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Kojak Series 3: Who loves ya baby?
on 17 May 2012
Note - This review is specific to the excellent Region 1 Shout Factory release, and NOT the terrible Region 2 Mediumrare effort.
Lt. Theo Kojak - probably one of the coolest telly detectives of them all. Played with infinite charm by Telly Savalas, Kojak is a tough New York policeman who is about as straight as you can get, doing his best to keep the innocent citizenry safe. A character with wit and intelligence, a heart, and a no-nonsense approach which allows the rules to be bent if it means bringing a villain to justice. Savalas is perfect in the role, his imposing physical presence filling the screen and his magnetic charm keeping you glued to the set. With his nattily dressed style, deep reassuring voice and well chosen naturalistic sounding `street' dialogue, Kojak is an impressive and believable construct, almost a living being rather than a work of fiction.
The joy of the series for me is that while it has a strong central character in the form of Kojak, it also has a very strong supporting cast, especially Dan Frazer as Kojak's Captain, and Kevin Dobson as Crocker, Kojak's number two. Kojak might have the brain that fits the pieces together, but the detective work shown here relies on a team, all doing the boring stuff of checking files and making endless phonecalls in order to find the clues Kojak needs. It's as much about the team as it is about the main character. That the script writers managed to make mundane policework look so interesting is a testament to their abilities. There is also quite a bit of comic interplay between Kojak and Stavros, played by Savalas' real life brother George, which never feels too jokey or out of place - it comes across as tough men doing a tough job letting off a bit of steam, another credit to writers and performers.
Beautifully remastered and with great sound, these look and sound fantastic. As far as I can tell the episodes are uncut. The quality of the release is superb, far superior to the poor Region 2 effort that we have had for a few years now. The European release had faded colours, interference, colour leaking and blurriness in picture and sound. The American release is taken from a much better source, and the picture and sound are both pin sharp with a real vibrancy to the colours. I will definitely be waiting for Shout Factory to release Series Five rather than buy the European release. I have hopes that this will be soon, as Shout Factory have just released a complete Kojak films set, including the Marcus Nelson Murders inexplicably omitted from Universal's release of series 1 a few years ago, and they look set to release the rest of the Kojak catalogue.
An excellent set, a real gem in my DVD collection. 5 stars, no hesitation.