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So...where's T.H.E. CAT?


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#1 of 41 OFFLINE   Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted January 23 2008 - 12:22 PM

For years now, the 1966-67 half-hour adventure series, T.H.E. CAT, starring Robert Loggia, has been among my most-wanted vintage TV series that haven't yet been released on legit R1 DVD. However, my only actual experience with the show comes from reading about it (in reference books like HARRY & WALLY'S FAVORITE TV SHOWS, and Alex McNeil's TOTAL TELEVISION, and online resources like IMDB, TV.COM and Wikipedia), catching a quick clip from an old LATER...WITH BOB COSTAS interview with Robert Loggia, and seeing these two short opening sequences recently on YouTube:

Clip 1

and

Clip 2 (from episode 1: "To Kill a Priest")

Wow. Easily the coolest TV show I've never seen!

--Created (and sometimes written) by Harry Julian Fink, later the creator of "Dirty Harry".

--Produced (and sometimes directed) by Boris (father of Katie) Sagal, a prolific TV director, who also helmed THE OMEGA MAN (1971). Someone commenting at IMDB claims that Jacques Tourneur (CAT PEOPLE, OUT OF THE PAST, CURSE OF THE DEMON, ETC) directed an episode, but I can't confirm that.

--Super-cool music by the great Lalo Schifrin.

--Co-starring veteran character actor R. G. Armstrong.

Guest stars included:

Robert Duvall (twice!)
James Whitmore
Sally Kellerman
Caesar Romero
Victor Buono
Ted Knight
Jack Gilford
Sorrell "Boss Hogg" Brooke
Joseph "Dr. No" Wiseman
William Daniels
Richard "Oscar Goldman" Anderson
Gordon "WKRP" Jump
Barry "THE NIGHT STALKER" Atwater
Albert Salmi
Susan Oliver
John Dehner
Lloyd Bochner
Virginia Field
Joanna Moore
Signe Hasso
John Hoyt
Robert H. Harris
Warren Stevens
Diana Muldaur
Michael Constantine
Lynda Day George
Pert Kelton
H.M. Wynant
Theodore Marcuse
Diana Van der Vlis
Robert Emhardt
Deanna "LAND OF THE GIANTS" Lund
Stephan "ditto" Arngrim
Antoinette Bower
Ross Hagen
Matt Clark
Linda Cristal
Pippa Scott
Monte Landis
Norma "PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES" Bengell
Tisha Sterling
Reggie Nalder
Raphael Campos
Sam Melville
Yvonne Romain (twice)
Peter Mark Richman
etc

IMDB's T.H.E. CAT page

TV.com's T.H.E. CAT Episode Guide

Given that it's a color, half-hour action/adventure series (with a bit of cult cachet); stars a still-active, recognizable character actor, Robert Loggia, featured in (relatively) recent popular films & series (THE SOPRANOS, SCARFACE, BIG, INDEPENDANCE DAY, PRIZZI'S HONOR, etc); and features several popular actors (and many familiar faces) as guest stars, I'm surprised this hasn't already been considered for DVD release, or even some airings on TV LAND, AMERICAN LIFE, SLEUTH or ENCORE-MYSTERY.

The question is, who currently owns/controls the series? IMDB merely lists it as an NBC production, filmed at Paramount studios. Would it somehow be part of the NBC/Universal catalog, the product of another studio (Paramount? Desilu? Fox?), or was it an independent production? Did it revert to Harry Julian Fink and/or Boris Sagal?

The series lasted a single season of 26 half-hour episodes, all in color...seems like a perfect fit for b&w-hating, commitment-leary TV-on-DVD divisions of major Hollywood studios. A four-disc "Complete Series" collection (the size of a typical "split-season" release of an hour-long series), and it's done.

I know a couple of other regular posters here have T.H.E. CAT on their want lists, but are we the only ones?

