U.S. version of the big hit U.K. show (reviewed in its entirety elsewhere on this site) and co-produced by Bruce Willis and The Hughes Brothers.  K is the simple title of this show, as the OSC crime unit goes after the toughest cases.  The U.S. version here just threw out too many good things about the British series in its attempt at Americanization.  An interesting miss overall.


The 1.33 X 1 image varies from show to show, with Johnny Staccato in crisp black and white, Delvecchio looking duller than Kolchak: The Night Stalker despite being a similar Universal production technically (same type of film stocks, color processing) two years earlier, then the latter two shows being mixed in color and definition.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono only varies slightly, remarkably and there are no extras.  Too bad there was not at least episode guide and history text on each show.  It should not be assumed the Internet is adequate for such information.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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