From P.I's to mystery writers, shows featuring investigators are big hits on DVD. They're about to get some company when Arts Alliance America, and TV Guide, release the first season of Banacek, out today on DVD. Banacek began as a TV movie in early 1972, then joined NBC's Wednesday Mystery Movie lineup later that season where it ran for 2 years (16 episodes). George Peppard's portrayal of Thomas Banacek may remind you of Hannibal Smith, his character from The A-Team; both characters smoked cigars (Peppard's own brand), and had a cheeky sense of humor. Banacek and Peppard shared their Polish-American heritage, which lead to some of the funniest moments in the show - the old Polish proverbs. Here are some of Banacek's gems:
A wise man never tries to warm himself in front of a painting of a fire.
Only the centipede can hear all the footsteps of his uncle.
A truly wise man never plays leap frog with a unicorn.
Though the hippopotamus has no stinger in his tail, the wise man would rather be sat on by the bee.
Thomas Banacek is all about the money, and he certainly makes a lot of it. He works for insurance companies that hire him to solve the crime so they don't have to make a big payout on a policy. He takes 10% of the policy for his fee, which can net him a 6 figure salary if he solves the crime. You'll recognize a number of familiar faces in these episodes, including Colby Chester, Michael Lerner, Stefanie Powers, Robert Webber, Bruce Kirby, Alan Fudge, Gordon Pinsent, Margot Kidder, Brenda Vaccaro, Michael Masters, Mike Farrell, Linden Chiles, Jessica Walter and Penny Marshall.
Investigator shows have been around on DVD almost since the format debuted. Let's take a look at some of the shows Banacek is joining.
The earliest series released on DVD featuring an investigator wasn't your typical "whodunnit" series at all. The Night Stalker/The Night Strangler, starring Darren McGavin as reporter Carl Kolchak. The early-70s TV movies proved to be popular enough for ABC to pick up the series in 1974. The monsters didn't get Kolchak, but the ratings did; the show was cancelled after 1 season, and 20 episodes, which was longer than the two seasons of Banacek, though Banacek wasn't cancelled because of ratings, Peppard decided to quit the show. That may seem strange, but Peppard was divorcing Elizabeth Ashley, and didn't want her to receive more money as a settlement. Sounds like a nasty divorce!
While Kolchak lurked in the darkness chasing vampires and boogeymen, our next series featured a romantic look at the detective business through the doors of the Blue Moon Detective Agency. The pilot for Moonlighting was released in January, 2000, but it wasn't until May, 2005 that fans got to enjoy the first and second seasons of the show that made Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd household names. The show was known for its combination of comedy and drama, along with a twist of sexual tension between the main characters, David and Maddie. Banacek didn't have any co-workers, but he always managed to find a beautiful woman to flirt with.
We've gone from an investigative reporter to a detective duo, and now we'll take a look at a gang - probably the most famous group of detectives around. That's right, I'm talking about Scooby-Doo and the Scooby gang (officially known at "Mystery, Inc."). A sample" disc consisting of 5 episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in was released in March, 2000, and followed by several other single-disc releases. It wasn't until March, 2004 that they released the series in a set they called "Seasons 1 and 2."
September, 2004 saw the release of one of the great PI shows, Magnum, P.I. starring Tom Selleck. Magnum looked like he was made of money; he had a nice car, and a house on the beach, but he was driving a car owned by writer Robin Masters, and lived in his guest house. Magnum would have loved the type of paychecks Banacek got.
Another iconic P.I. The Rockford Files was released in 2005. Created by Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins, the show starred James Garner as Jim Rockford, a former con (wrongfully convicted, of course), who lived in a trailer... which also doubled as his office. He would charge $200 a day, plus expenses, though his fee would often go uncollected - he certainly wasn't living the life that Banacek lead!
On May 15 Arts Alliance America, along with TV Guide, will release the first season of Banacek to DVD. The 2-disc set includes all 8 episodes from the first season, along with a photo gallery and TV Guide crossword puzzle, You can find the set at your local retailer, or it can be purchased at www.artsallianceamerica.com
This advertorial was paid for by Arts Alliance America.