TV mysteries


   I’ve asked Ian Dickerson, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

IAN DICKERSON – Who Is The Falcon?: The Detective In Print, Movies, Radio and TV. Purview Press. softcover, December 2016.

   Back in the dim and distant past, when I was just a lad, I discovered the adventures of the Saint. (I know, I know, I’ve kept that quiet….) In those heady days I was a sucker for any new Saint-like adventure so when the BBC ran out of old black and white Saint films to show and moved onto something called ‘The Falcon.’ my place in front of the television was assured for a few more weeks.

   Those early Falcon films were remarkably Saintly, and although the later ones got a little more creative — The Falcon and the Co-Eds anyone? — they were still firmly in the gentleman detective genre and my teen -aged self was happy.

   Fast forward a few years — well, okay, quite a few years — and I discovered old time radio shows. But I soon had a problem, I had all the episodes of The Saint on tape and being greedy I wanted more. Then I discovered the Falcon had also appeared on radio! Aha, problem solved I thought! But when I listened to the tapes I discovered the Falcon — that radio Falcon — was a hard boiled 1940s PI and bore virtually no resemblance to the gentleman detective of the George Sanders and Tom Conway films. At a time when the Internet was only really just booting up, I had no way of establishing what had happened, but I rather enjoyed those hard-boiled PI adventures so quickly ordered some more.

   Fast forward a few more years and with the help of the now mature Internet, I discovered that not only had the Falcon also appeared in books, magazines and on TV, but that the radio show had run for over a decade and there had been over four hundred and eighty episodes.

   I wanted to learn things; to find out why there were two different characters and how they’d come to be changed, to find out more about the Falcon’s TV adventures and see if I could find copies of them, I also wanted to know more about his stint on radio — who played him? Who wrote the stories? What were they about? And for the geek in me … had I listened to all the ones that were available? (I certainly have now!)

   And I wanted to celebrate a character that had survived sixteen films, a handful of books, thirty-nine episodes of television and that long run on radio.

   So I wrote a book.

   Who is the Falcon? tells the story of all the Falcon’s adventures in print, on radio, in film and television. And there’s even a Falcon short story from the 1940s thrown in for good measure.

REVIEWED BY DAVID VINEYARD:


MARLOWE. ABC / Touchstone, TV Movie/pilot, 2007. Jason O’Mara (Philip Marlowe), Adam Goldberg, Clayton Rohner, Jamie Ray Newman, Amanda Righetti, Lisa LoCicero, Marcus A. Ferraz. Teleplay by Greg Pruss & Carol Wolper, based on the character created by Raymond Chandler. Directed by Rob Bowman.

   “Let her go, she’s trouble.”
   “Trouble is my business.”

   Slick pilot for a series that never developed, Marlowe features Jason O’Mara (Agents of SHIELD) as Raymond Chandler’s metaphor-and-simile-laden private eye, a good man in the mean streets of 21rst Century Los Angeles, and O’Mara’s tough, human, wounded Marlowe is easily the best thing about this well-intentioned updating of the classic character.

   Marlowe is following a playboy his client suspects is having an affair with his wife when he hears a scream and Traci Faye (Jamie Ray Newman) comes running from the man’s home. Inside Marlowe finds the man he is following dead.

   When the police arrive, in the person of Marlowe’s cop pal Frank Olmer (Adam Goldberg), they arrest Tracy for the murder, and when they have to let her go, she comes to Marlowe for help, thus the little dialogue above between Marlowe and his sexy mothering secretary Jessica (Amanda Righetti).

   The tricky thing about LA is the lies can feel like the truth, and the truth feel like a lie.

   Before long Marlowe has stumbled on a crooked real estate development deal, taken a dive into that famous “black pool” thanks to psychotic Zack Battas (Marcus A. Ferraz), and ended up locked in his car with no way out in the middle of oncoming freeway traffic. He also resists seduction by his client’s wife (Lisa LoCicero) and does not resist Tracy before he uncovers the lies and deceptions leading to the real killer.