My Current Damage at DVD Aficionado

Wanted in R1: UNEARTHLY STRANGER ('63) / IF I HAD A MILLION ('32) / THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK ('41) / IT CONQUERED THE WORLD ('56) / TERROR ABOARD ('33) / DANGER ROUTE ('68) / THE BLISS OF MRS. BLOSSOM ('68) / GUNN ('67) / ZOO IN BUDAPEST ('33) / THE SEA WOLF ('41) / DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS ('63, restored) / ALAKAZAM THE GREAT ('60) / DARKER THAN AMBER ('70) / THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME ('47) / CROSSWINDS ('51) / JIVARO ('54)

Wanted TV-on-DVD: T.H.E. CAT (1966-67) / SUSPICION (1957-58) / WAY OUT (1961) / ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR (1962-65) / PANIC! (1957-58) / CORONET BLUE (1965) / DRAGNET ('50s) / NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN (1968) / BUS STOP (1961-62) / THE WESTERNER (1960) / THE IMMORTAL (1970) / BLUE LIGHT (1966) / TERRIERS (2010) / THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1966)


#2 of 41 OFFLINE   Zardon

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Posted January 23 2008 - 05:19 PM

You forgot to mention that T.H.E. Cat stood for Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. That was his full name. Posted Image

I got a hold of and watched most of this series in my 1980s tape trading days. They were second-generation VHS copies but in OK condition. The show really wasn't that great...in fact it was rather average in my opinion.

T.H.E. Cat was supposed to be a cat burglar and former circus arielest, but instead he functions more like a spy.

The show fell into a rut as it sort of attempted to follow the typical mid 1960s espionage craze in terms of how it was presented. The ratings were a pretty good indication that few people were watching.

I have a lot of respect for Robert Loggia as an actor, but this (his second series) is one of the low points of his long career.

If you want to see a show about a thief who openly complains about working as a spy done right, check out "It Takes a Thief" with Robert Wagner. Now there is a show worthy of a long-overdue DVD release!

#3 of 41 OFFLINE   Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted January 23 2008 - 07:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zardon
You forgot to mention that T.H.E. Cat stood for Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. That was his full name. Posted Image

I let the man himself say it, in the second clip. Posted Image

Quote:
I got a hold of and watched most of this series in my 1980s tape trading days. They were second-generation VHS copies but in OK condition. The show really wasn't that great...in fact it was rather average in my opinion.

Do you recall the production company or studio in the end credits, or was it simply an "NBC production"?

Quote:
T.H.E. Cat was supposed to be a cat burglar and former circus arielest, but instead he functions more like a spy.

The show fell into a rut as it sort of attempted to follow the typical mid 1960s espionage craze in terms of how it was presented.

Actually, that's one of the prime reasons why I'm interested in the series. I love 1960s spy/quasi-spy stuff. And this seems to have a bit of a "pulp" quality to it (at least, the little I've seen so far), which is also a plus, in my book. Ruts in vintage TV series don't bother me much (there were few variations, episode-to-episode, in faves like the "Emma Peel" era of THE AVENGERS or THE WILD WILD WEST, for instance), especially in a short-run series like this.

Quote:
The ratings were a pretty good indication that few people were watching.

True, but irrelevant, in this case. POLICE SQUAD, MAN WITH A CAMERA, HONEY WEST, THE TIME TUNNEL and THE INVADERS weren't exactly ratings champions in their day, either. Doesn't seem to be an impediment to their DVD releases here in the 21st century.

Quote:
I have a lot of respect for Robert Loggia as an actor, but this (his second series) is one of the low points of his long career.

Similarly, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA was a low point for Richard Basehart's largely-distinguished career, though I often find it to be a reasonably entertaining show, in both good and bad ways (depending on the season and/or episode). I don't expect Shakespeare from something like T.H.E. CAT; just a tough guy tightrope-walking, knife-throwing and clobbering assorted goons for 25 minutes, in the name of justice and a cut check. Different courses for different horses, I guess.

Quote:
If you want to see a show about a thief who openly complains about working as a spy done right, check out "It Takes a Thief" with Robert Wagner. Now there is a show worthy of a long-overdue DVD release!

