Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Boy wotta quandary! What do you do when you come up against something that all of the critics 'n snobs praise to the sky...y'know, the record albums, the moom pitchers or the musicals or whatever there is out there that martooni and olive types of people eat up to the point of vomitorium time, and you just happen to like the same snot as well? Well, you could feel embarrassed about it and act apologetic whilst in front of your pals who like the """really""" """""hip""""" stuff yer supposed to like, or you can just shaddup and keep your rather sick feelings to yourself. Or you can suck it up and just not be intimidated by what others think about your own tastes and artistic values just like you hold it in while the usual breed of manure minds make derogatory comments about your "lifestyle". Like Brad Kohler once said, "you don't have to hate the Marx Brothers just because Dick Cavett likes them!" But as for me well, I've always been needlessly self-conscious ever since I entered grade school (a traumatic experience I understand some children are lucky enough not to endure), so what would I do in this case...put down a certain item in order to present my more caustic side to the world or wax positively about it in order to prove that I can be just as shallow and trendoid as the usual inner circle of "right" opinions and "right" tastes nebbishes that we've been inundated with ever since the invention of the chattering classes oh so long ago?

Well, in the case of this long-lost legend at least I have Greg Prevost to fall back on, since he did an entire series rundown of JOHNNY STACCATO in the final ish of his long-gone and lamented OUTASITE fanzine and who can argue with that being a watermark of hotcha tastes! So hey, I can forget if that short lived series was a "critic's choice" as they used to say, because I don't have associate my tastes one iota with theirs in order to boost my own weak-kneed and flabby credo one bit! I can fall back on Prevost's stature and reputation instead, and if I'm gonna be a class "A" cop-out stick my finger to the wind to see which way it blows go with the flow kinda guy it better be Prevost's flow 'stead of some faceless En Why See snoot who don't believe anything unless he read it in THE VILLAGE VOICE or one of those new alternative weeklies that've been taking away that paper's steam for night on twenty years.

All funnin' aside, I gotta say that STACCATO was a series that got me hooked back when the Trio network was runnin' this one-season wonder a good decade back, and now that the entire series is within my pinkies (thanks to a Christmas present sent courtesy of who else but Kohler!) I can spin an episode or two whenever the pre-hippie boss jones hits me hard. And given the sick sack shape of television programming on all fronts these days the feeling hits me more often 'n not, so all I gotta say is why bother with THE SHIELD when I got a real wowzer of a tough guy program like this to eyeball?

You already know that John Cassavetes plays it nice'n ethnically greasy in these episodes as the piano playing private eye who jazzes it up at Waldo's (owned by Eduardo Cianelli, whom my father recognized whilst not knowing who Cassavetes was one iota!) while taking on cases or just getting the stuffing beat outta him whether he's on a case or not. Guess that comes with the profession, but despite being dragged through situations that would kill just about any normal human being Staccato comes out on top with that cool swagger and style that typifies what masculinity used to mean before all of those girly men types like Alan Alda began cluttering up the set. Adventure seekers and even sicko's'd do smart by picking this up in order to see the series of sordid capers and clear glass mazes Staccato finds himself in on a weekly basis, and (get this!), although the programmers hadda endure those "evil" and "censorial" "Standards and Practices" which were most certainly evident of a closed minded, racist culture, these episodes could get more creepier and sordid'n most of the cop/PI stuff seen on anything goes cable these days if you can believe it! Goes to show you that if you know how to work around a situation, you can have all the power in the world you so desire!

Nice ambiance and really boffo stories that work well even when they get into that social consciousness bag. Something which doesn't reek as much as it did in the seventies because in the late-fifties people were too naive to actually BELIEVE any of it. So when you see the episode about the Puerto Rican boxer the sentiments remain strictly pre-White Guilt Overload, and the one saga with Juano Hernandez as an old jazzbo caught up in a murder ain't gonna be bleedin' any white guilt outta ya like it woulda by the late-sixties. There's even a psychological thriller in the guise of "Solomon" where a flippoid Elisha Cook Jr. plays a lawyer out to defend an equally nutzo Cloris Leachman on a murder rap dragging Staccato right into the middle of it by asking him to do a li'l perjuring. Not only that, but you'll catch a whole load of stars both going up, down and stuck in neutral givin' it their all, like Michael Landon being able to make it through an entire production without whining, or Dean Stockwell as a slasher who's about to end it all early in the morn but gets talked out of it much to your dismay. Even Mary Tyler Moore pops up and boy does she come off like the bitch she reportedly is in real life...they even make her look so terrifying in that final scene where they give her the upward light shot like they did Rondo Hatton to the point where you wonder why you ever bothered having those dirty thoughts about her like you did back inna seventies!

Maybe the show only ran 27 episodes because Staccato became too punch drunk from all of those knockouts his noggin endured throughout the show's run. But at least these are up and runnin' for us boffo fans of Eisenhower/Kennedy-era programming that never seemed dated to me, mainly because I still believe that 1957-1966 was the prime era for everything on all fronts! And if you don't believe me like...ya deserve to exist (I won't say "live") in 2012. And man do I feel sorry for ya!

1 comment:

Wheez Von Klaw said...

Yes, this show is swank... I too, got turned on by it in Prevost's "Outtasite!" mag. Thanks for alerting me to this 3 disc set, Chris! I have seen most of 'em, but nice to have it all in one place. Love your tv tastes but there are a few good shows on cable-"Game of Thrones" ,"Boardwalk Empire", and "Walking Dead".... Sure, they're not "Highway Patrol"or "Amos n Andy", but what is?