   There are some good lines that show the people involved at least know their Chandler:

    “You think she’s not my type? What is it, the clothes?” Marlowe asks a bar owner friend about one of Traci’s girlfriends.
    “That and your general disdain for women who can’t start a sentence without using the word ‘I’.”

   I’m divided on this one. On the one hand O’Mara makes for an attractive and human Marlowe — there is one very good scene between he and the actress playing his client where he loses his temper and in doing so sees the frightened little girl under the seductive exterior — and the plot is actually much more complex than usual for television in keeping with Chandler.

   On the other Marlowe is very much a fish out of water in 21st Century LA, and no one but O’Mara seems to be doing much more than going through the motions, though Newman has that one good scene, and Adam Goldberg is good as his world weary cop buddy. At times everything seems too bright and fresh and new to be classic Marlowe (his office is more 77 Sunset Strip than the Bradbury Building and his secretary more Velda from Mike Hammer than anything in Chandler).

   Over all I recommend it with reservations, if only for O’Mara’s humane Marlowe, it is one of those what might have been situations, where you can see it being very good or going very wrong fast.

   The awful thing about the truth is having to tell it to somebody.

   That’s not half bad, which is pretty much what you can say for this pilot, and considering, that is more of a recommendation than it may sound.

REVIEWED BY MICHAEL SHONK:


HIGH TIDE. Syndicated, 1994-1997. ACI -Franklin/Waterman 2. Cast: Rick Springfield as Mick Barrett and Yannick Bisson as Joey Barrett. Supporting Cast: Season One: George Segal as Gordon, and Diana Frank or Cay Helmich as Fritz. Season Two: Julie Cialini as Annie. Season Three: Deborah Shelton as Grace Warner and David Graf as Jay Cassidy. Created by Jeff Franklin and Steve Waterman.

   With the increasing popularity of cable in the 1990s, there was a growing number of syndicated programs to fill the content needs of the new cable stations. The cheesy action comedy was one of the more common genres. This type of series often featured beautiful locations and gorgeous half-naked men and women, action but limited violence, and scripts filled with endless TV tropes.

   High Tide was such a series. It survived three seasons with a slightly different premise and location each season.

   Season One was filmed in New Zealand. Mick is an ex-cop who blames himself for his partner’s death. He and his not too bright, impulsive younger brother Joey live the life of surf bums.

   Interrupting the brothers’ life of bikini watching and surfing was Gordon, an ex-CIA agent now L.A. restaurateur who constantly gets the boys involved in helping one of his many gorgeous young goddaughters. Conveniently the young ladies usually get in trouble where there is surfing nearby. As to be expected with a TV series devoted to using as many TV tropes as possible, Gordon’s assistant is the young beautiful Fritz (played by Diana Frank or Cay Helmich).

   A note about the cast. Both Rick Springfield and George Segal are well enough known stars of TV and films without listing their credits. However it should be mentioned that Yannick Bisson played Joey the younger brother. Today Bisson can be seen as the star of the long running Canadian hit series Murdoch Mysteries.

   Some may notice the name of Tim Minear in the behind the line credits such as writer, story editor, or co-producer. Minear has become one of Hollywood’s top critically acclaimed TV producers today with series such as Terriers (2010), American Horror Show (2012-17) and Feud (2017-18).


REVENGE IS SWEET. November 26, 1994. Written by Martin Cutler and Tim Minear. Directed by Catherine Millar. Guest Cast: Kenneth McGregor and John Dybuig. *** Someone from Mick’s past wants him dead.

   A break from Mick and Joey’s weekly rescue of a beautiful woman in trouble, this episode focuses on Mick’s backstory. Rarely rising above clichés, it lacks suspense and fails to make us care. As a typical syndicated series of the time, it is a mindless, but not the worst, way to kill an hour of your life.

   Mick’s beloved Mustang is impounded for failure to pay parking tickets. A cop with a grudge against Mick since Mick’s police academy days arrests Mick. Revealed to be a computer glitch, Mick is let go only to be unable to find his car.

   Mysteriously his car is returned, but it has a warning from someone who threatens to kill Mick. Mick is then framed for murder. Mick finds himself on the run from the cops while trying to find out who wants him dead.


   Season Two had the production company leave New Zealand for San Diego. Story-wise the brothers leave Los Angeles and Gordon and Fritz behind to open a surf shop in San Diego called High Tide. There, Mick and Joey spend more time rescuing old friends and strangers than actually running the shop.

   Annie the High Tide employee was played by Playboy Playmate of 1995 Julie Cialini. During the second season the series hired Playboy models for minor roles and background.

   The second season aired in 80% of the country or 90 markets including all Top 25 markets. The ratings in United States were low but better overseas (Broadcasting, July 17, 1995).


CODE NAME: SCORPION. March 4, 1996. Written by Chris Baena. Directed by John Grant Weil. Guest Cast: Chip Mayer, Josie Davis, and Donna D’Errico. *** Mick reunites with his goddaughter whose ex-CIA agent father died years ago. She is a champion Pro beach volleyball player on tour. She is staying with the brothers when she is kidnapped.

   The second season increases the close-ups of female butts and boobs. Predictable with clumsy writing and weak acting, the series continues to rely on visual scenery and the brothers’ relationship to keep the viewers from changing channels.


   In Season Three the production moves again, this time to Ventura CA. Mick and Joey have sold their failed surf shop High Tide. Mick wishes to live the life of the surf bum, but Joey wants to find a paying job of adventure.

   Continuing its theme of teen male wish fulfillment, the third and final season has Grace, a gorgeous rich woman offering the brothers her luxurious guest beach house in Santa Barbara as a place to stay rent free.

   Mick and Joey decide to become full time PIs. Jay, an ex-cop friend of Mick’s who sells real estate and is a bails bondsman, offers the brothers assignments to track down bail jumpers.

STARTING OVER. September 22, 1996: Written by Chris Baena. Directed by Chris O’Neil. Guest Cast: Rob Farrior and Lyman Ward. *** A rich powerful man’s spoiled son beats a man to death. When he skips bail the brothers are hired to find him and bring him back.



   High Tide was an average harmless syndicated action series meant to appeal to teen boys and those viewers seeking to abandon their brains for sixty minutes. Nice to look at and at times fun to watch, the series never rose above cotton candy for the eyes.


   This review by Mike Doran first appeared on this blog as Comment #28 to my review of “Legend of Crystal Dark,” an earlier episode of 77 Sunset Strip, one from season two. Thinking that his comments deserved a wider audience, I asked Mike if I might post it here as well. He most graciously agreed:


REVIEWED BY MIKE DORAN:


77 SUNSET STRIP “The Target.” ABC, 24 January 1964 (Season 6, Episode 18.) Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Stuart Bailey), Keith Andes, Jeanne Cooper, Joan Staley, Lyle Talbot, Les Tremayne, Forrest Lewis, Shirley Mitchell, Lawrence Dobkin, James Lydon, Tony Barrett, William Conrad. Producer: William Conrad. Associate producer: James Lydon. Executive producer: Jack Webb. Writer: Lawrence Dobkin. Director: Tony Barrett.

   As of last week, MeTV completed the 6th season of 77 Sunset Strip, which means it is no longer “lost.”

   I suppose someone will be writing up the whole season for you, someone far more knowledgeable than I.

   That said, I’d like to talk about “The Target,” which was third from last to run on ABC (the rerun season went back to the Version Originale).

   “The Target” was about an ex-reporter (Keith Andes), just out of prison on a bum rap, who gets shot at just as he arrives home.

   It seems that Andes has been writing The Book that will blow the lid off some racketeers old and older; these make up Stu Bailey’s suspect pool.

   On a hunch, I held off watching this one until the end, after seeing all the others — the majority of which, in my view, could have easily been done on the old show in the old style.

