Sunday, June 03, 2007

THIS JUST OUT: Banacek Season One

Though I am probably in the minority here, I am excited about the recent release of Season One of Banacek on DVD. A cop drama from the early 1970s, Banacek starred George Peppard as a Polish-American insurance investigator with a penchant for reciting obscure Polish proverbs while smoking a cigarillo and wearing far too form-fitting turtlenecks and leisure pants. My primary joy in Banacek has been that, though set in Boston, the entire series was filmed either on the back lot at Universal or on location in Los Angeles, and I have enjoyed it as a sort of treasure hunt of LA streets and neighborhoods, much the way I do Rockford Files and CHiPs. But in watching reruns of the show during its short stint on KDOC, I have become familiar with certain elements of the Banacek character. Several things remain constant throughout: Banacek always solves the impossible to solve case, always has leggy women simply falling all over him, and is always self-consciously enjoying the most expensive of everything. So I ask myself, whose fantasy was this? It seems to me that the entire series is simply a middle-aged man's dream life escape from his ordinary humdrum existence. While Banacek is decidedly unbelievable as an irresistibly handsome millionaire genius, this is exactly what we are asked to believe of him. In its original pitch to the network the series must have been intended as a prolonged dream sequence framed within two explanatory episodes in which the mediocre, lonely, insurance salesman Banacek is knocked unconscious by a rogue pot of African violets only to wake up after a delicious fantasy of beautiful women, witty one-liners, and fantastic wealth to find that he is, once again, just a common wage slave. At least this is my reading and, I have to say, the series is much more believable this way.

Though you might want to just rent this one, it can be bought at Amazon and though you won't find much in the way of unqualified praise for this show, there are some fans out there. Check out these clips from YouTube:

No comments: