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Author Topic: Midnight Caller (1988-1991)
Crash
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I know that The Wonder Years DVD was held up for years because of music rights. And I agree with you, I abhor changing the soundtrack to avoid paying the licensing fee. (AIP did this with a few of their horror films from the late 60s and 70s. It was awful.)
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Nostalgic for the '80's
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I am slowly making my way through S1 of MC. I am not going to review every episode, but will review certain ones - not only to capture my thoughts as these are fresh in my mind, but also hopefully to spark some interest in those who haven't seen the show yet - but who may be on the fence re: whether or not they want to check it out.

This isn't just a good series, it's a great series. In fact, I've seen hundreds of TV series over the years & and, this is definitely in my top ten (and maybe even top five) best TV shows I've ever seen. I would also have to say this is by far the best TV show of the '80's (though it's a show that also crosses over into the '90's).'

The opening theme song/imagery is fantastic - I like the jazzy score superimposed over the night-time images of neon lights, clubs, people going out, late-night restaurants, etc. Very effective in capturing the late night world - which is so different from what we see during the day....

Note that my episode reviews will contain some SPOILERS (I don't know how to insert SPOILER tags here). So, if you haven't seen the show- yet & want to be surprised, don't read beyond this - LOL:

Season 1, Episode 6 dealt with Killian & Devon being asked to got to a local prison & interview a guy who was on death row for the murder of three innocent teens in the late '70's...this interview took place the night before he was scheduled to be executed. When this episode first began, I thought this would be one of those shows in which the guy on death row would be proven innocent, and maybe given clemency at the last minute (or, proven innocent but still killed). I.e., a "politically correct" ending/outcome.

However, that's not what happened here. The guy on death row claimed he was innocent, but couldn't prove where he was the night of the crime - and he admitted to Killian that he couldn't remember what had happened that night - but did admit remembering that he was on drugs. He was also identified by several people due to the unusual birth-mark on his face.

So, essentially, towards the end of the episode my take on this was that the guy was probably guilty.

Killian treated him with respect & dignity throughout the interview, which he didn't have to do.

The final scene when he died in the gas chamber was quite hard to watch.

Kudos to the producers of the show for having the guts to tackle such an unpopular subject & for not making it preachy. Extremely well-done. In fact, I think everyone out there should see this episode - especially those who are pro-death penalty.

I have always been very conservative & was somewhat pro-death penalty before watching this episode. Now, after watching this, I'm not so sure. Amazing that a TV series from 30 years ago can have so much impact, but there you go...I still think there should be harsh sentences for those who commit violent crimes, but am no longer sure I believe they should - in turn - be killed for those crimes....I actually believe life in prison is a far worse punishment than the death penalty, anyway.

The scenes of the people outside the prison who were celebrating the killer's death by partying brought to mind the real-life incident when a serial killer (Ted Bundy?!) was executed in Florida back in '89...in that case, people were also celebrating outside the prison the night of his death.

Further reviews are forthcoming.....

"Good Night America, Wherever you are..." - Jack Killian.
quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
I know that The Wonder Years DVD was held up for years because of music rights. And I agree with you, I abhor changing the soundtrack to avoid paying the licensing fee. (AIP did this with a few of their horror films from the late 60s and 70s. It was awful.)

Agreed - and, DVD/Blu-ray companies are still pulling this crap. For example, I was a big fan of the 2014-2015 horror series Constantine & remember watching this when it was on TV. Last year, the series got released to Blu-ray - which was great, because I really prefer the upgraded Blu picture quality/sound/color. However, when I watched some of the episodes I realized they had changed some of the rock/pop music (obviously because of licensing issues) - terrible.

[ 21. February 2017, 19:22: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Crash
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Episode 6 was one of the best of the series. As you said, it defied expectations of the typical death row/last minute evidence-of-innocence scenario. Instead, it was a well-balanced, sobering look at capital punishment. It's not preachy, nor does it strive to ram an agenda down your throat. (For that, see the single worst anti-capital punishment ever made, The Life of David Gale with Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet. While the Midnight Caller episode is pitch perfect on every philosophical and moral point, Gale bungles its preachy PC agenda so badly that by the end, I thought that it made the anti-capital punishment folks look like maniacs.) Joe Spano won an Emmy for his performance as the death row convict. Kay Lenz also won an Emmy that year for playing Jack's girlfriend with AIDS in another standout episode. The thing that irritated me back then was that the Emmy voters would nominate the show for all these fantastic guest-starring turns, but there was no love for Gary Cole in the role of his career. He's perfectly cast and so good.

You really feel like you are a member of a secret club when you discover this show. It is definitely one of the best U.S. shows of the 80s, if not all time. And again, it's really irritating that the best we have for this masterpiece are blurry VHS rips from the 80s.

[ 22. February 2017, 11:08: Message edited by: Crash ]

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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E3, S1 of MC was brilliant - the best episode I've seen so far - and, even after I watch all of the episodes this one may still end up being my favorite of the series. This featured Kay Lenz as Killian's ex who had gotten "the" fatal virus that was all over the news in the mid-late '80's.

Lenz's character contacted Killian in desperation, to help her search for the guy that had given it to her. I found the way Killian treated those he came into contact with (in his search) very poignant & heart-warming. He treated them with respect, even the sleazy guy who had knowingly been transmitting the virus to many others.