   I’m talking about the plots; the main difference between old-style and new-style was amputating Efrem Zimbalist’s manners; the suave, well-spoken Bailey of old-style became a snarling wiseacre who was grubbing for a buck, insulting everybody along the way.

   This approach didn’t last long; as season 6 progressed, Bailey became less gratuitously nasty. (He’d suddenly developed a ferocious hatred for police, which would have definitely shocked Lt. Roy Gilmore; this was the first characteristic of nu-Bailey to go.)

   About midway through the cycle, Bailey’s unseen stenographer Hannah suddenly became seen, in the person of the above-average-looking Joan Staley; her presence turned Old Stu into a major flirt (and don’t think that certain recent headlines about a Major Hollywood Figure didn’t occur to me while I was watching).

   I might also mention that the 77SS opening titles were changed about the same time; Zimbalist’s mournful ascent within the Bradbury Building gave way to a long tracking shot of Old Stu walking the Mean Streets at night.

   I digress; back to “The Target.”

   I mentioned above that I saved watching this to last. Beforehand, I learned something about it that led me to believe that “The Target” was intended to be the Final Episode of 77.

   It was the casting of three of the to-be-exposed mob types:

       Bill Conrad (Producer) as a semi-crooked fight promoter.

       Lawrence Dobkin (Director) as a publisher who started out in nudie books.

       Tony Barrett (Writer) as a retired procurer.

   … And as a Bonus for the dweebs in the crowd: James Lydon (Associate Producer) as a convict who starts Stu Bailey out in his investigation.

   About this last:

   During this time, one of our local Chicago stations was running a well-known series of comedy features from the ’40s, which my family watched faithfully every Saturday afternoon.We’d stopped watching 77 by this point, but now I wish we hadn’t.

   Thinking back, my brother, sisters, and I might have gotten a charge out of our Dad telling us all:

   “Look at that, guys – Henry Aldrich is in the clink!”

   Anyhow, this sort-of group appearance by the 77 Sunset Strip front office seems to be to be a grand gesture of a kind from Old Hollywood Pros who knew the end was near and decided to have a little fun on the way out.

   * … unless, of course, I’m wrong …

POLICE STATION. Syndicated. Official Films / Paramount-Sunset Television Productions, 1959-? Untitled episode (Season 1, #8?). Baynes Barron, Larry Kerr, Henry Beckman, Roy Wright. Guest Cast: Ron Masak, Michael Vandever. Produced, written & directed by Sandy Howard.

   A Dragnet wanna-be that lasted one season of 39 syndicated episodes, of which only one, perhaps two, have managed to survive. It’s not very good, and I’m covering it here only because.

   There are two cases the cops are working on throughout this episode. The first is that of two 16-years-olds who have been killed in a gang war, city not specified. The second, not nearly as serious, is that of a aged female con artist who gratefully promises to quit the racket. Does she? Wait for the ending to see.

   As for the gang war deaths, the cops have two possible suspects, and they play them off each other until they can be sure which one is the one who pulled the trigger. It’s competently done, but not by late 1950s standards, done in by the cheap sets (furnished from a local second-hand furniture store), uninspired camera work, and the mediocre acting by one of the participants.

BERNIE GUNTHER, P.I. STILL COMING TO HBO
by Gilbert Colon

   At Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop in April to promote his twelfth Bernie Gunther private eye novel, Prussian Blue, author Philip Kerr was asked by an audience member about whether a Bernie series or movie was still in the works.

   “Like everything in film, it’s glacial,” he answered. The project (which would draw from the Berlin Noir trilogy) was at HBO in 2016 when Kerr was at the same venue while promoting his previous entry, The Other Side of Silence.

   Since then, HBO experienced a change in management, “and the new management was going to sweep it out with everything else that was old.” But to Kerr’s surprise, it turns out that it remains in “quite active development, whatever that means,” that concluding qualifier dripping with a cynicism worthy of Bernie himself.

