Saturday, January 29, 2011

TV Jazz

This is just a quick note to let you know that the iconic TV detective series Peter Gunn was available on View Instantly. "Was" as in, not any more. They pulled it on 26 Jan. I guess I should have mentioned it before this...

Peter Gunn is of course most famous for Henry Mancini's stabbing theme song. But the whole series is soaking in 1950s jazz - Gunn hangs out at Mother's jazz club, where he meets his gal Edie, a chanteuse with the house combo. She sings a number about every other episode. Gunn's manhunts often lead him to other jazz or beatnik haunts, and there's the occasional guest star like drummer Shelly Manne. The series takes place in a city where the streets have San Francisco names (Post, Geary), but out of town is referred to as "across the river" - as if the locale is Greenwich Village in San Francisco.

Each episode is a neat little noir drama (or comedy, in some cases). Blake Edwards directs, adding little expressionist touches or classic glamor lighting to an otherwise set-bound low-budget series. Character actor Herschel Bernardi as harried Lt. Jacoby is a lot of fun too, as are the rest of the regulars. Billy Barty shows up a few times as a pool playing informant. All in all, more fun than you might expect.

You know what else they pulled off Instant on Jan 26th? Route 66. Their famous theme song was by Nelson Riddle. If you don't remember it, it featured Martin Miner and George Maharis as two young men bumming around the country in a 1960 'Vette. They stop along the way, have adventures and learn the meaning of "America". I only got to watch one episode before it got pulled off of View Instantly. The locations were lovely (Mississippi in the winter), especially compared to the stale backlot sets of Peter Gunn. The proto-hippy wandering youth thing was interesting, but I felt that the show was too long at 1 hour. Oh well, at least I got a chance to check it out.

So, why did Netflix pull these old TV series? This is one reason why I can't take streaming seriously as a replacement for DVDs-by-mail. Aside from the limited selection, the selection can disappear at any time. I want to watch what I want to watch, not what's currently "in stock".

1 comment:

Mythical Monkey said...

I forget which cable channel has been showing it, but I've been watching Peter Gunn off and on recently. Great stuff. My wife used the theme as her ringtone for a long time until the phone broke.

Actually, I've been watching a lot of old television on cable recently. Probably explains my corresponding dearth of blogging ...