I’m old (as if you needed confirmation)

No classic of cinema last night. Banacek.

I discovered the budget-priced season sets for Banacek some months ago, each with the “TV Guide” logo. One for each season. I first stumbled on the second season, then later started looking for the first… so I’ve watched the seasons backward, too. I finally started the first season last night.

I remember watching most of the NBC Mystery Movies with variable interest. I don’t remember much about McCloud or McMillan and Wife, but I do remember Banacek and Hec Ramsey, which starred an exceptionally grizzled Richard Boone as an old west lawman who utilized then-newborn methods of criminology, including the Bertillion Method… identifying people by the shapes of their ears.

But Banacek… ah, he was my favorite. Not only was George Peppard playing the coolest man alive (had James Coburn played the role, it would have reached a level of coolness that would have caused atoms to split), but he investigated impossible crimes.

For instance: last night I watched “Let’s Hear It For A Living Legend”, in which a star NFL running back is tackled, buried under a pile-up of opposing team members, and when the players get up – the running back is gone, leaving only his helmet.

As a freelance insurance investigator, it was always Banacek’s job to figure how incredible things like that were accomplished, and half the fun was trying to figure it out before he did – though admittedly, the first time I did back in the early 70s, it really killed the rest of the episode for me. In fact, I never saw the whole episode until I watched the Season Two set.

My first viewing of these is far enough in the past that I am occasionally surprised, though I note with a bit of satisfaction that in those instances, there’s usually one part of the solution that stretches reality.

The other part of the fun is watching the writers try to deal with the early 70s. Banacek is definitely a lady’s man – suave, secure, and as I mentioned before, sooooo cool. Women repeatedly throw themselves at him, and I can imagine the scribes at their manual typewriters, thanking God for Women’s Lib, so they didn’t have to be subtle with it – they’re liberated, they can be brazen about it. Or at least as brazen as TV would allow the hussies to be!

And my word, the B-movie greats that have made guest appearances. Scott Brady, Martin Koslek, Anne Francis, Candy Clark, Don Stroud, Eric Braedon, Cesar Romero, Don Gordon, Andrew Prine, Sterling Hayden, John Saxon…. and that was just season two. Apparently I have Margot Kidder, Ted Cassidy and Broderick Crawford ahead of me.

Man, seek and YouTube shall find:

On the other hand, I can’t get into Matlock, so maybe I’m not that old.

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