Rerun Junkie Show– Cannon

My love of 70’s cop/detective shows is legend, but it wasn’t until my house acquired MeTV that I discovered the brilliance that is Cannon.

The opening features a lot of circles I’m assuming to be cannon balls.

Cannon stars William Conrad as private detective Frank Cannon, a former police detective that retired from the force after his wife and son were killed in a car accident, which wasn’t fully dealt with until the final season of the show, which ran five years. The opening features theme music, lots of colored dots and circle cropped pictures, and finally a voice over that tells you you’re watching Cannon starring William Conrad. It then goes on to list the guest stars and the title of the episode. I have no idea why, but I find this neat.

Anyway, the episodes are pretty much the same in the since that Cannon gets hired on a case or stumbles into a plot or is otherwise drawn into helping the needy and defeating the forces of evil, usually with karate chops. Really. The man used more karate chops than Bruce Lee.

Cannon took quite a bit of abuse in the course of his investigations. He’d get beaten, shot, hurt in car accidents. I don’t know how many shirts he ruined from blood due to head wounds. Or the blood of others. He engaged in quite a few fights and was rather agile for a big man.

Not your typical action hero.

Oh, yeah. When most people picture a hero, he’s not usually as wide as he is tall, but Cannon broke that stereotype. There were still plenty of fat jokes to go around, though, if not by others then little self-deprecating quips about himself. But to be fair, Cannon had to be big. He was a big personality that liked big things. Big cars. Big meals. Big paydays.

Guest stars on the show were a fun parade of all things 70’s, either people on the way out or on the way up. Clu Gulager, William Daniels, Willie Aames, Nick Nolte, Robert Loggia, Martin Sheen, Tina Louise, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul before they were Starksy and Hutch, Micky Dolenz, Joan Van Ark, Leslie Nielsen, Harold Gould, Shelley Duvall, Mike Farrell and Wayne Rogers before M*A*S*H, Lee Meriweather, Robert Hays, and Tom Skerritt all put in some face time on Cannon.

Oh, do you like Barnaby Jones? Thank Cannon. It’s a spin-off. Don’t know what Barnaby Jones is? It’s the show that helped people think of Buddy Ebsen as someone other than Jed Clampett. Maybe we’ll discuss it another day.

I admit that sometimes the show is a little unbelievable sometimes (KARATE CHOP), but Cannon is a fun character. He can be very serious, almost menacing at times. But with the people he likes, he’s quite funny and has a great smile.

Those end scene freeze frames at the end of a show were made for those chubby cheeks.

 

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Rerun Junkie Show– Perry Mason

The opening strains of the theme song are immediately recognizable even if you’ve never seen an episode of the show. And if you haven’t, you should. Perry Mason is classic TV, quite literally. The show ran for nine seasons, starting in 1957.

The show centered around title character Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), defense attorney, his always dependable assistant Della Street (Barbara Hale), and private detective Paul Drake (William Hopper). The law side of things was often represented by state’s attorney Hamilton Burger (William Talman), Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins), and Lt. Anderson (Wesley Lau).

Our heroes in classic black and white.

Each episode revolved around an innocent person being accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Perry would take their case and with the help of Della and Paul, he’d prove their innocence, usually in dramatic courtroom fashion.

Most of the cases involved a murder and some of them were quite over the top. Several faked deaths and lots of rich people doing horrible things. And Perry seemed to know a whole lot of people quite conveniently. It was how he got involved and/or how he solved the case.

With so many suspects, bad guys, and innocents, there was plenty of opportunity for guest stars. Bette Davis, Jerry Van Dyke, Alan Hale, Keye Luke, Adam West, Lee Merriweather, Victor Buono, James Hong, Denver Pyle, David McCallum, Jackie Coogan, Elisha Cook Jr, Gavin McCleod, Gary Collins, Louise Fletcher, James Best, and James Coburn all made appearances. Don’t recognize some of the names? Look them up. Most of them guested on the show before they landed the roles that you might know them from.

