Last night I was up late working and I was kept entertained throughout my mind numbing task by some classic television episodes on DVD.
I first watched an episode of Mad Men from Season 1. “Hobo Code” was an entertaining episode that saw some character development. I’m always entertained by Mad Men. It’s one of the best crafted shows in recent times. Stylish, deliberate, and captivating are three words I would use to describe it.
Next, I watched an old episode of Ellery Queen from the seventies. The Ellery Queen series was just recently released on DVD after a long wait and I have to say, I’m enjoying being able to watch it again. They cram a lot of twists and characters into each hour long episode. And of course, there is the breaking of the fourth wall toward the end of the episode where Ellery challenges the viewer to solve the case. I enjoy the guest stars sprinkled throughout. Granted they are mostly B and C list character actors, but each episode is full of familiar faces. Last night found Pernell Roberts of Bonanza and Trapper John M.D. fame, dressed as an East Indian porter.
And then I topped the night off with my favorite show of any genre. In the late sixties, Patrick McGoohan created possibly the greatest psychological exercise in the history of television. Before the guys over on Lost ever messed with everyone’s minds, McGoohan crafted a taught psychological drama that raised more questions than it ever answered. As a former spy who resigned for undetermined reasons, McGoohan is taken to a quaint village where names have been replaced with numbers and there is no hope of escape. Number 6, played by McGoohan, carries out a never ending struggle against the powers that be. “Checkmate” was the episode I watched last night.
Back in the Nineties, TV Land used to show the Ellery Queen series starring Jim Hutton and David Wayne. This short lived series is one of my favorite mystery series. The series actually prompted me to begin reading the old Ellery Queen mysteries. The series was rare in that, in the tradition of the novels, Ellery broke the “fourth wall” and directly challenged the audience to solve the crime toward the end of each episode.
Sadly, for years, I couldn’t find anything but expensive, yet poor quality bootlegs of the series. But now, the series is available on DVD.
Although the series doesn’t follow the novels, the episodes for the most part capture the qualities of the characters that made the Ellery Queen novels a pleasure to read. Hutton and Wayne took some liberties with their characters. You will find Ellery slightly less of a dandy and the Inspector doesn’t snort snuff. But overall the episodes are a intelligent treat for mystery lovers.