Killian's monologue at the very end of this episode was particularly brilliant - very moving.

Again, Kudos to the network for airing this episode - based on what I've read about this, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the airing of this episode even before it came out. Glad they didn't cave & still aired the show:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_It_Happened

Like a lot of episodes of this series, this brought back memories of the late '80's. I am straight, and was a somewhat sexually active teen during those years - I was already being very careful (using protection, etc.) due to concerns about getting a girl pregnant & also obviously wanting to stay STD-free. However, my eyes were really opened when I read an article in TIME Magazine (Spring 1987) which detailed how the virus was affecting both gays & straights - it's hard to imagine now, but during that time people weren't as aware that your sexual orientation didn't necessarily decrease your chances of getting this.

In any case, this episode is another one I think everyone should see - especially those who are sexually active & non-monogamous.

[ 22. February 2017, 19:21: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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S1, EP07 was another outstanding episode. It dealt one of my pet peeves re: the criminal justice system - i.e., how people with a lot of wealth & power are, in many cases, literally able to get away with murder.

The story involved a criminal setting up the son of a wealthy, corporate big shot & making it look like he committed a murder - which he didn't. However, this was done in order to make the corporate big shot admit to a murder he himself had committed. Brilliant episode, and though I don't think the ending was that realistic (too far fetched) - it still did what this show does best...i.e., tackle social issues that other shows at the time were afraid to touch.

Going along with this, I'm still amazed that this show was ever produced! The '80's was the "me" generation, and most of the popular TV fare during this time were unrealistic action shows or stupid comedies. So, an intelligent, thought-provoking series like MC was definitely an anomaly back in the day.

For that matter, I can't see that a show like this would survive even today - especially not in our overly-PC society.

This is definitely a series that stays with me long after I see an episode. I will post more as I watch more episodes.
quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
You really feel like you are a member of a secret club when you discover this show. It is definitely one of the best U.S. shows of the 80s, if not all time. And again, it's really irritating that the best we have for this masterpiece are blurry VHS rips from the 80s.

Well put, well said. Unfortunately, after watching more episodes of MC our fears that this show will never see a home video release with ALL of the original music intact are even more justified. I.e., there is a plethora of rock/pop music in this series, and not just what you hear on the radio show itself. Much of the music are background tunes in the various bars/clubs that are featured on the show - and, since the series takes place primarily late at night - a lot of this music is featured.

So, I don't see this show EVER being released to home video with all of the original music intact. And, like I mentioned before, I would much prefer old VHS rips with the original music than new, remastered DVD's/Blu-ray's with the music butchered.

[ 23. February 2017, 19:37: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Crash
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I recall the tremendous amount of pressure from outside groups about s1 e3, who thought that the episode was going to be straight up homophobic and gay bashing. It turned out that Midnight Caller, as you've said, Nft80s, was sensitive and moving. Kay Lenz was great, another stellar performance and Emmy winner in the show's long parade of guest stars.

I like shows that are about bigger ideas. For an amazing three seasons, Midnight Caller was intelligent and thought-provoking. With the dumbed-down, PC culture we live in, unless a cable network decided to try something different, there is absolutely no way this show be made today.

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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I'm continuing to make my way through S1 of "Midnight Caller". Again, what a brilliant series. I know I've been saying it a lot, but the high quality of this show can't be emphasized enough. Extraordinary.

Here are some reviews:

S1, Episode 8, "Trash Radio" - both funny & sad, it was interesting to see Jack needing to come to terms (again) with the unintentional killing of his partner, which is why he retired from the police force & became a talk radio host in the first place. The storyline re: Killian's "competitor" was interesting - he was a trashy late-night radio show host who tried to dig up dirt on Killian in order to discredit him. The ending was very fitting - I like it when people get what they deserve [Wink]

As always, great soundtrack here - especially The Eurythmics' iconic '80's tune "Would I lie to You" playing over a key scene - great song placement here.

S1, Episode 9 "No Exit": This dealt with a young teen runaway who was forced into a life of degradation by a pimp who "rescued" her from the streets. Bud Cort (who starred in the early '70's film Harold & Maude) played the sleazy pimp - very different from his previous roles.

In this episode, Killian focused his talk show on the issue of teen runaways, and even had some of them on the show - I'm guessing that at least some of these "actors" were actual street kids in real life.

As has been typical with this series, this brought back memories of the time period - I remember teen runaways being a big issue back in the '80's, even though it wasn't "discussed" too much. Obviously, I know the problem continues to this day.

S1, Episode 10: "Fathers and Sins". Superb episode. This dealt with Devon's somewhat tumultuous relationship with her father, and also showcased Jack Killian's long-lost father (Peter Boyle) who had abandoned the family years earlier - finally coming back into his life.

Incredible episode, and the sad scene of Devon having the last heart-felt conversation with her father was a good counter-point to the almost comedic reveal that Killan's father (Boyle) was a con-man - but who still cared about his estranged son to some extent.

As a middle-aged guy whose parents are getting on in years, this episode emphasized how important family is - and how you should try to have a good relationship with them (if possible), because none of us know how much longer they (or we) will be around.

The final song & the last scene of Devon waiting for Jack on the steps of his apartment as he came home from work (early in the morning) was very poignant.