It's been many years since I've seen IT TAKES A THIEF; I recall it being watchable, but it didn't really grab me at the time (to me, Robert Wagner has always had a high smarm factor)... however, I might not have been "ready" for it, in the same way I wasn't "ready" to appreciate reruns of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (now there's a show that got into a rut, early on! Posted Image ) and THE UNTOUCHABLES, back in the 1970s/1980s, though I'm digging them both now. Definitely a show due for a Season 1 DVD release in R1. In fact, I thought Universal was supposed to do just that, several years ago, back when they announced DRAGNET, QUANTUM LEAP, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, MIAMI VICE, NIGHT GALLERY, etc. Wha hoppen?

My Current Damage at DVD Aficionado

Wanted in R1: UNEARTHLY STRANGER ('63) / IF I HAD A MILLION ('32) / THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK ('41) / IT CONQUERED THE WORLD ('56) / TERROR ABOARD ('33) / DANGER ROUTE ('68) / THE BLISS OF MRS. BLOSSOM ('68) / GUNN ('67) / ZOO IN BUDAPEST ('33) / THE SEA WOLF ('41) / DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS ('63, restored) / ALAKAZAM THE GREAT ('60) / DARKER THAN AMBER ('70) / THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME ('47) / CROSSWINDS ('51) / JIVARO ('54)

Wanted TV-on-DVD: T.H.E. CAT (1966-67) / SUSPICION (1957-58) / WAY OUT (1961) / ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR (1962-65) / PANIC! (1957-58) / CORONET BLUE (1965) / DRAGNET ('50s) / NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN (1968) / BUS STOP (1961-62) / THE WESTERNER (1960) / THE IMMORTAL (1970) / BLUE LIGHT (1966) / TERRIERS (2010) / THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1966)


#4 of 41 OFFLINE   michael_ks

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Posted January 24 2008 - 02:01 AM

Nice thread suggestion, Peter and a great expose on this cult classic. You really need to spend more time in the classic tv show threads. I see you have a great appreciation for the many great character actors that appeared in T.H.E. Cat--that's a big plus in my book! I fully agree that this show has a wonderful "pulp magazine" feel to it. The animated title sequence and Lalo Schifrin's cool title theme are first rate as well and so quintessentially 60s.

T.H.E. Cat is an exceptional show in my book, one the great forgotten gems from the silver age and a prime example of a series that was very prematurely cancelled for a second season (some other examples being "Man in A Suitcase" and "The Green Hornet"). Robert Loggia was perfectly cast and worked very hard to perform his own stunts for this show.

FYI, you needn't justify the merits of this series. You've just somewhat naively found yourself "feeding a troll" in a new guise, since Zardon = Jeff#. He may have been absent for a few months from the htf but he's evidently showing visible signs of "raining on parades" once more.

#5 of 41 OFFLINE   Bob Hug

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Posted January 24 2008 - 02:26 AM

I did a search at the U.S. Copyright Office and, indeed, the National Broadcasting Company, Inc. is the owner of the series, so an educated guess says its NBC/Universal as far as current rights are concerned.

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#6 of 41 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted January 24 2008 - 02:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by michael_ks
FYI, you needn't justify the merits of this series. You've just somewhat naively found yourself "feeding a troll" in a new guise, since Zardon = Jeff#. He may have been absent for a few months from the htf but he's evidently showing visible signs of "raining on parades" once more.


"Raining on parades" = a nicer way of describing thread-crapping, which a certain individual excels in. Funny thing, but if you look up his posts, of the thousands of posts he has made, he actually only started fewer than 5 threads. More fun for him to desecrate I suppose.

But, irritants aside, T.H.E. Cat is a great show. I loved it when it was on originally and I enjoyed it just as much seeing it in later years. The pilot episode is IMO one of the greatest pilots I've ever seen. And while the series itself doesn't match the high standard set, it is a highly entertaining and exciting show.

NBC does indeed have the copyright but the show was always syndicated by Republic which would now put it under the Paramount banner. I'm not really sure which of those 2 entities would control DVD rights.

