Thursday, June 27, 2019

"Murder Can Hurt You", ABC, 1980

 You know, I halfway thought I made it up.

 In the late spring of 1980, ABC aired a television movie called Murder Can Hurt You. It was a spoof of television police detectives that made up a surprisingly large percentage of regular network viewing in the '70s. Undoubtedly inspired by 1976's Murder By Death, Neil Simon's brilliant parody of your famous literary "super-genius, sort of weird" detectives of the '30s & '40s, this followed much the same formula: tired of the tropes & cliches, an evil mastermind gathers some of fictional law enforcement's snoopers - their traits & eccentricities highly exaggerated, & roasts all of them for the tired plots, the recycled story lines, & increasingly bland characters.

 Except it's not very good. It's not funny. It's not clever. The impersonations & parodies aren't good. It's sluggish. It was written by a guy who did a mess of late '60s/early '70s sitcoms like Happy Days Gilligan's Island, as well as toy leech favorites like Transformers & G.I. Joe. It smacks of "we need a comedy to fill a dead night, finish it by this weekend" air about it. There are a couple clever, short gags, but most of the actual jokes land with a thud. That, or whatever wit happens gets smeared into the ground by repetition.

 The cast is sort of weird. Burt Young plays a somnabulistic Columbo. Buck Owens can't act at all, bless his ol' heart, but he's playing a parody of Dennis Weaver's "cowboy in the big city" McCloud. And at one point, he's wearing longjohns & you can see his package. You know, I love Buck Owens & I've always read his life went to shit, both artistically & personally, when longtime guitar player/right brain Don Rich died in a motorcycle accident in 1974, & I just thought people were being shitty about Hee Haw. Whew, son. Thank goodness for Dwight Yoakam.

 Anyhow. It's not good. Granted, apart from Colombo, I never cared for the "cop detective" shows. I prefer the private eye like Rockford Files. Even at a young age & fairly conservative, parochial mindframe, I didn't care for the whole idea of cops. I don't know if that's what turned off of them or if it was just a matter of which channel the antenna could pull in.

 You can go to IMDB or Wikipedia & look it up yourself. I come across it today or YouTube, but I'm not sure it was worth taking up space in my brain for 39 years, but there you go.

 Boy, that was bad.

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