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Friday, 22 February 2008 08:03

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

The original 1969 version of the ghostly detective format ...


UK - 1969-71 - 26 episodes (60 mins) - colour

Marrying the down-at-heel private detective genre with supernatural fantasy, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was created by Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman, who produced the show in tandem with Department S.

When Marty Hopkirk, one half of a detective agency, is murdered he returns in spirit to help his partner, Jeff Randall, to help track down his killer. Failing to return to his grave before sunrise, he violates an ancient curse that leaves him stranded on earth.

Balancing the supernatural and detective elements, Spooner and Berman keenly exploited the comic potential of the situation. Like I Dream of Jeannie, the spectral Marty can only be seen by Jeff. Although their investigations benefited from one partner not being bound by physical laws, his ghostly actions were blamed on the living partner, resulting in frequent beatings and even hospitalisation when he appeared to be talking, and more often arguing, with himself.

The scripting, mostly divided between Tony Williamson, who was more comfortable with the fantasy elements, and Donald James, whose work tended toward realism, meant that the series sometimes suffered from an inconsistency in tone. Although enjoyed by the public, negative reviews and the inability to attract an audience in America, where it was retitled My Partner the Ghost, meant that it failed to be recommissioned.

Remade in 2000, with the emphasis firmly on the comedic, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer took on the title roles, with the character of Jeannie, remodelled as Hopkirk's fiancée rather than wife, given a more pro-active role.

Mike Pratt as Jeff Randall
Kenneth Cope as Marty Hopkirk
Annette Andre as Jean Hopkirk


Posted in Series Formats
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
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