Great guest-stars on this series. It seems like whenever I watch this show I know I'll recognize at least one of the actors/actresses (other than the lead(s)) in each episode.

[ 01. March 2017, 10:28: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Crash
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I like the way Devon and Jack have a complex, real-life working relationship. It is extremely well written and believable. There's none of this flirtatious bickering where the parties eventually fall into each other's arms. (Let's face it. That is one of movie and TV's most ridiculous conceits: two people who bicker constantly are actually flirtatious and fall in love. No, they just bicker.) Seriously, you can see that even though they come from different backgrounds, there is mutual respect. Devon is smart and ambitious, and she recognizes that for all his faults and demons, Jack really is a kind and decent soul--and good at what he does.

[ 01. March 2017, 16:25: Message edited by: Crash ]

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Just recently finished S1 of MC. Excellent! I liked the season so much I didn't want it to end, but now I have 2 more seasons to look forward to.

I can honestly say that this series (so far) has not had ONE weak episode - they're all incredible. This show is a real hidden gem, and it's too bad more people aren't aware of the series....understandable, since the only way to watch this are the VHS rips online.

Some stand-out episodes included:

Episode 12, "The Fall": Jack tries to assist a young man (that he had helped years before) get off of drugs. Very poignant & well-done episode.

I have known people over the years who have been addicted to alcohol/drugs, and though you may try to help them they ultimately have to want to help themselves - that's the only way they'll be able to break the cycle of addiction.

Episode 13, "Ethan's Call": Very moving episode about the family of Jack's partner & their attempts to deal with his death (which Jack accidentally caused). This is an extremely well-done episode about grief & the need to mourn - but eventually move forward - after the loss of a loved one.

Episode 15, "Wait until Midnight": A blind woman (Meg Foster) hears a murder in the apartment next to hers while speaking to Jack when he's on the air - and both she & Jack have to convince the authorities that she didn't just imagine this. Excellent, and one of the best episodes of the series.

I've liked Meg Foster, ever since I was a kid back in the '80's - her eyes are gorgeous; I've always thought they looked like cat's eyes [Wink]

Episode 16 (the season finale), "Blues for Mr. Charlie": Very disturbing show about a shooting at a convenience store, which ends up being a huge news story; Killian inadvertently gets drawn into this. Gun control is a big issue here, and I find this episode even more relevant now than it was when it came out in the late '80's - it could easily have been torn out of today's news headlines.

Overall, I definitely think that Jack Killian's compassion & non-judgemental attitude towards those he comes into contact with very inspiring. All of us (including myself) should try to aspire to be more like this.

I also noticed some interesting details re: this show:

-I was amused at the running joke about "Carmen", the never-seen owner of "Carmen's", the late-night bar that Jack frequents. In many scenes in the bar, Jack (or someone else) asks about her - and, the response is always that she's vacationing in some exotic foreign country - very funny...

-Jack doesn't seem to own a car. He's always seen either walking, taking a cab, sometimes a bus, or getting a ride from someone. I've been to SF once years ago, and IIRC they do have good public transportation (when they're not on strike). So, it makes sense that he can get around without a vehicle. This would be nice, since I myself hate driving & try to take public transportation whenever I can.

For what it's worth, here is a great site I found with an episode guide for each season. It's especially useful when watching the show online, since the sites available don't always show the episodes in order:

http://midnightcaller.garycole.net/season1.htm

quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
I like the way Devon and Jack have a complex, real-life working relationship. It is extremely well written and believable. There's none of this flirtatious bickering where the parties eventually fall into each other's arms. (Let's face it. That is one of movie and TV's most ridiculous conceits: two people who bicker constantly are actually flirtatious and fall in love. No, they just bicker.) Seriously, you can see that even though they come from different backgrounds, there is mutual respect. Devon is smart and ambitious, and she recognizes that for all his faults and demons, Jack really is a kind and decent soul--and good at what he does.

Agreed - glad the show never fell into the cliche of having Jack & Devon sleep together (I'm guessing that their platonic-only relationship continues through the next two seasons) - which would have marred the show to a great extent. Sure, it's obvious they are somewhat attracted to each other & there is some mild flirtation - understandable, since any straight guy would obviously find Devon extremely hot [Wink] However, due to the fact that they have a great professional working relationship which extends into a good friendship, they've obviously decided not to cross the line.

[ 25. April 2017, 10:42: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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I have started watching S2 of MC....and, if anything, S2 of this show is even more powerful than S1. The fact that a show of such quality came out on network TV 30 years ago is amazing to me; I've never seen a show before or since that has affected me the way MC has - truly incredible. And, I haven't even finished the series yet....

Some of the S2 episodes that stood out the most (so far) were:

Episode 4: An LE officer (a friend of Jack's) is fighting for the right to take his son off life support after a horrible accident two years earlier; extremely moving look at euthanasia & how having someone in a coma & on life-support affects their loved ones.

Episode 5: Devon has a stalker who escalates his activities, until Jack has to temporarily move in to her apartment to keep her safe. Well-done & disturbing episode.

This is the second episode of S2 in which Devon & Jack have a non-platonic kiss, though both decide not to take it any further due to their mutual respect & excellent working relationship/friendship. As has been mentioned, Jack & Devon's relationship on this show is very unique - instead of jumping into bed together (as would happen with two characters like this on almost every other TV series ever made), the show's writers/producers decide to go the opposite route & made the characters able to control their emotions much more - which I think is realistic & refreshing.

