Case Number 23797: Small Claims Court


Shout! Factory // 1976 // 1200 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // May 9th, 2012

The Charge

"You are going to Hell, Mr. Harmon, and I shall take you there by the hand, if that's the only way to accomplish it. Hand in hand, we'll burn together." -- Sister Maria

The Case

How do you solve a problem like Maria; a vengeful, bloodthirsty Nun from Dayton, Ohio?

But that ain't half of it. There's a shooting in the station. A woman detective (Joan Van Ark, Knots Landing) joins the squad. Two-time Oscar nominee Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl, Gods And Monsters) plays a junkie. Oscar winner Irene Cara (Flashdance) plays a hooker. Richard Gere, William Hurt, Christopher Walken, and F. Murray Abraham all stop by on their way to big screen stardom.

Uptown. Downtown. From the Brooklyn Bridge to Bedford Hills. Into the Barrio and out on the docks. Lieutenant Theo Kojak (Telly Savalas, Kelly's Heroes) and the hard-working detectives of New York's Manhattan South precinct are making their presence known all over the big rotten Apple during this, their busiest season so far.

Here's the duty roster, in twenty five episodes: •: "Birthday Party"
•: "A Summer Madness"
•: "Law Dance"
•: "Out Of The Shadows"
•: "A Need To Know"
•: "An Unfair Trade"
•: "A Hair-Trigger Away"
•: "By Silence Betrayed"
•: "A Shield For Murder, Part 1"
•: "A Shield For Murder, Part 2"
•: "The Pride And The Princess"
•: "Black Thorn"
•: "Where Do You Go When You Have Nowhere To Go?"
•: "Dead Again"
•: "The Godson"
•: "The Condemned"
•: "When You Hear The Beep, Drop Dead"
•: "I Was Happy Where I Was"
•: "Kojak's Days, Part 1"
•: "Kojak's Days, Part 2"
•: "Monkey On A String"
•: "Kiss It All Goodbye"
•: "Lady In The Squad Room"
•: "Sister Maria"
•: "Another Gypsy Queen"

Between deft drama and scene-chewing histrionics, Kojak: Season Four swings like a pendulum do.

Opinions will vary; mine is that the season premiere -- which involves the kidnapping of Kojak's niece -- is an overblown, hyper-emoted dud. Ditto for "Kojak's Days," a sprawling, multi-storied essay on the paces our Lieutenant gets put through on a daily basis. Then again, isn't that the basis of every episode?

On the other hand, there's the complex, multi-layered and thoroughly absorbing (Emmy-nominated) two-parter "A Shield For Murder," easily one of the series' very best. Following close behind are "A Need To Know," featuring Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman) as a child molester protected by diplomatic immunity, and "An Unfair Trade," where a (white) cop's (justified) shooting of a minority teen becomes a toxic political football, in a game of political expediency versus justice.

Ying and yang, baby. That's what this season's all about.

Fortunately, Shout! Factory remains consistent in presenting these remarkably well-restored episodes. One complaint: The absence of English SDH subtitles. As good as the Dolby 2.0 mono restoration is, we're talking about a television show from 1976 that features quite a bit of heavy NYC dialect.

As I said, opinions will vary about the quality of individual episodes, and those that misfired for me were graded on a curve. In other words, middling Kojak beats the hell out of most cop shows at their most magnificent.

The Verdict

Coochy coo, baby...You gotta ask?!

Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile
Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 1200 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb