Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Beast is Unleashed, plus Happiness is a Warm Gunn

Well-a well-a I'm-a havin' uh, nervous breakdown...

Not really, but it has been a hectic few days so far, running around the Antelope Valley doing things I'd rather not have to do, just to keep the wheels turning. And of course it's always fun to have an excuse to drop a few Eddie Cochran lyrics.

And all that running around finally ended and freed up enough time for me to do what I've really wanted to do for what seems like weeks-- get that damn white whale of a web site's latest issue done.

Yes, the new issue of THE THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE is, finally, belatedly and with much apology to all concerned, up. Amends will be made.

The Divine Ms. Sarah Weinman (I hear she might have a blog somewhere) makes her Thrilling debut with "Out of Clay," which introduces a new gumshoe with a hell of a partner, Mike MacLean's ethics-free P.I. makes us all feel dirty all over again in "Little Sins,", we present our annual Christmas Gift Guide (now about as useless as tits on a bull, as my dad would say, but still, hopefully entertaining, and last but not least, we gird our loins, cry havoc and let loose the Annual Cheap Thrill Awards, where we salute the best (and kneecap the worst) of P.I. fiction in 2005.

There will be daily updates for a while, as well, so keep an eye peeled...(And I've NEVER understood that phrase. Doesn't it sound REALLY painful?)

But anyway, to mark the occasion, we had a decent supper last night (shrimp scampi and pasta) and later just lay in bed snuggling, me and She, while the desert wind blew and the coyotes howled, watching -- get ready for it -- episodes of PETER GUNN. (And thank you to NetFlix for making it possible.)

A few days back, I blogged about how ROCKFORD was the greatest P.I. TV show ever (and I'll stand by that, except on the days I'm in a HARRY-O mood), but PETER GUNN is definitely number three, not just because it had a great theme or was very influential (Hell, the dreadfully uneven and gimmicky 77 SUNSET STRIP was also vastly influential).

No, what really makes PETER GUNN is the way it had its own style, some truly great characters and some incredibly tight writing (Mind you, with only a half hour to tell a tale, it had to).

Style? Let's not beat around the bush. Craig Stevens, as Gunn, was about as GQ as you got on television in those days. The original sharp-dressed P.I.

Lord knows I wouldn't know fashion if it came up and spit on my shoe, but even I noticed that Gunn always looked good, stylish but not showy, always well-tailored in a buttoned-down-but-don't-mess-with-me air that was just right for hangin' around all those jazzbo clubs.

Okay, maybe it wasn't cutting edge make your brain bleed jazz, but still there was something undeniably and really COOL about PETER GUNN. Before that, P.I.'s were just not that cool on TV. Oh, they tried (Richard Diamond had a car phone) and the boys at 77 Sunset hung around Dino's, but they simply had no style. I mean, MARTIN KANE? BOSTON BLACKIE? Ralph "Snooze Alarm" Bellamy in MAN AGAINST CRIME? Definitely not cool. But Peter Gunn was -- in spades.

And he had one of the best girlfriends any P.I. ever had: sweet, smart, sexy Edie Hart, the chick crooner at Mother's, Pete's favourite jazz haunt. In early shows, admittedly, Edie was a bit of a drip, a cloying "marry me, marry me, let's have kids" type, but she soon evolved. Playful, flirty -- but never dumb -- it was clear to anyone that Pete and Edie were "together" and enjoying an adult relationship. (And a rare, Edie-less show which had Pete looking at another woman drew severe -- and instant -- condemnation from D.L. -- that's how likable Edie was).

Also surprising for the era was how violent it could be. People were hurt in this show, quickly and brutally at times -- occasionally even by Pete. These streets (wherever they were supposed to be -- LA? New York? Pittsburgh?) were actually mean. The plots? Surprisingly clever, with twists that assumed viewers were paying attention, compared to other detective shows of the time (I mean, how much writing did it take for Kookie to comb his hair?).

There are (so far) two two-disk collections of Gunn released on DVD. We've only watched one disk -- and the others just moved way up on our NetFlix queue.

Next time: The Tragically Hip, Springsteen, Marlowe's Guide to Life and some other stuff I haven't thought of yet.


Blogger Dave White said...

BRRUUUCCCCEEEEE. (and while we're at it, spice it up with a little Jovi as well.)

Love the new issue and of course I love reading up on people's thoughts on the Thrillies.

3:05 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger J. Kingston Pierce said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:35 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger J. Kingston Pierce said...

And when the hell is HARRY-O going to appear on DVD? I just received THE ROCKFORD FILES, Season One, for Christmas. But it's been even longer since I last saw David Janssen doing the P.I. routine. I could sure use a fix.

Great work you're doing here, Kevin. I'm pleased to see that you have finally graced us with your blogging presence, though I should warn you that blogging can be a REAL time consumer.

5:36 PM, January 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having recently seen about twenty-five Harry O's, thanks to a nostalgia cable channel no longer available in my area, I regret to report that the show that seemed so terrific in my youth I no longer consider to be in the same league with either Rockford or Peter Gunn. (Or The Outsider, or Ten-Speed and Brown Shoe, for that matter.) It's got too much heart, folks. The plots are full of Seventies sincerity. The series lightens a bit when it moves from San Diego to Santa Monica and Anthony Zerbe, playing the local top cop, snarls away some of the sentimentality. Farrah Fawcett being the flighty next door stewardess adds a Travis McGee touch to the mix, but Rockford wouldn't have put up with her for a second.

10:53 PM, January 29, 2006  

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