KOJAK on DVD????

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Claude North, Feb 25, 2004.

  1. Claude North

    Claude North Second Unit

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    Has there been any discussion about the possibility of issuing complete season sets of KOJAK? I suspect that it would be very popular.
     
  2. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    First season is coming 13 months after you wrote that....on March 22, 2005! [​IMG]
     
  3. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    For years I've been waiting for KOJAK to come to home video in any form. Now Universal is finally putting it out in a box set scheduled for a late March release.

    The late, great Telly Savalas -- a former educator turned actor, was memorable in a wide range of guest roles in the 1960s, particularly guest starring on such TV series as "The Untouchables", "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour", "The Fugitive", "The Twilight Zone". and a two-part episode of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.". In features he was memorable in the Clint Eastwood anti-war comedy-drama "Kelly's Heroes".

    But when Telly first played Lt. Theo Kojak in a 3 hour TV movie called "The Marcus-Nelsen Murders" in 1973, both a weekly series and a TV icon was born.

    Filmed to a great extent in New York City, KOJAK lasted 5 years, and featured fairly early guest apperances by such actors as Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, and in two of the last episodes in 1978 veteran Danny Thomas showed up in a rare dramatic part along with a non-actor playing himself entertaining in Las Vegas....Liberace!

    Telly Savalas even got to direct a few episodes, including "Azure Dee" in 1975 -- which he also sang the lyrics too and quite beautifully at that. I think he had a musical record album out at the time as well. Azure Dee was a story about a hooker whom Kojak once busted years earlier. He feels somewhat responsible for her recent death.

    A female suspect once appropriately called Kojak "A Greek bowling ball". Savalas shaved his head, which had already been mostly bald since he began acting in the late 1950s. Shaggy haired brother George Savalas played the hefty and somewhat dense Detective Stavros, a regular since the series began (although he was originally billed as Demosthenes at the start of the first act until the 2nd season).

    Kevin Dobson was the equally streetwise, but more impatient Lt. Bobby Crocker, Kojak's right-hand younger partner. The series was one of the more violent but realistically portrayed police dramas. Kojak was seen all over New York either sucking lollipops or smoking mini cigars.

    Both of those items, along with Theo's wit and charm and the one-liners delivered so well by Savalas were surprisingly missing when Telly returned to play Kojak in two TV movies in the mid 1980s, the first and better of which was the Soviet themed "Kojak: The Belarus File". The other was "Kojak: The High Price of Justice" in 1987.

    Things weren't much different on another network: ABC in 1989-90 for 6 two-hour Mystery Movie episodes airing once a month alternating with the new Columbo movies. In the newer version, Kojak was too serious, but he was always worth watching. He had also been promoted to Inspector by that time. Andre Braugher got his start as Kojak's new partner, but Kevin Dobson (plus hairpiece) returned to guest in just 1 episode as Bobby Crocker, now retired from the police force to become a successful lawyer. Other than that, Savalas was the only actor to return from the old series since his brother George had died a few years earlier.

    And now Ving Rhames is playing Kojak in a new series produced for USA Network that not surprisingly premieres the same month the first season comes out on DVD. As was the case of Police Squad's Peter Lupus (as Sgt. Nordberg) on TV being played by O.J. Simpson in the Naked Gun feature films or Will Smith portraying Robert Conrad's James West character in the uncalled for Wild Wild West feature remake or even Cedric the Entertainer as "The Honeymooners" Ralph Kramden (when nobody can replace Jackie Gleason), Ving Rhames comes to TV to remind us that....
    When you go black, you're Lt. Kojak! [​IMG]
     
  4. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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    Too bad this excellent tv-movie/pilot apparently will not be included in the Season 1 set. I cannot imagine why Universal wouldn't include it, since they've included most every other series' pilots. Hopefully it will be in the set, and the advance press release was in error.

    I'm glad I have the UK DVD release of the pilot, in case it isn't included on the U.S. set.
     
  5. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    Savalas actually first shaved his head and kept it that way for when he played Pilate in "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
     
  6. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    I can't imagine the first season set of KOJAK not having The Marcus-Nelson Murders, and I'll go out on a limb and say that at a reported 1118 minutes for the entire package, that it will.