#7 of 41 OFFLINE   Bob Hug

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Posted January 24 2008 - 04:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hank Dearborn
NBC does indeed have the copyright but the show was always syndicated by Republic which would now put it under the Paramount banner. I'm not really sure which of those 2 entities would control DVD rights.

I checked the Paramount Syndication Bible and didn't see "T.H.E. Cat" listed there but, then again, "The Invaders" (which Paramount is releasing) isn't listed either, so who knows?

#8 of 41 OFFLINE   Zardon

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Posted January 24 2008 - 04:11 AM

Oh, come on Mike and Hank. I didn't open attack on you guys. Let's keep it civil this time around. Giving a negative opinion on a TV SHOW (which I don't do that often anyway) shouldn't offend anyone who likes that show. Peter wasn't, so I suggest you both let it go.

I wasn't going to post again in this topic but you prompted me to. By the way, I had a lot of good things to say about other series but you seem to overlook those topics (Hawaii Five-O, Run for Your Life, etc).

#9 of 41 OFFLINE   michael_ks

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Posted January 24 2008 - 04:24 AM

Quote:
Giving a negative opinion on a TV SHOW (which I don't do that often anyway) shouldn't offend anyone who likes that show.

A quick review of Jeff# posts reveals otherwise.

Quote:
I wasn't going to post again in this topic but you prompted me to.

In all probability only because there's other game to stalk.

Quote:
Peter wasn't, so I suggest you both let it go.

The verdict is still out on that one. Peter spends considerably more time on the htf film thread.

#10 of 41 OFFLINE   Zardon

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Posted January 24 2008 - 04:35 AM

Mike....I'm not a "stalker" and that's not why I'm here. You're being silly to even suggest that.

Let's move on and not make this so personal. OK? Posted Image I didn't come back here to come under attack.

Peter enjoys T.H.E. Cat and I don't. So be it. Positive comments on TV shows we enjoy and occasional negative ones on those we don't. That's what makes forums interesting, when we can civilly agree to disagree on works of fiction.

#11 of 41 OFFLINE   progrocktv

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Posted January 24 2008 - 04:53 AM

I'd personally LOVE to see this series on DVD (in fact it's near the top of my list) One nice aspect about it is it was only a half-hour long, so the story would always (pardon the pun) cut to the chase, and was always nice if you wanted to see a "just-before-going-into-work quick action show" (and you've already seen all the Rat Patrol and first series Dangerman Posted Image
My current "obscurities" wishlist:
The Magician (Starring Bill Bixby)/ Project UFO/ Search (Probe)/ T.H.E. Cat/ It Takes a Thief/ My Mother the Car/ Man from Atlantis/ The Goodies (season sets R1)/ Hey Landlord!/Captain Nice/ Green Hornet/ '66 Batman (yea, right!  (WOO-HOO!!!)/

 


#12 of 41 OFFLINE   michael_ks

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Posted January 24 2008 - 05:42 AM

Quote:
I'd personally LOVE to see this series on DVD (in fact it's near the top of my list) One nice aspect about it is it was only a half-hour long, so the story would always (pardon the pun) cut to the chase, and was always nice if you wanted to see a "just-before-going-into-work quick action show" (and you've already seen all the Rat Patrol and first series Dangerman

This is one of the main reasons why I enjoy shows like "The Rifleman", "Have Gun Will Travel" and S1 of "Danger Man" so much. They work so well when one's schedule is rather tight. Back in the day they sure could fit some exceptionally plotted/character driven material within a span of 26 minutes, and T.H.E. Cat is no exception.

Excuse me now, I need to find myself a thread for a tv show I have absolutely no interest in so I may summarily inform its posters why it holds little redeeming value.

#13 of 41 OFFLINE   Cowboy

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Posted January 24 2008 - 08:07 AM

Years ago I bought T.h.e. Cat series on vhs at a film collector's show.
The episodes are direct from film and are uncut.Half of the episodes
are in color and half are in black and white.I was told then that at one
time in the eighties the show was on Canadian tv and Nbc only had
film masters available in half color/half b & w episodes.

