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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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