Episode 7: the most powerful episode of the series so far; Jack hears that his old girlfriend Tina Cassidy (Kay Lenz) is dying in a hospice, and as he goes to be with her in her final hours, he reflects on the time he had with her the previous year. This is a follow-up to the excellent S1 episode in which her character is first introduced. Most of this episode is a flash-back to what happened after she came back into his life the year before; she moved in with Jack after losing her place (and much of her belongings) due to having to spend $ on medication, and they had a happy couple of months?! before she started to get sicker & moved out.

One of the most poignant scenes in this episode is after Tina actually passes; Jack walks out of the hospice in the early morning hours, and finds a stray cat. He takes it with him, and then ends up sitting on a bench near the waterfront. There are a group of kids going to school, and one of them asks to pet the cat & then thanks Jack. What I got from this scene is that even though Jack had just witnessed something terrible & sad - i.e. Tina's horrible death - there was still hope in the world, and life does go on.....

This may actually be the most moving, powerful, and heart-rending TV episode I've ever seen...and I don't say that lightly.

[ 22. March 2017, 12:38: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Crash
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Kay Lenz, an actress not a lot of folks took seriously because of her looks, was truly excellent in her two guest starring episodes on MC. She won an Emmy too. If you want to see another couple of great Kay Lenz performances, there's Clint Eastwood's Breezy (1973), where she falls in love with much older William Holden, and Fast-Walking (1982) with James Woods. A sadly underappreciated actress...

As I recall, Wendy Kilbourne/Devon left the series early in season 3 so indeed the show handled their relationship in a realistic manner.

MC was that rare show like Homicide: Life on the Street that transcended its genre. MC somehow managed to mix its noir genre stuff with all of the social issues that it tackled. And it did it brilliantly.

You, my friend, and I will keep beating the drum for MC, perhaps the greatest, yet least known, American TV series of all time.

[ 13. March 2017, 12:15: Message edited by: Crash ]

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Some of the as-always excellent MC episodes I caught recently were:

S02, E09: Jack's friend Deacon (the reporter) has a new girlfriend (the always great Pam Grier) with a serious gambling problem, with devastating consequences. This was a complex episode that also dealt with the forgery of paintings. I was also impressed at the realistic downer ending.

S02, E12: Jack Killian looks back at the then-recent famous San Francisco earthquake, which hit in October 1989. I've never lived in that area, but remember hearing about this on the news at the time. Very devastating, and Jack interviewed people who gave testimonials of where they were & what they were doing at the time. Very moving; especially interesting was when the reporter Deacon came across an ex-football player who had become homeless, and tried to help him get back on his feet.

This episode had an amusing side to it as well: Jack remembered that Devon had gotten caught in an elevator with a guy she had an argument with over a parking space, and reminded her of this. Later in that episode, that same guy came into the studio (presumably because he was listening to the show) and brought a "interesting" painting he had done of Devon - very funny!

Here's a link about this famous earthquake - I didn't know that 67 people had died as result of this:

http://www.history.com/topics/1989-san-francisco-earthquake

S02, EP13: This was a very moving episode that dealt with a kid who ended up being abandoned at a gas station by his mother and her boyfriend, and had to end up fending for himself on the streets. Killian gets involved, and the overall issue of homeless street kids ends up being a focus of this episode (just like a similar episode in S1). Joe Cocker's great, iconic rock song "When the Night Comes" was featured in a key scene on this episode, and is another reminder of why this show will probably never hit home video... [Frown]

I watch a lot of TV, but these days I've especially been making a point of trying to watch a lot of Midnight Caller - more than even any of the new shows I'm currently watching. The show is so good, that once I finish seeing an episode I want to watch the next one. I'm rarely into shows this much, but this just proves that the series is so well-done & compelling that it's gotten addictive for me [Wink] .

After getting into the show more, the soundtrack is intriguing me - not just the original rock songs, but the original jazzy theme song & the original jazz music in the series itself.

I looked this up, and there was apparently a soundtrack that came out for the show in the late '80's (which contained mostly the rock soundtrack on the series), but the CD has obviously been OOP for years - and, I doubt it'll get re-issued.

Here's a link to an extended version of the opening theme music - very cool:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp54tt9gH54

[ 14. March 2017, 07:40: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
Kay Lenz, an actress not a lot of folks took seriously because of her looks, was truly excellent in her two guest starring episodes on MC. She won an Emmy too. If you want to see another couple of great Kay Lenz performances, there's Clint Eastwood's Breezy (1973), where she falls in love with much older William Holden, and Fast-Walking (1982) with James Woods. A sadly underappreciated actress...

I saw "Breezy" on DVD years ago - excellent movie with fantastic performances. And, much more intelligent than the typical "Older man/younger woman" films out there. William Holden was good as the older widower who fell for the much younger hippie, played by Kay Lenz. Definitely a product of it's time, and I mean that in a good way. I consider the '70's the best decade for film, and this was one of the many great movies from that time period.

quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
MC was that rare show like Homicide: Life on the Street that transcended its genre. MC somehow managed to mix its noir genre stuff with all of the social issues that it tackled. And it did it brilliantly.