#14 of 41 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted January 24 2008 - 10:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboy
Years ago I bought T.h.e. Cat series on vhs at a film collector's show.
The episodes are direct from film and are uncut.Half of the episodes
are in color and half are in black and white.I was told then that at one
time in the eighties the show was on Canadian tv and Nbc only had
film masters available in half color/half b & w episodes.


I've had them from film for many years. The ones I have a least came from private film collectors and I believe about a third of them are black and white prints. The ones that ran in Canada were all in color as I recall but they did not run the whole series and the prints they ran were completely red. Last time I spoke to someone at Paramount they didn't even have film elements on the series, only tape and who knows what those look like.

#15 of 41 OFFLINE   Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted January 24 2008 - 12:36 PM

Zardon/Jeff# response didn't offend me. I left things open for potential dissenters in the last line of my initial post. Besides, I'm a fairly mellow fellow; online byplay generally doesn't rile me (epecially when the topic at hand is an old TV show).

I am at a bit of a disadvantage, in that (unlike Zardon/Jeff#) I've never seen more than a few moments of T.H.E. CAT, but those fragments have me jazzed. Whether a viewing of full episodes would either amplify or alter my opinion, remains to be seen. Still, in addressing some of his points, logic and relevant analogues are always useful tools.

It is encouraging to read some more enthusiastic appraisals from Michael, Hank and Progrocktv/Phil. I'd be interested in hearing Bob Hug's and Cowboy/Robert's opinions on the merits and/or shortcomings of the show.

Right now, I get an impression of a generally pulpy/slightly-larger-than-life world in T.H.E. CAT, substituting a noir-ish sensibility for the usual pop art/camp approach taken by many series in 1966-67. Sort of PETER GUNN filtered through THE GREEN HORNET, with a bit less camp. If so, I now want to see the show even more than when I began typing this paragraph.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michael ks
Nice thread suggestion, Peter and a great expose on this cult classic. You really need to spend more time in the classic tv show threads. I see you have a great appreciation for the many great character actors that appeared in T.H.E. Cat--that's a big plus in my book!

Thanks, Michael. I'm here more often than you might think, even though I normally post less here than on the film board. And the character actors are a prime reason why I enjoy classic film and TV...and remember: it isn't officially a 1960s network TV drama series if Susan Oliver didn't make a guest appearance! Posted Image

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hank Dearborn
I've had them from film for many years. The ones I have a least came from private film collectors and I believe about a third of them are black and white prints. The ones that ran in Canada were all in color as I recall but they did not run the whole series and the prints they ran were completely red. Last time I spoke to someone at Paramount they didn't even have film elements on the series, only tape and who knows what those look like.

Uh-oh, that can't be good news... Posted Image

My Current Damage at DVD Aficionado

Wanted in R1: UNEARTHLY STRANGER ('63) / IF I HAD A MILLION ('32) / THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK ('41) / IT CONQUERED THE WORLD ('56) / TERROR ABOARD ('33) / DANGER ROUTE ('68) / THE BLISS OF MRS. BLOSSOM ('68) / GUNN ('67) / ZOO IN BUDAPEST ('33) / THE SEA WOLF ('41) / DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS ('63, restored) / ALAKAZAM THE GREAT ('60) / DARKER THAN AMBER ('70) / THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME ('47) / CROSSWINDS ('51) / JIVARO ('54)

Wanted TV-on-DVD: T.H.E. CAT (1966-67) / SUSPICION (1957-58) / WAY OUT (1961) / ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR (1962-65) / PANIC! (1957-58) / CORONET BLUE (1965) / DRAGNET ('50s) / NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN (1968) / BUS STOP (1961-62) / THE WESTERNER (1960) / THE IMMORTAL (1970) / BLUE LIGHT (1966) / TERRIERS (2010) / THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1966)


#16 of 41 OFFLINE   Zardon

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Posted January 24 2008 - 01:15 PM

All of the episodes I saw some 20 years ago were in original color form. They were from some UHF station that someone in my home state of New Jersey I used to know got from Texas. But I never wanted to save The C.A.T. Even if I had, I don't collect second generation copies. I got rid of my VHS deck for good when I bought my first DVD recorder about 5 years ago.

