Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Mod Squad! Season One, Volume 2 out today - Paramount (*****5/10)

Boy, did I ever miss out when I was younger. Or, more accurately, by being born too late. I did not get to see Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Syd Barrett, The 13th Floor Elevators or the other cultural icons of the sixties do their thing. I never got to see the Beatles perform, I was nowhere when JFK was shot, I was unable to experience Paul Henderson's goal for myself, and I missed out on The Mod Squad. Well, thankfully this fine show was preserved in a sixties time capsule for me by the good people at Paramount and released today in a glorious 4-disc DVD box set! The main thing I took from this show was that at one point, Clarence Williams III was a major star of a major show. Was this a major show? I don't even really know. Oh, he's still around, playing bit parts in movies such as American Gangster and ridiculous parts in movies such as Half Baked and Reindeer Games. But he is the only cast member I recognize. Michael Cole looks a lot like Roger Daltrey to me, which was likely a perfect casting choice for the time, but I don't see his name in the credits of any movie since 1992's classic Triple Impact. And Peggy Lipton was definitely hot in 1969, and she has kept working over these past 40 years, but in nothing significant enough that anyone would have seen it.

The main premise of the show is that three "street kids" are recruited by the cops to work undercover, rather than go to prison. They are continually referred to as kids, despite the fact that Michael Cole was clearly 48 at the time of filming. I guess he paved the way for the likes of Luke Perry in later years. The "kids" talk jive to one another, and at the end of each episode, ruminate wisely about the events that have just taken place, and how those events may well shape the rest of their bright futures. I assume this show was a fairly big one , simply because in later years Claire Danes was recruited to create a movie version of the program. Much like Starsky and Hutch, Miami Vice, and every other movie based on a TV program, The Mod Squad movie sucked.

But watching this show reminded me of the old days. Days when I would come home after a night out and sit by the TV, watching The Simpsons late, and afterward a program called Funky Squad. Does anyone remember this show? It was clearly something that CTV had dredged up from the 70s, and was also an obvious parody of The Mod Squad. Since I was rarely in a straightforward state when I watched this program, I can't recall if it was good or not, but I do remember finding it hilarious at the time. If there is one show that is ripe for parody, it's The Mod Squad. It just isn't ripe for a Hollywood movie ripoff. The Mod Squad, Season One, Volume 2, comes out on DVD today courtesy of Paramount, and it contains some classic episodes, like When Julie's Mom Comes To Visit, and The Crime Ring That Extorts The Parents Of Young Babies.

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