"Homicide: Life on the Street" is one of my favorite '90's shows. I grew up in the Baltimore City area, and so was familiar with the locale. Excellent crime drama with an amazing cast. Ironically, I never saw the show when it was originally on since I was watching very little TV in the '90's. I did catch the entire series much later on DVD, which was the optimum way to watch this.

quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
You, my friend, and I will keep beating the drum for MC, perhaps the greatest, yet least known, American TV series of all time.

Agreed! One of the reasons I'm regularly posting my reviews of the MC series is to try to get more people into the show. Even though the series will never make it to a DVD/Blu release, at the least I hope my reviews intrigue people enough to at least check out the show & see what they're missing...I think what may be keeping many from watching the show is that the only way to see this are the VHS rips currently available. Sure, these aren't that great - but seeing it this way is much better than not being able to watch the show at all!
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Crash
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I was surprised how sensitively done Breezy was. Eastwood was well on his way to being a great director even back then. The 70s were the best years for American movies, no doubt about that. I don't think that we will ever see those days again with lots of intelligent, creative, unique films, unlike today's lot of copycat blockbusters and stuff aimed at 14-year-olds.

Homicide is like Midnight Caller in a lot of ways. On its surface, it looks like a standard police procedural. But when you watch it you, see that it just uses the police show setting as a framework to do so much more. Like something written by Dostoyevsky, it plays out themes of life, death, and the human experience. Great show too.

You're going to be sad when you finish season three and won't have anymore MC episodes to experience for the first time. For anybody reading this thread, once again, if you want to see one of the most intelligent, emotional, and beautifully realized American TV shows of all time, don't fear these faded VHS rips. The show transcends its tatty on-line existence.

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Finished S02 & am starting S03. Here are some S02 reviews:

S02, E14 "Kid Salinas" - this dealt with illegal immigrants in the boxing world. Extremely well-done - and, as with this entire series- this topic/issue is actually as relevant now - if not more relevant - than it was when the episode was first released.

S02, Ep 15-16 "A Snitch in Time" Parts 1-2: These are two of the best episodes in the entire series. These dealt with Jack being accused of a crime he didn't commit due to his being in the wrong place at the wrong time; and also due to an opportunistic criminal who tried to benefit herself by having Jack take the fall. Very scary, and it was obvious that if Jack didn't have friends who supported/helped him & a good idea of how the criminal justice system worked (due to his having been an LE officer), there's a good chance he would have gone to prison for this crime.

These 2 episodes just made me think of all of the times I read a news story about someone who was convicted of something they didn't do - and, who doesn't have the resources (either financial or otherwise) to fight this. Maybe some of these people will have their convictions eventually overturned, but not before losing long years - and their mental & physical health - in the prison system.

S02, E18 "Wrong Side of the Wall" - this episode dealt with an older guy who had gotten out of prison after years of being on the inside - and found himself with no job, no resources, and no friends. Against his better judgement, he takes up with some criminals; somehow Jack gets involved, and tries to help him. Again, superb episode that really sheds light on the plight of the prisoners (especially the non-violent offenders) who get out of prison & have no recourse on the outside. After seeing this episode, it makes you understand why so many of these former prisoners end up back inside after having been released.....

I definitely agree that many people in prison deserve to be there & off the streets. However, the above three episodes really makes you think about the CJ system from a perspective that isn't usually presented to us.

S02, E22 "Nighthawk's got the blues" - this is the season finale. Jack is going through a difficult time in this episode, as he thinks back to his time with Tina as her birthday is coming up; he ends up taking out his anger/frustration on his listeners & friends. There are a lot of flashbacks to Tina in this episode - very touching & sad.

Also wanted to mention at how impressed I was at the portrayal of Jack & Tina's relationship - after she came back into his life. Though it was obvious they loved each other, it also obviously wasn't physical at that point (due to her illness) - however, you could see that they both cared about each other, and Jack was very upset when she left. I agree that Kay Lenz is an amazing actress; the performance that she gave in the few episodes she was in was incredible, and in the hands of a lesser actress this would have fallen short. However, she was spot-on with her acting here, and was extremely convincing as someone who both cared about Jack - but also didn't want him to see her getting worse....

quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
I was surprised how sensitively done Breezy was. Eastwood was well on his way to being a great director even back then. The 70s were the best years for American movies, no doubt about that. I don't think that we will ever see those days again with lots of intelligent, creative, unique films, unlike today's lot of copycat blockbusters and stuff aimed at 14-year-olds.

Agreed. Breezy was an amazing film. I am amazed at how many great films came out in the '70's - in many cases, I discovered (and am still discovering) these for the first time on home video. Thankfully we have DVD's & Blu-ray's - otherwise, I would never have even heard of many of the films.

[ 19. March 2017, 19:19: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Was there ever a bad episode of Midnight Caller? I don't think so!

Nft80s, once you finish the run of Midnight Caller, can I hook you on a 90s series that lasted only one season, was thoughtful and brilliant, and has never been released on DVD? Hint: It ran on the fledgling Fox TV Network.

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Started watching S03 of MC, and, as always, am extremely impressed by these episodes. Here's a review of some of the early ones in the season:

S03, EP01 - "Class of 1980": Women from Devon's college graduating class are dying in suspicious ways, and Jack, Zymek, and Deacon need to get to the bottom of this. Co-starring the drop-dead gorgeous Julianne Philips as Jack's new girlfriend.

