Shout! Factory // 1975 // 1140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // March 8th, 2012
"Justice is the firm and continuous desire to render every man his due." -- Justinian, Byzantine Emperor (527-565 AD)
Clip, clip, clip. That's the sound of dress shoes hitting hard ground as Manhattan South's detective squad goes to work, stomping out the Big Apple's biggest, baddest worms. Shout! Factory trots out Season Three of this gritty police procedural, with Lt. Theo Kojak, (Telly Savalas, The Dirty Dozen) taking the lead.
The season's 24 episodes are evenly distributed over six discs...
* "A Question Of Answers" (Parts 1 & 2)
* "My Brother, My Enemy"
* "Sweeter Than Life"
* "Be Careful What You Pray For"
* "Secret Snow, Deadly Snow"
* "Life, Liberation And The Pursuit Of Death"
* "Out Of The Frying Pan..."
* "Over The Water:
* "The Nicest Guys On The Block"
* "No Immunity For Murder"
* "A Long Way From Times Square"
* "Money Back Guarantee"
* "A House Of Prayer, A Den Of Thieves"
* "How Cruel The Frost, How Bright The Stars"
* "The Forgotten Room"
* "On The Edge"
* "A Wind From Corsica"
* "Bad Dude"
* "The Frame"
* "Deadly Innocence"
* "Justice Deferred"
* "Both Sides Of The Law"
* "A Grave Too Soon"
Prime time network TV was awash in hourlong cop shows with last names for titles in the fall of 1975, but Kojak set itself apart from the rest. I hesitate to attribute the show's advantage to something as trivial as its New York setting, but this season features two episodes that send the good Lieutenant out to Nevada, which proves two times too many!
This may be the weakest of the first three seasons, but fortunately not by much. The two-part season premiere, "A Question Of Answers" (which garnered two well-deserved Emmy nominations) gets things off to a rip-roaring start, with a tautly written tale of labyrinthine deceptions, and a guest star call sheet that reads like an all-star master class: F. Murray Abraham (Oscar winner, Amadeus), Michael V. Gazzo (Oscar nominee, The Godfather: Part II), Oscar winner Eli Wallach (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly), Tony winner Jerry Orbach (Law And Order), and as an (uncredited) tape operator Christopher Guest (Grammy winner, A Mighty Wind).
Shout! Factory's quality control department must be working overtime, because these standard definition 1.33:1 transfers look terrific, with a surprising paucity of dirt and debris. The Dolby 2.0 mono mix holds up pretty well, though the inclusion of subtitles for the hard of hearing would make a world of difference.
Breaking with tradition, Kojak: Season Three includes a bonus featurette, the first DVD extra for this exemplary series. On paper it may not sound like much, but you'd be surprised at the value it provides -- roughly fifteen minutes worth of non-narrative interviews with cast and crew, guest star Angie Dickinson, and four of the Savalas children, all of whom impart delightful and enlightening anecdotes.
The message is clear: Who doesn't love Telly, baby?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1140 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Not Rated