   Maintaining a hopefulness from the jaded romantic side of Bernie, he adds, “It took Harry Bosch 20-25 years to get where he is.” Tom Hanks was connected with the Bernie project as executive producer at least as far back as 2012 when, per Kerr, “He came to my house in Wimbledon for dinner.”

   More recent industry news indicates that he likely is still involved. If that remains the case, perhaps Hanks, who directed the Raymond Chandler episode “I’ll Be Waiting” for Showtime’s superb but forgotten Fallen Angels series (1993-1995), should direct one episode. At last report, Peter Straughan, who scripted the 2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was mentioned as screenwriter.

   Bernie Gunther, for those who do not know, is an ex-SD officer who worked for Reinhard Heydrich before becoming a private investigator. Kerr has taken Bernie through three decades, five continents, and a dozen novels to date. Prussian Blue sees him in both 1939 and 1956. As Kripo’s superlative homicide detective, Bernie is assigned by Martin Bormann to the murder case of a low-ranking bureaucrat at Obersalzberg, home to an elite Nazi community and Hitler’s mountaintop retreat.

   The clock is ticking before the Führer returns to celebrate his fiftieth birthday and discovers a shocking crime has been committed on the terrace of his own residence. The past explosively collides with the present when, seventeen years later on the French Riviera, the freelance Bernie is strong-armed by East German Stasi to poison a female agent in London with a vial of thallium.

   Questioned about casting Bernie for any adaptation, Kerr rattles off the same list of names he did last time, as reported in The Strand Magazine: Klaus Maria Brandauer (Mephisto), Arnold Schwarzenegger (“believe it or not”), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), and Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method). (Fassbender, incidentally, will be playing another series character this year, Jo Nesbø’s Detective Harry Hole, in The Snowman.)

   New names surface during this appearance though. “Jon Voight wanted to be Bernie, and Woody Harrelson said so in magazines. For all I know they’ve cast [Bernie] already.” The author is always the last to know.

   “I won’t be doing any cameos,” he assures, “the way Lee Child does in the Jack Reacher movies. Except if they offer me a scene as a really nasty Gestapo officer. I could really bring something to that.” With a smart-alecky smirk, he wisecracks, “I really just want one of those leather coats, that is the bottom line.”

   While Kerr has a wicked sense of irony, he is never flippant about the grave historical aspects of his series. When the question is raised about comparisons between Bernie Gunther and Philip Marlowe, Kerr says, “Chandler [and his L.A.] had corrupt politicians and nightclub owners, but my novels have the crime of the century – the millennium – as a backdrop.

   “I don’t think I’m exploiting the subject matter. The books are an essay in understanding.”

GILBERT COLON has written for several print and online publications, including Filmfax, Cinema Retro, Crimespree, Crime Factory, and Strand Mystery Magazine. He is a contributor-at-large for both the St. Martin’s Press newsletter Tor.com and bare•bones e-zine. You may reach him at gcolon777@gmail.com.

HOLLYWOOD OFF-BEAT
by Michael Shonk


HOLLWOOD OFF-BEAT. Syndicated, 1952; United Television Programs. Cast: Melvyn Douglas as Steve Randall. Executive Producer: Marion Parsonnet. Produced by Theodore Lewis.

   This series reminds me much of Cases of Eddie Drake as another example where DuMont gets credit when it deserves none. Eddie has been a personal crusade for me for awhile, and I have written about him here four times (here, here, here and here ) and finally at the website “Criminal Element.”

   Hollywood Off-Beat was always a syndicated series. United Television Programs (number two in TV syndication behind Ziv) had “already started a test run in some cities” before its “official opening” March 30, 1952 (Broadcasting 3/17/52). DuMont is credited with airing the series November 17, 1952 through January 30, 1953.

   Besides the episode that Steve just reviewed (“The Trial”) there is another episode available to watch on YouTube:

“The Unlucky Three.” Guest Cast: Berry Kroeger, John Griggs and Marion Brash. Original screenplay by Franz Spencer. Directed by M. Milton Schwarz. *** Did the famous actress kill herself or was she murdered?