S03, EP03 - "Old Friends": This episode focuses on Jack's surrogate father (played by Martin Basalm) having to go into an assisted living facility/nursing home. Very poignant episode, with several flashbacks to Jack's youth in the 1960's.

As with much of this show, this episode is very relatable to me. I have had several elderly relatives go into nursing homes over the years, and it's a very sad situation when someone gets to the point where they can't take care of themselves & need to rely on others for their basic needs.

S03, EP04-05, "Ain't too proud to beg" and "Sale Away" - these are two of the most best episodes of the entire series, and focus on Devon deciding to get married, leave San Francisco, and sell the radio station. She struggles with her decision, and Jack struggles as well; he has to decide whether to stay on @ the station, given that he has other, more lucrative job offers.

Some of my favorite scenes here are the last conversations Jack has with Devon in these episodes; he tells her that he really appreciates what she did for him, i.e. giving him a chance at a fresh start (by hosting the radio show) after his personal tragedy.

Most poignant (for me, at least) is the final monologue/scene during the radio show in EP05 - Jack reflects on how much his friendship with Devon has meant to him over the years & how sad he will be to see her go. It's obvious their friendship was more than just professional; they really cared for & respected each other.

Some other comments about the show:

-It's interesting how many people there are still up @ 3:00am when Jack gets off work. The Nighthawk radio show runs from midnight to 3:00, and inevitably when Jack walks home & stops off at Carmen's, either Deacon and/or Zymek are there hanging out; or there are at least others around & still awake. I can see why Jack is still up at that hour, but don't any of these other people sleep!? LOL.

quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
Was there ever a bad episode of Midnight Caller? I don't think so!

Nft80s, once you finish the run of Midnight Caller, can I hook you on a 90s series that lasted only one season, was thoughtful and brilliant, and has never been released on DVD? Hint: It ran on the fledgling Fox TV Network.

No problem at all. I am actually on the third season of MC, and am slowly making my way through this. I don't want it to end too soon [Smile]

[ 24. March 2017, 06:21: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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quote:
Nft80s, once you finish the run of Midnight Caller, can I hook you on a 90s series that lasted only one season, was thoughtful and brilliant, and has never been released on DVD? Hint: It ran on the fledgling Fox TV Network.
No teasing! What's the show?!
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Crash
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My show is a brilliant oldie, but goodie, that ran on the Fox Network before The X-Files on Friday night, "Strange Luck" with D.B. Sweeney. He plays Chance Harper, a photographer, who as a child was the sole survivor of plane crash that killed everyone else on board. He now leads a charmed life, from big to small: For example, down to his last dollar, he needs coffee. He buys a scratch-off lottery ticket and wins. Falling from a building, there just so happens to be a canopy/trash dumpster to break his fall. Much like Jack in "Midnight Caller," he gets involved in the lives of people he meets. In one particularly memorable episode, there is a fight over a potato that looks like Elvis. Sweeney gives a terrific "everyman" performance, and he's aided and abetted by two attractive actresses, Pamela Gidley from "Buck Rogers" as his boss and Frances Fisher as the kindly waitress who pours him the coffee.

"Strange Luck" was an exceedingly clever and entertaining show created by Karl Schaefer, who also did that other 90s cult classic "Eerie, Indiana." Not as profound and socially relevant as "Midnight Caller," nor as weird and off-the-wall as "Nowhere Man," this wonderful show was never given a chance by Fox. It lasted 17 episodes. Oh, and I forgot to mention, there were passing references to The X-Files universe, which were fun. It's never been out on video--here's another show with a killer, but cost-prohibitive, soundtrack--but you can catch episodes on line.

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Continuing to make my way through S03 of MC. Amazing. This season is as good as the previous two - and maybe even slightly better! I was initially thinking the S03 episodes would be lacking since Devon left early in the season, but I really like Nicky Malloy - the new owner of the radio station. She's a completely different type of person than Devon, but no less interesting. She's very straight-forward & seems to be willing to take a lot more risks than Devon ever did.

I was especially amused in one episode when Jack was tentatively flirting with her by asking who she was going out on a date with, and she responded by saying something like, "Don't throw your hat in the ring, Jack" - LOL. Obviousy she was trying to get him to back off in a not-so-subtle way. This is a far cry from the very obvious attraction that Devon & Jack had for each other in S01 - S02.

Here are some episode reviews:

Episodes 6-7: "Life Without Possibility, Parts 1 & 2" - Jack ends up broadcasting the show from inside a prison when a riot is going on; though Jack initially balks at doing this, Nicky Malloy insists. Very intense & disturbing episode that focuses on the rights of prisoners; they are trying to get better treatment for themselves & are rioting in order to try to make this happen. Over all of this we see numerous monologues by a prisoner (Robert Beltran) who is being denied treatment for his cancer; he is the focal point of these episode(s).

As with other MC episodes involving violent criminals (notably the excellent death row episode), the show is not trying to make portray criminals/convicts as misunderstood or as people who should be let back out on the street, but instead very realistically - but also thoughtfully.

I also recognized several of the guest stars:

Robert Beltran starred in two of my favorite '80's films, the dark comedy "Eating Raoul" (1982), and the campy B sci-fi flick "Night of the Comet" (1984).

