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The evolution of cop shows…

You’d think a two-month lockdown would be time for TV companies to shine, show a bunch of escapist stuff to distract us. But no, programming has been shit. We’ve taken to binge watching some very old TV.

Like The Sweeney. British 1974 police procedural. Uncle B informs me it was Britain’s first gritty cop series and controversial for it. Entertaining stuff.

This frame cracked me up. It’s a PTA meeting. See the painting in the background? RAF airplane rains bombs onto stick figures. A kid would be sent to therapy for that painting today.

Anyhoo. I was trying to remember when our cop shows went from squeaky clean Dragnet to dirty Dirty Harry. Kojak maybe?


Comment from AliceH
Time: June 4, 2020, 8:56 pm

Did a quick search, and it looks like Streets of San Francisco (1972) came out a year before Kojak (1973).

Comment from p2
Time: June 4, 2020, 9:25 pm

That guy on the right looks vaguely like Rodney from Only Fools & Horses….

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: June 4, 2020, 9:26 pm

We’ve tried to watch old action movies and such recently.
For example, Charles Bronson in “The Mechanic”.

I discovered the damn breakneck action movies have ruined the old movies for me. The pace always seems lethargic and the chase scenes, filmed with real people instead of CGI seem draggy.
Well of course! Only CGI characters can get hit by a truck going 40 miles an hour, bounce off the jersey barriers, and then get up, pull a Dragon Anti-Tank missile out of their back pocket, and fire the round through the windscreen and out the back window of a car full of praying nuns, hitting the pickup square in the cab.

Now, we DID enjoy watching good old Michael Caine as “Harry Brown”.

Comment from Mitch
Time: June 5, 2020, 1:34 am

“Who loves ya, baby?” Kojak was a bit before my time – I just remember a bald guy on TV was unusual, and he enjoyed a good lollipop. Dad liked the show. I vaguely recall Beretta, though I think I mostly enjoyed it for the bird. He had a bird, right?

Comment from AliceH
Time: June 5, 2020, 2:06 am

I never watched Kojak. I really liked Beretta, though. Yes, he had a bird: a cockatoo named Fred, I think.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 5, 2020, 5:30 am

“Highway Patrol” with Broderick Crawford was pretty gritty, or did it just seem that way because Crawford’s character “Dan Matthews” was such an asshole? It ran in the late 50s and then on and on and on in reruns. “Ten-Fawww!”

Comment from Randall
Time: June 5, 2020, 1:42 pm

Our current addiction is ‘Adam 12’ on a local secondary TV channel every evening before dinner. Definetly squeaky-clean guys.

Comment from BJM
Time: June 5, 2020, 7:17 pm

Dialin’ up the wayback machine: The first may have been 1948’s “Naked City”…some things never change, eh?

Another genre that cemented our growing unease with police authority: 77 Sunset Strip was the first “edgy” PI show. Hmmmm…or maybe Peter Gunn. Perry Mason’s gumshoe Paul Drake worked both sides of the law and DA Hamilton Burger would fit right in with the current deep staters.

I miss John Thaw’s Inspector Morse. Occasionally the series pops up on Acorn or Britbox. Still excellent.

I watch zero American TV so have no idea about the current crop of US police shows.

The only current Brit police procedural we liked was Broadchurch. Tennant is becoming an acting tour de force.

Kinda OT, but the TARDIS is a police box. Which Doctors do you prefer from the 2005 reincarnation?

9th.Christopher Eccleston
10th.David Tennant
11th.Matt Smith
12th.Peter Capaldi

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 5, 2020, 8:15 pm

Was never a Doctor Who fan, BJM. Neither of us was.

In general, I never could stand Tom Baker. He lives not far away and we occasionally see him on the street. Last time we did he looked old, old, old.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: June 5, 2020, 9:49 pm


And I liked his bit part in Black Adder during the Elizabethan times.

Please don’t tell me he’s a complete asshead in real life.

Course, I might have been watching Doctor Who at that time because of Leela (Louise Jameson), I admit. I was young then and, uh, young.


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 5, 2020, 11:01 pm


Was never a Doctor Who fan, BJM. Neither of us was. In general, I never could stand Tom Baker…

Neither could I. At one point I was part of a household that included a fan, and so I was exposed to the show during Baker’s tenure. I secretly hoped – PRAYED – for that silly long scarf to get caught in some gizmo or other and wrench his head right off.

Comment from technochitlin
Time: June 6, 2020, 12:06 pm

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: June 5, 2020, 9:49 pm


My adopted daughter and I used to watch him religiously on Sunday nights on public TV in the Eighties, followed by Tripods. Great Stuff! (and she’s a scifi fan to this day)

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: June 8, 2020, 6:28 pm

Uncle Al! He would have stopped the device with his sonic screwdriver!

Or K-9 might have saved him.
Or (nom nom) Romanadvoratrelundar

The geeky genius in the cube next to me used to pull out his mini-6 inch screen TV at 6:00 PM, take out his box of Ho-Ho’s or Ding-Dongs, and stop coding long enough to watch “the Doctor”.

Looking back that probably also colors my memory, because I was just married and still liked writing code 🙂

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