   The script gives a nice peek at behind the scenes of Hollywood filmmaking, as well as a serviceable mystery. Fortunately Douglas doing narration in third person is limited to the opening, with the rest of the episode narration is the typical fourth wall breaking talk to the audience.

   The only place I found the series called Steve Randall was in one article in Broadcasting (12/8/52) reporting the series would air on DuMont as Steve Randall at Friday 8-8:30pm.

   The article in Broadcasting (3/17/52) named Rip Van Ronkle (Destination Moon) as writer and Marion Parsonnet (Gilda) as producer. It reported the series filmed its background shots in documentary style in Los Angeles and the rest of the series in Parsonnet Studios (according to screen credit Long Island NY).

   Both Broadcasting and Billboard always called Hollywood Offbeat a syndicated series. The ARP ratings printed in Billboard had it as a “Non-Network” TV Film Drama series. Hollywood Offbeat got honorable mention in poll for popular non-network film drama series (Billboard, 9/6/52). The press listed the series as Hollywood Offbeat but the on air screen title spelled it Hollywood Off-Beat.

   Now about the confusion over its time on CBS, the answer can be found in Billboard (9/13/52). The trade paper was reporting on the networks problems with “clearance” – number of local affiliates that would carry the network program.

   The makers of Serutan owned the CBS Saturday at 10:30 to 11 pm slot. The series CBS carried was Battle of the Ages that only 12 CBS stations aired. CBS could not find a series that Serutan wanted. Serutan decided it wanted Hollywood Offbeat. CBS TV Films, CBS syndicated side, negotiated with UTP for a temporary deal for the series to appear on the CBS network. The series had only 13 episodes and it gave CBS time to find another series that more affiliates would carry and would make advertiser Serutan happy.

   It is hard to actually know what a true DuMont series is as the network often used syndicated shows to fill its schedule. CBS TV Films’ Cases of Eddie Drake and UTP’s Hollywood Off-Beat are just two examples of series misremembered by history.

HOLLYWOOD OFFBEAT “The Trial.” Syndicated / Dumont Network / CBS. 11 September 1952 (WJZ). Dates: 30 January 1953 (Dumont). Not aired on CBS. Episode 13 of 13. Series also known as Steve Randall. Melvyn Douglas (as Steve Randall). Guest cast: Olive Deering, Neil Fitzgerald, Steve Gethers, Melville Ruick, Harry Sheppard, Ed Peck. Executive Producer:Marion Parsonnet. Produced by Theodore Lewis. Original story by Frederick Stephanie. Screenplay by James Cavanaugh. Directors: M. Milton Schwarz & Frederick Stephanie.

   All of the information above came from the Classic TV Archive website. The credits themselves I am sure are correct. The complicated history of when the series was on, where, and under what name is perhaps more iffy.

   That this is the final show of the very short-lived series is definite. The premise is that Steve Randall (Melvyn Douglas) is a disbarred lawyer is is now working as a Hollywood PI, but in this episode he is promised by the D.A.’s office that he will be reinstated if he helps persuade a balky female witness to testify in an upcoming murder trial.

   Which indeed he does. The story is somewhat confusing at the beginning, with each of the several characters and the basic story line needing to be introduced all at once, in only a few minutes time. Compounding this are the flashbacks in time used to set the stage for the trial that takes up most of the less than 30 minutes running time.

   Although the names of the cast members were totally unknown to me (other than Melvyn Douglas, of course), I thought the acting was much better than most of similar relics of early low budget TV. The gimmick that cracks the trial wide open is one of the oldest in the books, but all in all, I’d watch another in this series, if there was one that’s available to watch.

   You can see this one at www.archives.org.

  I’M THE LAW “The Killer.” Syndicated; Cosman Productions / Television Corporation of America. 3 July 1953. (Season 1, Episode 21). George Raft (Police Lt. George Kirby). Guest Cast: Lawrence Dobkin, Nestor Paiva, June Vincent. Screenplay: Jackson Gillis. Director: Robert G. Walker.