And, Terence Knox (who played a prisoner in this episode, with a vendetta against Jack) starred in the superb Vietnam war drama, "Tour of Duty" (1987-1990). Excellent series, with an unfortunate sub-par DVD release back in the 200X's; much of the 1960's/1970's rock/pop music that was so great in the series itself had been replaced in the show with other music - which, to me, effectively ruined the viewing experience re: watching this show. Examples like this are why I really don't mind that much that MC is not on DVD; if it were, I'm sure some of the iconic rock music would be replaced, thereby marring our enjoyment of the series.

Episode 8, "Ryder on the Storm" - yet another amazing episode. Jack tries to help out one of his youthful heroes, the aging Ryder, who had hosted a radio show in San Francisco in the late '60's - '70's. Unfortunately, Ryder had some demons from his past that he was having a hard time with. Great 1960's/1970's rock/pop soundtrack here, since it was looking back at that era. This was also avery sad episode & a poignant reminder that, in many cases, our past can really define our present & future - if we let it do so.

Episode 9, "Home to Roost" - Fantastic but extremely tragic episode dealing with the Vietnam war; one of Jack's old LE friends is accused by a Vietnamese man of killing innocents in his village years before.

Episode 10, "With Malice towards one" - one of the best episodes of S3 (so far). This was an extremely well-done flash-back episode dealing with a horrible experience Jack & Devon had gone through a year before. A violent ex-con wanted to get revenge on both Jack & the ex-con's former gf; Devon & Billy Poe also ended up getting caught in the cross-fire. Very intense & gripping episode; this was a lot more like a crime drama than a regular episode of MC.

The most notable guest star here was actor Ted Levine as the ex-con; TL is probably best known for his role as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer in the great, quirky TV series "Monk" (2002 - 2009), as well as Buffalo Bill in "Silence of the Lambs" (1991).

[ 18. April 2017, 13:26: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Crash
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You write wonderful reviews of these episodes, my friend.

Midnight Caller is not simple television that you can sort of watch while doing something else. It's intelligent and not mindless--it's about something every episode. And as you've said, it plays very fairly with its controversial social issues such as capital punishment.

Someone should convince Netflix or Amazon to bring Gary Cole back for new episodes. In today's world, you'd have lots of plot material--gun control, stem cell research, immigration, terrorism, treatment of the elder, euthanasia, sexting, and a whole mess of new LGBTQ issues.

[ 05. April 2017, 12:28: Message edited by: Crash ]

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quote:
My show is a brilliant oldie, but goodie, that ran on the Fox Network before The X-Files on Friday night, "Strange Luck" with D.B. Sweeney. He plays Chance Harper, a photographer, who as a child was the sole survivor of plane crash that killed everyone else on board. He now leads a charmed life, from big to small: For example, down to his last dollar, he needs coffee. He buys a scratch-off lottery ticket and wins. Falling from a building, there just so happens to be a canopy/trash dumpster to break his fall. Much like Jack in "Midnight Caller," he gets involved in the lives of people he meets. In one particularly memorable episode, there is a fight over a potato that looks like Elvis. Sweeney gives a terrific "everyman" performance, and he's aided and abetted by two attractive actresses, Pamela Gidley from "Buck Rogers" as his boss and Frances Fisher as the kindly waitress who pours him the coffee.

"Strange Luck" was an exceedingly clever and entertaining show created by Karl Schaefer, who also did that other 90s cult classic "Eerie, Indiana." Not as profound and socially relevant as "Midnight Caller," nor as weird and off-the-wall as "Nowhere Man," this wonderful show was never given a chance by Fox. It lasted 17 episodes. Oh, and I forgot to mention, there were passing references to The X-Files universe, which were fun. It's never been out on video--here's another show with a killer, but cost-prohibitive, soundtrack--but you can catch episodes on line.

I have no memory of that show, but it sounds great! Something to add to the list...
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Nostalgic for the '80's
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quote:
Originally posted by Crash:
You write wonderful reviews of these episodes, my friend.

Midnight Caller is not simple television that you can sort of watch while doing something else. It's intelligent and not mindless--it's about something every episode. And as you've said, it plays very fairly with its controversial social issues such as capital punishment.

Thanks - I'd like to think that my reviews are getting at least some people more interested in watching the show. It's also a pleasure to write them, given that the show is so good & thought-provoking. I watch a lot of TV, and in many cases I pretty much forget about the show once an episode is over. However, with MC, the episodes stay with me long afterwards - and I find myself thinking about them throughout the day/night. Again, this is a brilliant series & it's a shame that it's not available in a decent home video format.

I'm slowly making my way through the rest of S03, but am trying to prolong it as long as possible [Wink]

Here's an interesting blog looking back at the show, by a woman who watched it when it was first released:

http://www.goretro.com/2011/11/land-of-lost-tv-series-2-midnight.html

[ 26. April 2017, 11:09: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Still making my way through S03. Again, excellent season and I'm really enjoying Nicky Malloy's character as Jack's new boss in this season. She has a much stronger, more aggressive personality than Devon, which makes for some unexpected & interesting interactions with Jack.

Some episode reviews:

Episode 12, "Her Dirty Little Secret" - Jack recognizes a woman on the street as someone who had disappeared & been presumed dead years earlier. However, Jack's noticing her brings skeletons out of the closet, and may even be dangerous for the woman. This is a very serious & uncompromising look at spousal abuse - very dark, but well-done episode.

