watching cops shows as a cheap alternative to travelling through time and space

I’m really getting into cop shows. It’s mostly because I like the scenery. It’s like a time machine, visiting a city at a certain time in history. CHiPs is LA in the late 70s. A month or two back in the cultural theory unit when we came up to postmodernism and the reading on how LA is like hyper-real simulacra I put the point to the class that wasn’t it just another city? But I guess I am starting to see how Hollywood may have warped its reality a bit.

The second series is interesting. They lost the old(er) school brass-dominated scoring and have gone for a more 4-on-the-floor disco beat, plus the guitar is more effected. They’re still pushing the boundaries as is evidenced (ep02S02) by this brilliant juxtaposition of images; a tiger, a supermarket–a tiger in a supermarket.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/3701089040/” title=”tigerinasupermarket by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3649/3701089040_000bb77e24.jpg” width=”500″ height=”346″ alt=”tigerinasupermarket” /></a>

It was only because of Karl Malden dying the other day that alerted me to ‘The Streets of San Francisco’. I d/loaded the pilot episode and it was pretty ace. 1972. Big cars and everyone had sideburns, which makes me feel at home. It’s pretty easy to see that Police Squad got a few of their ideas from here, and from there, The Naked Gun.

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Lt. Stone & Inspector Keller, working around the clock, eating around the clock

I’m also watching Miami Vice again. 1984. It’s pretty okay. I like how a bit of info on the wikipedia page about it says that in planning the show some exec handed someone a ripped little bit of paper that just said, “MTV cops” — make it happen. The first ep of the series had some things going on about identity and obfuscation. Flava Flav does repeat guest appearances in series 1. Given that P.E. must’ve been going by then I don’t know how he reconciled the whole Rebel without a pause thing with playing a character who’s a snitch for THE MAN.

Update: 10/14/09 I just found out the guy playing Noogie was _not_ Flava Flav. Whoops.

CHiPs

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The first season of any tv series is always the most interesting because there’s always that unsure feel to it like, ‘what? they bought the pilot? We got to make this thing now?’

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It’s interesting to watch the readjustments taking place after three or four shows.

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More of this. Less of that. You know what I mean.

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C.H.i.P.s (California Highway Patrol) was no exception. It was 1977. I guess you could say they started off with some very run of the mill eps. Establishing characters. Back story.

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One of the standout characteristics of what I’ve seen of the first season (14eps) is the soundtrack/scoring. There’s a jazzy brass and funky bass theme running through the whole thing with a myriad of variations on the main theme.

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At times they keep the music up high and the dialogue down at low volume. I like it. At about ep10 they got stuck into some full blown small stone phaser use too.

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The early part of the series swung between light comedy and serious stuff.

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Unfortunately neither of the leads are comedy actors. They brought in lots of cameos. Obviously, it was easy for the producers to find plenty of old actors ready to do bit parts. And in a strange way art was probably imitating life, given that this was L.A.

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<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/3588743558/” title=”baker by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3318/3588743558_3d7922e174.jpg” width=”452″ height=”333″ alt=”baker” /></a>

Baker delivers some bad news to a wife and son: “Your dad’s dead”. (ep4)

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H.R. Puffnstuf; postmodern intertextuality, you saw it first on CHiPs.

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Marjorie Bennett as Mrs.Downey was a recurring character. A grand old English dame in her 56 Cadillac.

For me, CHiPs stands somewhere between the predictable sparseness of Thunderbirds and something more exciting like battlestar galactica. That might sound harsh, but I do really like watching CHiPs. And it is over 30 years old. There’s something about the landscape of Los Angeles and environs at that time. It can also be seen in The Omega Man starring Charleton Heston.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/3588809562/” title=”bearndowney by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2444/3588809562_d0834355ba.jpg” width=”449″ height=”341″ alt=”bearndowney” /></a>

Mrs.Downey giving Bear the run around.

Apparently the first two seasons are available on iTunes but there are other wasy too. I hope they release the other four.