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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Frank Soyke, Mar 7, 2011.
I am familiar with Video Beat.
More sad news. Robert Conrad has died at 84.
Shit. That leaves Arlene Howell, Diane McBain, Doug Mossman (Moke), Connie Stevens and Jacqueline Beer from the four shows. Shitty.
.....and Robert Logan...
Bourbon Street Beat
Having not watched this series when it first aired so many years ago, I have now seen / written about enough episodes to cast my now adult-sized opinion of this show. By no estimate did BSB ever achieve 77 Sunset Strip cult-like status for two reasons: Cast and setting.
The stars of BSB (Andrew Duggan, Richard Long, Van Williams, Arlene Howell) never quite gelled into a cohesive, compatible unit that engendered excitement from its audience (me). Richard Long and Andrew Duggan were already TV/film veterans and seemingly in it to mark time until their next assignments. Van Williams, a poster boy for the image of a 50's-60's young hunk, was frightfully underserved as a character in the show (only to make significant headway later in Surfside 6). As I've mentioned before, Arlene Howell--the necessary female component of these sorts of WB series, unfortunately exuded the sexual aura of a walnut--a very small, flickering flame in comparison to Jacqueline Beer, Connie Stevens or Diane McBain.
And never underestimate the impact that a Kookie, Roscoe or Cha Cha O'Brien-like character brings to the show. BSB sorely needed one.
In terms of setting, 77SS had the enduring mystique of Los Angeles. Kids like me just assumed that LA was the center of the universe of cool--heck, it's where everything took place on TV. BSB's New Orleans, certainly an exciting city in its own right, was too one-dimensional for the era. Mardi Gras was its sole claim to fame. BSB scriptwriters, directors and producers far underutilized all the aspects that the Big Easy could have brought to the forefront (food, culture, voodoo, the ole South) that could have sparked better scripts.
At the end of the day I still enjoy watching BSB, but it will never rise to the level of 77 SS in my journal of memories. I have several more episodes to write about, so don't think I'm now leaving BSB out in the cold. After all, this was the lead-off (but least successful) of the WB private eye series to follow.
Opinions are welcomed.
While I generally agree that it never could or would reach 77 highs, I thought some of the shows had a darker, rougher edge to them, a noirish feel. I liked Richard Long and thought Andrew Duggan was quite good. Van Williams was underutilized and essentially a throw away character. I wouldn't give you a nickel for Howell. The stripper sometime girlfriend of Duggan was a nice touch.
Thanks, Russ, for your discussions of this show. While I think I like the show more than you do, I agree that it had some glaring problems. I think the fundamental problem was the specific location they chose, Bourbon Street.
The French Quarter is one of the few places I've visited outside California, and I can attest that Bourbon Street, like the Sunset Strip of that time, crackles with energy and excitement. The problem is that, unlike the Strip, they couldn't portray Bourbon Street honestly on television in 1959, because it is one big, randy, R-rated adult playground. And the Old Absinthe House is right in the midst of all that.
But most of the time, the neighborhood of the offices seems about as exciting as downtown Verdugo City on Monday night.
If they'd placed Cal and Rex's digs on Jackson Square, they could have portrayed the vibe there as accurately as they did the Strip, without having to pull punches, and they could have used the Café du Monde, an all-hours open-air coffee-and-beignets place, as one of their hangouts.
Another huge error, of course, was in the character played by Arlene Howell. They take a voluptuous beauty queen and try to make her a chaste, naive debutatnte. Poor Arlene was given a role that was impossible for her to play credibly, especially since they did their best to downplay her natural beauty.
I don't know why they didn't do the obvious thing and make her character like the one she played so delightfully in 77 Sunset Strip S1E3 "A Nice Social Evening." That, or give the part to Mary Tyler Moore, who would have been believable in it.
And yes, they gave very little for Van Williams to do in his role; perhaps they were afraid of making him too big a star too fast, and didn't want to have another actor stage a holdout for more money.
But I loved Cal and Rex's characters. And I have to love any show that has Nita Talbot in it, period. She is always a boon to everything she appears in. The idea that laconic straight-arrow Cal has such a girlfriend says a great deal about the part of Cal that we are not shown, and it also says a lot about New Orleans' overall easygoing attitudes.
I think it can be seen, starting in about the tenth episode, that the show-runners were taking steps to fix things. They started giving Van Williams more and more to do, and they began giving Arlene Howell's character more depth, even making her the center of the 20th episode, "Melody in Diamonds." I think she does well in it, but it was too late, and they wrote her out after the 26th episode.
Then the Writer's Guild strike happened, and BSB was hit hard. Unlike 77SS, which managed to get by with only four W. Hermanos episodes, BSB had ten of them. While I think one of them in particular, E32 "Suitable for Framing," was an excellent reworking of a 77SS script, S1E8 "The Well-Selected Frame," I have heard reports from those who watched the show in the original run that it was the W. Hermanos episodes that killed the show in the ratings.
But as I say, I think I like the show much more than you do, Russ. I would say, offhand, that about half the episodes are pretty good, and I think that if they had taken more assertive steps to improve the show they probably could have gotten another season or two out of it. The two steps that come to mind are vastly expanding Van Williams' role to mirror what they did with it in SurfSide 6, and making Nita Talbot's Lusti Weather (oh, what a great stripper name!) a regular character.
And one more thing: while I greatly enjoy Rex's presence in the third season of 77SS, I wish they had brought his character over unchanged. The Rex of BSB was quite a cultured, gentlemanly sort; the Rex 77SS was a bit of a roué, and not much else.
