Wednesday, March 07, 2007

“There’s an Old Polish Proverb that Says ...”

Wouldn’t you know it. I just bought all 17 episodes of the George Peppard series Banacek on DVD from the TV Addicts site, thinking I might never again see that 1972-1974 NBC series otherwise, only to now receive word that a superior version of Banacek--Season 1, is due for release in a two-disc set on May 15. According to TV Shows on DVD, this series will be the first offering in a TV Guide Presents ... line of DVD sets brought to market by New York-based Hart Sharp Video.

I was barely a teenager when Banacek hit the airwaves as part of the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie series, and I found myself envious of the oh-so-suave Boston insurance investigator Peppard played, a Polish-American with a bad haircut and mouthful of odd proverbs, who somehow managed to charm every woman he met--and still find time to locate missing armored cars full of gold bullion, vanished supercomputers, and football stars who disappeared from the playing field in full view of network cameras and a live audience.

Sure, Thomas Banacek’s ability to solve “impossible crimes” stretched (if not broke) the bounds of credibility; but he accomplished his assignments with such an air of self-confidence and casualness, in the process pissing off the tight-collared insurance company execs who put up with him because of his track record, that one delighted in watching to see what incredible solutions he could come up with in the end. If the series seems a wee bit dated in our post-women’s lib era (my wife, for one, rolls her eyes every time a fair damsel tries to throw herself at Banacek’s feet), it nonetheless remains watchable for its humor, unusual (at least for that time) Boston setting, elegant theme music (by Billy Goldenberg), and guest appearances by performers nearing the ends of their careers (Broderick Crawford, among them) or destined for greater stardom (such as Stefanie Powers and Linda Evans).

If this TV Guide Presents ... line can finally bring Peppard’s Banacek back before the public eye, maybe there’s hope yet for DVD releases of such under-appreciated crime classics as Banyon, Harry O, City of Angels, Switch, and even Tenafly.

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