The reason I watched them all is because at that time I had actually become a fan of Robert Loggia from his co-starring with Tom Hanks in the movie "Big". Plus that same year I saw him in the Hawaii Five-O rerun "The Execution File".

If you look around you can probably find some collectors who have this show in color.

#17 of 41 OFFLINE   progrocktv

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Posted January 24 2008 - 02:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboy
.I was told then that at one
time in the eighties the show was on Canadian tv and Nbc only had
film masters available in half color/half b & w episodes.

That would be CKVR-TV in Canada. They used to play a TON of rare classic TV like "T.H.E Cat", "My Mother the Car" "The (70's) Bill Cosby Show" which thanks to them, are still floating around in some "trading circles" today. Back in my video trading days in the 80's when local TV channels actually showed something different in each state (unlike today where every channel is showing the same Friends, Seinfeld and Fraiser) we used to swap TV guides and trade off air recordings. CKVR was one of those "holy grail" stations in trading circles and if you were one of the few lucky ones able to find someone in Ontario willing to trade (who wasn't swamped with trades already) you had a gold mine for classic shows!
My current "obscurities" wishlist:
The Magician (Starring Bill Bixby)/ Project UFO/ Search (Probe)/ T.H.E. Cat/ It Takes a Thief/ My Mother the Car/ Man from Atlantis/ The Goodies (season sets R1)/ Hey Landlord!/Captain Nice/ Green Hornet/ '66 Batman (yea, right!  (WOO-HOO!!!)/

 


#18 of 41 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted January 24 2008 - 02:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by progrocktv
That would be CKVR-TV in Canada. They used to play a TON of rare classic TV like "T.H.E Cat", "My Mother the Car" "The (70's) Bill Cosby Show" which thanks to them, are still floating around in some "trading circles" today. Back in my video trading days in the 80's when local TV channels actually showed something different in each state (unlike today where every channel is showing the same Friends, Seinfeld and Fraiser) we used to swap TV guides and trade off air recordings. CKVR was one of those "holy grail" stations in trading circles and if you were one of the few lucky ones able to find someone in Ontario willing to trade (who wasn't swamped with trades already) you had a gold mine for classic shows!


But only in the summer. Other rare classic they ran include He and She and Dr. Kildare.

Another unique thing about T.H.E. Cat was the fascination it had with deformities, from the one-armed cop to many of the guest villains.

And yes Peter, a show had to have a guest shot by Susan Oliver, the most beautiful woman on 60s television. Not too many series of note didn't.

#19 of 41 OFFLINE   Henry V

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Posted January 24 2008 - 02:57 PM

This is a terrific, if short lived and rarely seen, TV series that has held up well due to it's moody film noir style and Robert Loggia's tough as nails portrayal of dagger throwing cat burglar Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. Loggia's characterization was probably the closest thing to Connery's no nonsense portrayal of the Bond character that small screen 60's TV ever saw. I'd love to see good prints of this come out on DVD as well, maybe one of the smaller companies like IMAGE might consider licensing and putting it out as they did with I SPY?

#20 of 41 OFFLINE   progrocktv

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Posted January 24 2008 - 03:13 PM

I remember Loggia was a guest on Johnny Carson back in the early 90's one night and was shocked when Johnny mentioned the show during the conversation. Loggia kind of perked up and said he was really surprised about the "cult" following the show still had.
My current "obscurities" wishlist:
The Magician (Starring Bill Bixby)/ Project UFO/ Search (Probe)/ T.H.E. Cat/ It Takes a Thief/ My Mother the Car/ Man from Atlantis/ The Goodies (season sets R1)/ Hey Landlord!/Captain Nice/ Green Hornet/ '66 Batman (yea, right!  (WOO-HOO!!!)/

 



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