No matter the guest star or the storyline, Perry always came out on top. It made you almost feel bad for Hamilton Burger. I’d like to think that he won every case that didn’t feature Perry Mason on the defense.

Watching the episodes now, the black and white isn’t the only sign that it’s an old show. Back in the late 50’s/early 60’s people smoked freely, could easily board planes, were restricted by landlines, still sent telegrams, had to research by going through papers and files by hand, and social security numbers, birth certificates, and adoption records were more easily forged. There’s at least one thing (usually more) in each episode that could not be done today. Times have definitely changed and it’s fun to compare while trying to solve the case.

And that’s where you can find me most afternoons. Helping Perry, Della, and Paul solve a murder.

 

Where I Watch It

Rerun Junkie Show– The A-Team

 In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

Are you humming the theme song yet? If not, that’s a shame.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I pity you, fool.

They pity you also.

The A-Team was one of several 80’s action shows I watched as a kid and it remains one of my all-time favorites. It’s the best cotton candy for my brain ever.

The set-up was just as simple as the intro suggested.  The team was comprised of the plan-making, wise-cracking, disguise-loving Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (George Peppard); the smooth, charming, sometimes unsure, always a ladies man Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Dirk Benedict); the tough on the outside, soft on the inside (well, sometimes) Sgt. B.A. Baracus (Mr. T); and the ever crazy, same outfit wearing (read the shirts!) pilot Captain H.M. “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock. In the first and second seasons they were joined by Amy Allen (Melinda Culea) and Tawnia Baker (Marla Heasley), respectively, and chased throughout most of the series run by first Colonel Lynch (William Lucking) and then Colonel Decker (Lance LeGault).  In the fifth season they attempted to reinvent the show by changing the premise somewhat. They added Frankie Santana (Eddie Velez) to the team and forced them into working for the vexing General Hunt Stockwell (Robert Vaughn).

The show is probably best known for the iconic build scenes (montages of them building something out of nothing; my favorite was the cabbage cannon), the gunfights in which no one was killed, and the car chases in which at least one car would flip wildly, land on its top, and the dazed occupents crawl from the car hardly scratched. Oh, and the explosions. Sometimes the storylines were a little out there, particularly in season four, but it was all in good fun.

With all the action, it’s easy to miss the dialogue, which as far as I’m concered, is where it’s at. These guys had some great, funny lines. This show gets the credit for my all-time favorite insult: “Your mother works on street corners and you’re so ugly, flies won’t land on you.” The show as a whole is incredibly quotable.

Also, if you’re in the mood for a show to jolt you out of your safe, politically correct world, this will do you. The early to mid-80’s weren’t nearly as sensitive (and you might feel bad for laughing).

The guest cast on this show was fantastic. Great stunt casting during season four. Boy George and Hulk Hogan. You can’t get bigger and more 80’s than that. But even the more low key guests were fab. Richard Moll, Alan Fudge, Red West, James Hong, Keye Luke, John Saxon, Dana Elcar, Dennis Franz, Markie Post, Alan Autry, Wings Hauser, and Claudia Christian, just to name a few.

Most of the kids my age loved BA, as they loved Mr. T. I loved him, too, but my heart belonged to (and still belongs to) Murdock. He was funny. He was crazy. He wore Chuck Taylors. He flew helicopters. He was the coolest of the cool in my eyes. To this day there’s still a little part of me that wants to be him.

I’ll settle for owning the entire series on DVD.

Side note: When I first heard about them making an A-Team moving, I was not on board. It was going to be far too difficult in my mind to recreate those characters and that chemistry. I had no interest in seeing it.

However, after several favorable reviews from friends, I was persuaded to see the finished product in the theater. I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it. It was fun like the show. It kept a lot of the show’s canon. And the new actors made the characters their own without completely alienating them from the originals.

I just wish the original cast could have played bigger roles.

 

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