   I’m the Law was a syndicated mystery series starring George Raft that ran for 29 episodes in different markets in 1953. Raft played a New York City police lieutenant who wore a hat and a a bulky overcoat no matter the weather, inside and out (if this one episode I recently happened upon typified the rest of the series).

   And let me say up front that this particular episode is not very good. It begins with a public stenographer being bumped off by a mobster because she was given too many secrets to type up. And whose fault is that? Her death is made to to look like an automobile accident (I think), but the marks on her neck indicate right away that she was strangled.

   The black and white photography is good, and it’s always fun to see familiar actors’ faces again, but you can turn your mind off while watching rest of this one, in case you ever do. George Raft is no better (or worse) than many similar roles he played over the years.

JESSICA JONES “AKA Ladies Night.” Marvel/Netflix. 10 October 2015 (Season 1, Episode 1). Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker), Erin Moriarty, Eka Darville, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Tennant (Kilgrave). Created and written by Melssa Rosenberg. Based on the Marvel comic book character created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. Director: SJ Clarkson.

   To tell you the truth, I’ve already watched the first three episodes of this series, mostly since it took me a while to be sure I had a solid grip on the story line. The goal of a first episode of a TV series is to get viewers interested enough to be sure come back for the next one, but not necessarily to reveal all of their secrete at once, especially if there is a long connected story line, and not just a bunch of one-off episodes.

   Maybe it’s me, and I haven’t adjusted to a new type of storytelling, but I think the producers of this series may have erred in not telling enough, or (perhaps) telling it too subtly. It could also be that they expected viewers to be more familiar with the characters from their background in comic books than I think they are. (It’s certainly not one of Marvel’s best known titles.)

   Jessica Jones, currently a private eye working on her own, is a flawed character, there’s no doubt about that. Something has happened in her past that makes it difficult for her to sleep at night, and worse, requires her to have a bottle or a flask of whiskey within arm’s reach whenever she’s awake. The first episode is designed to get us intrigued into learning more about what’s tormenting her, but it did take me all three episodes before I decided that, yes, I finally was sure was the overall story is about and the possible ways it could be going.

   I’ll get back to that. In this first episode she’s hired by a man and woman from Omaha, Nebraska, to find their daughter, who has dropped out of school and has gone missing. I don’t want to spoil anything to anyone who would like to see the show and hasn’t yet, but I will have to leave some hints, such as saying the same thing has happened to the missing girl that happened to Jessica, only in Jessica’s case, the consequences were so bad that that is the reason she is in the severe funk she is in.

   Another hint. The ending of this first episode makes it emphatically clear how bad the situation is for the missing girl — in a word, horrific — and if so, how bad was the experience for Jessica?

   Other characters in the story are brought in, including a sexual dalliance between Jessica and the black owner of a bar. I don’t believe his name comes up, but he will be important in episodes to come. The female lawyer who often hires Jessica to do jobs other PI’s can’t do is having a lesbian affair with one of her staff while she already has a full-time relationship with another. A talk show host named Trish seems to be (or have been) very close to Jessica, but if it was stated what the relationship is, I still didn’t catch it after three episodes.

   The other thing that is shown is that Jessica has superpowers. Super strength at least; perhaps super speed and/or agility. She doesn’t hide her powers, but she doesn’t go out of her way to show them off, either. Superpowers are, of course, only to be expected with a Marvel Comics heroine.

   The whole episode is filmed in what I call “comic book noir.” Brightly colored, with lots of off-kilter angles in what are some of the toughest areas of Manhattan, and they mean to show you exactly that every time they can.

   There is a lot of potential here. I have not gone into several other threads of the plot, many of which come to light only in the second and third episodes.. I’m sorry for rambling on the way I have, but if my objective to help you decide whether to watch this series or not, if you haven’t already, have I succeeded?

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