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Friday, 22 February 2008 07:37

Crime Story

The glitz and glamour of Chicago's Major Crime Unit ...


USA - 1986-88 - 48 episodes (60 mins) - colour

After the MTV gloss of Miami Vice, Michael Mann returned to his Chicago roots with this latter-day version of The Untouchables. Set in the turbulent early sixties before the Miranda act was passed, at a time when cops could fight dirtier than the crooks, shooting first and asking questions later, Crime Story centred on the city's Major Crime Unit, headed by hard-boiled Lt Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) and his rivalry between the ambitious, up-and-coming gangster, Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) and his crew, that would turn into all-out war.

Along with the distinctive visual styling of a Michael Mann production that included spot on period detail and a terrific assortment of 1960s rock songs that kicked off with Del Shannon's "Runaway" for the theme tune, proceedural authenticity was assured by the fact that Chuck Adamson, the show's co-creator, had served for seventeen years with the CPD while ex-cop Farina had been a member of the actual squad fictionalized in the series.

Although conceived by Mann as an epic mini-series with an established beginning, middle and end that would run the course of one season, the NBC network was looking for something more open-ended. By the second year, Luca had moved his base of operations to Las Vegas, and Torello and his team had become agents of a Federal Strike Force in order to go after him. Unfortunately most of the original writers had jumped ship for the Stephen J Cannell-produced Wiseguy and the series was never the same.


Dennis Farina as Mike Torrello
Anthony John Denison as Ray Luca
John Santucci as Pauli Taglia
Stephen Lang as David Abrams
Bill Smitrovich as Danny Krychek
Bill Campbell as Joey Indelli
Paul Butler as Walter Clemmons
Steve Ryan as Nate Grossman
Ted Levine as Frank Holman
Joseph Wiseman as Manny Weisbord
Johann Carlo as Cori Luca
Andrew Dice Clay as Max Goldman


Posted in Series Formats
Friday, 22 February 2008 07:35

Cold Lazarus

Dennis Potter's wilful last testament ...


UK - 1996 - 4 episodes (60 mins) - colour

The second part of Dennis Potter's valedictory diptych that began with Karaoke, the deeply poignant Cold Lazarus continues the story of writer Daniel Feeld 374 years after his death.

The test subject for the Larazus Project, Feeld is being used by a team of scientists led by Emma Porlock at the Madson Science Centre, to successfully revivify his cryogenically preserved head. Regenerating the brain cells through chemical inducements, the team discover they can bring his memories to life on the Living Wall.

While their experimentation incurs the wrath of would-be autocrat Martina Matilda Masdon who is only concerned with the huge overspend, media mogul David Siltz, the president of Uniplanet Total Entertainment only sees the potential in broadcasting Feeld's past life memories to the masses. As the city becomes host to terrorist attacks perpetrated by dissident Luddites who espouse Reality Or Nothing, Feeld gradually becomes aware of the interested parties vying for his memories and manipulates them to his end.

A fitting conclusion to his life and work, having named his cancer after Rupert Murdoch in response to his utter loathing of the media tycoon, Dennis Potter created an outrageous vision of the future to satirise the growing crass commercialism and media exploitation. Knowing Cold Lazarus would be his final work, he uses Feeld's visualised memories to reference his life and the already established masterpieces while voicing concerns as to how he expected to be remembered.


Albert Finney as Daniel Feeld
Frances De La Tour as Emma Porlock
Ciaran Hinds as Fyodor Glazunov
Henry Goodman as David Siltz
Diane Ladd as Martina Matilda Masdon


Posted in Series Formats
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