    Even Columbo had BOTH pilots ("Prescription:Murder" -- filmed in 1967 / aired in Feb. 1968 and "Ransom for a Dead Man" from 1971) in that set which Universal put out last fall. The only real drawback I can see is that as with Columbo, don't expect KOJAK to have any special features whatsoever.
     
  7. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    "Who Loves Ya, Baby?" [​IMG]

    Telly Savalas and his brother George in the 1970s:
     
  8. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Yes, Jeff, that's the picture we posted a while back!

    It might be better, though, for both HTF and for us at TSoD if you made it a link to the news story you found that in, instead of just showing the pic. That would help to preserve bandwidth on both sites. Thanks,
     
  9. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    I don't even remember where I got that pic, Dave. The news story didn't reveal anything we don't already know about KOJAK.

    Is there anything wrong with an occasional picture to fill bandwidth? I hope I'm not slowing down the operation of this site! :b
     
  10. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    The url you used to link it back to our graphic storage directory is what reveals it as ours.

    HTF Rules state: Well, it was fresh when we posted the news (and box art, and menu shot) a month ago, on Jan 5th (& updated on the 6th). [​IMG]

    You just popped the box into the discussion with no context, and it was linked off of our bandwidth, which is why I thought it was strange. That's all. I guess I'm feeling protective of my news stories lately, probably because of stress in other places in my life. Don't worry about me. Carry on.
     
  11. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    It's OK, David. I changed the picture. [​IMG]
     
  12. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I'll let the HTF owners/mods or the folks at TVTome worry about that one. :wink:
     
  13. Jason-D

    Jason-D Agent

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    Has there been any news about whether the pilot TV movie will be included? Thanks
     
  14. hanson mat

    hanson mat Stunt Coordinator

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    Yay! have you all heard that Kojak is coming back to TV? Ving Rhames is the new Kojak on the USA version which I just found out premieres March 25th. So happy bout this. May watch the DVD's of the original version so that I can compare.[​IMG]
     
  15. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    Ving Rhames is a very good actor in his own right, but he will never effectively replace the Theo Kojak -- the late, great Telly Savalas. The 1970s original series remains the best. I got the impression that even Telly wasn't too happy with the 1980s and 1990 TV movies & episode sequels he did.
     
  16. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    I just came across this thread and since, at this very moment I am holding the Season 1 boxset in my hands - there is only the 22 episodes from season one. It comes in three standard keep cases with 8 episodes on the first two and the 3rd contains 6. Audio is listed as 2.0 Mono. Will definitely check it out tonight. They affixed a label on the lower corner of the front cover that mentions the new series. Total running time is 18 hrs. 38 min. Inside the first case is a fold out booklet advertising the various shows with a mention that Season 2 of the Munsters will be released soon. If anyone wants to know any more info on the episodes please post.
     
  17. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    Went through the first two episodes and from what I saw the video quality is very good. Audio was also nice with some very noticeable bass. I certainly feel it was well worth buying. I have not seen the series in years so will not be able to comment on whether Universal messed up anywhere.
     
  18. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    How were you able to get KOJAK several days in advance, Brent? It isn't due in stores until Tuesday. Do you work in or have connections in the entertainment industry?

    As for the quallity of the film prints, for well over two decades they've always been excellent even in TV reruns, so no digital remastering would have been required.
     
  19. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

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    There appears to be a mastering issue with episode 3 on the set. My Sony player barfed when I tried to play it (very jerky video) and my Macintosh had lots of problems with the disc. I tried it in my Panasonic player and it worked flawlessly. I'll be interested in hearing how the set plays for others, but I've already notified Universal about this possible issue and asked them to look into it.

    The prints look very, very good given their age. There's some dust, but no major flaws that I've seen. Oh, and they placed a chapter after the opening [​IMG]

    Gord
     
  20. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    That's certainly good news, because my 2 year old Panasonic DVD recorder (hooked into my cable TV) always delivers! [​IMG][​IMG]
     

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