Episode 14, "Play Blotto....and Die" - one of the handful of comedic episodes in this series. A lottery winner (who happens to be a weasely former snitch who used to work with Jack) is hard-pressed to come forward to claim his prize because he's in the witness protection program; so, he tries to get Jack to help him retrieve the money.

Very funny episode, with several laugh-out loud moments - including a scene when Jack is hugged by a woman who has just finished a sweaty work-out - when she finishes with the hug, you can see messy sweat stains all over Jack's shirt - LOL!!!

Episode 15, "Can't Say N-N-No" - this episode deals with Nicky Malloy's former boyfriend (a musician & drug addict) coming back into her life. This is one of the best TV episodes I've ever seen that seriously deals with addicts & the cycle of addiction.

This episode is notable for several somewhat 'steamy' kisses between Jack & Nicky; she turns to Jack for comfort after her ex comes back. And, like an episode in a previous season (with Devon) Nicky is waiting for Jack when he comes home in order to get comfort from him. However, things fizzle out by the end of the episode - though, it seems obvious that if circumstances had been different, Nicky & Jack would probably have "consummated" the relationship (maybe).

I envy Jack's relationship with Devon & Nicky in this series; he can genuinely be friends with women without either of them expecting anything else in return. Genuine Male/Female friendships (when both parties are straight) are tough, because eventually at least one person is going to have romantic feelings for the other. However, Jack is able to keep these feelings in check & remain professional - while at the same time being a genuine friend to these women when they need him (and vice-versa).

Episode 16, "Blood Ties" - Jack becomes a "big brother" to a kid whose father left the family years before. This ends up bringing up old wounds, since it makes Jack remember his own father abandoning him years before. Things get complicated once the boy's real father comes back into the family's life.

One of my favorite scenes here is when Nicky seems Jack sitting alone on a bench near the radio station, and goes to comfort him - very touching & poignant.

This is by far one of the best episodes of the series.

Episode 18, "The Loneliest Number" - Jack's troubled sister comes back to town after years of being away, and quickly gets romantically involved with one of Jack's friends. Very dark look at how some needy people will jump into relationship without getting to know the other person and/or thinking of the consequences.

[ 26. April 2017, 10:09: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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Well, I finally finished watching all of Midnight Caller Season 3 (the final season). It was sad to watch the final episodes; even though these originally aired 26 years ago, it was my first time seeing them.

Here are my final episode reviews:

Episode 19, "A Cry in the Night" - harrowing episode involving a KJCM security guard who is forced to take a stand against his drug-addicted son, with tragic consequences. This is a look at how drug abuse can tear apart a family. It also takes a hard look at the legal profession, and how many there will want to profit off of the misery/misfortune of others.

Sad episode, but with a somewhat uplifting ending.

Episode 21 - 23, "The City of Lost Souls, Parts 1-3" - The first & only three-parter of the series, this is a superb neo-noir mystery that could easily have been a feature film:

Jack gets involved in an investigation with many different elements, including: an old friend he knew from high school (who had since fallen on hard times); Jack's long-lost H.S. girlfriend; a young woman searching for her biological father; local San Francisco politics & campaign funds; corrupt corporate businessmen; the homeless; a young woman who seemingly wants to replace either Nicky or Jack (or both) on the radio station; and a hitman.

This excellent three-parter was a great way to finish off the series.

Some general comments about the series:

-I used to work second shift on several jobs I had years ago; this was roughly from 4:00pm - 12:30am. I remember that my sleep schedule was tough during those jobs - i.e., I felt like I had less free time than I did during a regular 9-5-ish 40 hour work week, since when I came home after midnight, I wasn't at all tired - but still needed to go to sleep. I ended up eventually sleeping sometimes into the late morning (of the next day), and when I got up it seemed like sometimes I only had several hours before I had to go back to work.

Seeing this series is reminding me of those days somewhat; though I never had Jack Killian's hours (12:00 midnight to 3:00am), I'm thinking that JK's sleep schedule was messed up to some extent as well. However, he always seems to have enough time during the day to meet & talk to people, etc. - I guess in many cases he got enough sleep before he had to go to work. Or, he didn't need much sleep to begin with.

- As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's fairly cool that JK didn't need a car. He got by on walking, taking public transportation, cabs, rides from friends, etc. I also hate driving & wish I didn't need to have a car. However, it's tough in most cities to pull this off, since the public transportation - for the most part - is not that great in the U.S.

-I want to profusely Thank all of the people out there who made these MC rips available for viewing on Dailymotion/Youtube, and also those who started this thread in the first place. If we didn't have access to these rips there is no way I would ever have seen the show, especially given that it may not ever see a DVD release (for all of the reasons already mentioned).

Going along with this, I wanted to encourage those who haven't watched the show yet - but are intrigued by the premise - to not be discouraged by the quality of the streams available. Sure, they're far from HD, but are similar to what a show looked like when you taped it off of VHS back in the day. I.e., I seriously doubt the show looked that much better than these rips when it was originally broadcast on TV. If you're an '80's kids, I'm sure you remember those days - LOL.

-It's too bad the series didn't get renewed for a 4th season, but three seasons is a fairly respectable run for any TV series - especially since many series that are fairly good may only last 1-2 seasons.

[ 26. April 2017, 10:37: Message edited by: Nostalgic for the '80's ]

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