I can't disagree with anything you said, Rob. In fact, you added some very poignant thoughts to my blunt force assault of the series. I think Andrew Duggan's Cal Calhoun character was infused with a nicely sharp wit and southern gentlemanly charm--easily the standout of the run. However, for some reason I could never get into Richard Long in any of his roles except perhaps as the son in the Ma and Pa Kettle films. I found him to be just a tad too oily. And Arlene Howell was just...blah. They should've have given her role to Nita Talbot and expanded it. That would've improved the series significantly.
As per usual, one can take my thoughts--stuff them all into a baseball cap--and there'd still be plenty of room left to fit on any Little Leaguer.
Thanks for responding!
The funny thing is, my complaint regarding Long before I saw him in the WB detective series was that he was always too anodyne, too blandly agreeable, like Mickey Mouse after they re-designed him. That was when most of my exposure to him was from The Big Valley and Nanny And The Professor. I just thought he was boring, albeit likable.
But there were two episodes of BV where I thought he was excellent: the pilot, in which he actually got mad and fought for the family ranch right alongside brother Nick, and a later episode when he goes completely insane with homicidal vengeance upon the killer of his fiancée.
I think he is very good when he plays dark, and we get to see that at times in his various roles in the WB detective shows. And of course we now know that after he left 77 Sunset Strip, he pretty much was limited to anodyne roles by his weak heart (I believe it was actually in his BV contract).
In BSB, she was until the end of her run, but as I said I liked her in "A Nice Social Evening," and if she'd played Melody that way I think it would have been fun.
That was my thought, too! Lusti learns that the agency is having trouble finding a new secretary, and she says, "I could fill in for you until you find someone--I went to secretarial school." Then, in response to all the astonished looks, she says, "Hey, I had to have a day job before my career took off!"
Russ, this thread is powered by your thoughts, and we all greatly appreciate that.
Connie is still with us, but she did suffer a stroke a few years ago
ALOHA to Robert Conrad.
No wonder I avoid my bathroom mirror.
Bourbon Street Beat
"Woman In The River" (S1E4)
Rich boyfriend Tony (Ray Stricklyn) shows up at police headquarters to complain to the desk sergeant that his girlfriend Elyse has gone missing. Yeah, that's what most people would do--drive to the police department to personally lodge a missing person report. I don't live in a large city, but if my wife was missing--by the time I drove downtown to the municipal building and found someone who gives a rat's patootie over my problem--wifey would probably be back home by then and making a pot of beef stew.
But I digress. It's a typical day at the office. Kenny is taking promotional pics of Melody, who's provocatively attired about as suggestively as a Vatican nun. Rex is in the kitchen concocting his renown crab bisque--"the key is a sprig of thyme". Cal is in his office with nothing to do but read magazines like Leatherclad Cheerleaders or the like. This homey atmosphere is shattered when Tony bursts in to ask for their help in finding his beloved Elyse. The poor lad is so distraught he won't even try some of Rex's bisque. Tony explains that Elyse is usually as punctual as a raccoon's bowel movements, but she hasn't shown up for her day job at the construction company.
This is where Rex begins his investigation and confronts a belligerent construction foreman. Besides getting his fancy Dodge stuck in the mud, Rex learns nothing and decides to skulk around the construction site. He turns up a photo of Elyse (a racy Mary Tyler Moore). He blows up the pic to life size and sets it up in the office to give the men something to fantasize about, and for Melody to aspire to. This does nothing to help solve the mystery other than inspiring the guys to find this cutie.
Kenny tapes this pic above his bed for obvious reasons; Rex contemplates filter vs. unfiltered; Cal points out Botox results
Tony's snobby family thinks Elyse is nothing more than a gold digging slut and about as welcome as a proctologist's exam, but are willing to front the bill to find her. Interviewing Elyse's two girlfriends uncover various characterizations ranging from round heels to angelic status. Nothing much here other than both girls indicate their desire to lick parts of Rex and Cal. A torrential downpour ensues, causing the river to rise and all sorts of interesting things to wash ashore. Perhaps Elyse's heavenly body? What a waste that would be. Ahhh, but a clever trick by Rex has flushed out who actually kidnapped poor Elyse, who is found alive. Surprise ending.
Although she has a very small role here, we fortunately do get to see Mary Tyler Moore nearly naked and wet. And that's one of life's happy mysteries, kind of like a sprig of thyme in Rex's crab bisque.
According to Thrilling Detective, Warner Bros. really thought BSB would be a hit -- they even bought an interest in the New Orleans restaurant, The Absinthe House, and placed the agency Randolph and Calhoun above it. However, the actual show was mainly shot on a Hollywood backlot--the one used for A Streetcar Named Desire.
Kinda wish I never saw that pic of Connie. The march of time is rarely kind.
I'm with you Russ. This is the way she looks in my mind...
For all of us.
And this is the way she looks in my mind...Va Va Voom
Gentlemen, this is the time to show your appreciation for all Connie has given. She merits our regard more now than ever. I think her inner beauty has never been greater nor move evident.
Connie is surrounded by those whose love and affection she has earned by dint of love and devotion. May she abide as long as she can.
Apologies to my fellow participants for my recent absenteeism in this thread. Many issues to juggle at home for the moment--all annoying but necessary.
I might also add that I have a modicum less inspiration for doing Bourbon Street Beat commentaries than I do with my beloved 77SS. As a result, I believe my writing has suffered which leaves me disappointed with my efforts. Not to worry--I will collect myself and soldier onward. There are plenty of 77SS 'revisits' on which I can focus.