television movie

TV Tuesday: Half Nelson 1985

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Half Nelson Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com & amazon.com

Thirty-five years ago, today, the television series Half Nelson debuted on NBC with a two hour pilot TV movie. Created & written by Glen A. Larson and Lou Shaw, it starred Joe Pesci, Fred Williamson and Victoria Jackson with Dean Martin (as himself) in the movie pilot, adding Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus and Gary Grubbs as main cast in the series. Notable guest stars were Morgan Brittany, George Kennedy, Gary Lockwood, John Saxon and a dog listed as Spuds MacKenzie but, credited as Tony in the TV show. Curiously, the image reflects actors Tony Curtis and John Matuszak as guest stars but, they aren’t on IMDB and Television Obscurities states that Rod Taylor was in the pilot but, his name was also not listed on IMDB.

Movie Summary:

Rocky Nelson is a New York City cop who, after making a major bust and selling the rights of his story to Hollywood, decides to try his luck out as an actor. However, when he gets there, the directors think that he is too short to be an actor. He is, then, approached by someone who offers him a job at a Hollywood security agency because he would fit in there being an ex-cop and, while working there, he could come in contact with some Hollywood heavyweights who could give him the break he needs. [At] the same time, he gets to live in Dean Martin’s guest house.

Half Nelson Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com & amazon.com

Series Summary:

Rocky Nelson is a former New York cop who is trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood. However, like most actor wannabees, he is still looking for his big break and his lack of stature doesn’t endear him to the directors. So, he is currently working for Beverly Hills Patrol, a private security agency that caters to the needs of the Hollywood elite and, who also try to keep things quiet for their clients. [Every] now and then, Rocky comes across a case which requires him to slip into his old mold of cop, which doesn’t make his boss or the police lieutenant that he encounters, happy.

Trivia Bits:
♦ This was Dean Martin’s final acting role.
♦ Martin, playing himself, is the owner of Beverly Hills Patrol and Joe Pesci’s Rocky provides him security.
♦ The series replaced the low rated V TV series.
♦ After the pilot movie, only six episodes aired before being cancelled and replaced with Misfits of Science in the new season.

Additional Reading:
Episode List (IMDB)
TV Obscurities (Website)

Opening & Rod Taylor’s Scenes

TV Tuesday: Mister Jerico 1970

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Mister Jerico Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com & media-amazon.com

Fifty years ago, today, the British crime-comedy, made-for-tv movie Mister Jerico aired on ABC. Directed by Sidney Hayers, it starred Patrick Macnee, Connie Stevens, Herbert Lom, Marty Allen and Bruce Boa.

Summaries:

Smooth con man Dudley Jerico sets out to rob corrupt millionaire Victor Rosso [sic] of his legendary Gemini diamond.

A conman hatches a plan to swindle a corrupt millionaire out of his treasured priceless diamond by claiming to have discovered its twin. However, his plot is disrupted by a rival hustler who comes up with the same idea and, the two crooks must each convince their suspicious target that they can be trusted and the other is lying.

Reviews:

This disappointing comedy caper evidently got the green light due to the popularity of Patrick Macnee‘s dapper superspy John Steed in The Avengers. Unfortunately, this attempt to turn Macnee into an equally charismatic jewel thief just can’t compete with its bigger budgeted competition, despite the catchy title track from Lulu and the star’s stunning array of flowery shirts. Herbert Lom is good value as the object of Macnee’s felonious attentions (in a role similar to the one he played in the Michael Caine caper Gambit three years before) but, this lacklustre yarn, ultimately, can’t cut it in the excitement or suspense stakes.

Jeremy Aspinall of RadioTimes

Mister Jerico Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

Mister Jerico is one of those charming and fluffy capers that the 1960s did well, quite similar to the higher-budgeted Gambit or How to Steal a Million. The palette is sun-soaked, the plot buoyant and just this side of ridiculous. The second half of the film, in particular, moves along at a nice pace, complicating matters without making anything seem too serious. If you think too deeply about the story, it will all appear very nonsensical but, this is a stylized caper film not intended for deeper scrutiny. It’s a surface film and as such it’s quite enjoyable.

Lauren Humphries of Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out… Blog

A fun film with a very Avengers feel to it, which should be obvious given the cast and crew. Allen is a little out of place but, Macnee and Lom are great, as is Laurie Johnson‘s score. I’ll even admit, against that, Lulu‘s theme song is catchy. Apparently [it was] intended as a pilot for a Macnee series to follow The Avengers but, instead, [was] released theatrically (though, in the US, it only ended up as a TV movie of the week).

Dave W. of Actors Compendium

Trivia Bits:
Filmed in Malta and Associated British Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire.
♦ The lead role was originally offered to Robert Wagner but, he was not available.

Additional Reading & Sources:
Rotten Tomatoes
RadioTimes
Cinedelica
Cult TV Blog
Allmovie Overview
Mubi

Video Link: (Late Update)
YouTube Link (Video will not embed as the owner of the account disabled embedding.)

TV Tuesday: All Creatures Great & Small 1975

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All Creatures Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Forty-five years ago, today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie All Creatures Great and Small aired on NBC. Based on two novels by James Alfred Wight (pen name James Herriot), If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet (1972), it was the first of a series of films and TV series based on his work. Directed by Claude Whatham and produced by David Susskind, it starred Simon Ward (as James Herriot), Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Harrow, Brian Stirner and Freddie Jones.

From Wikipedia

It is 1937 and newly qualified vet James Herriot travels to Yorkshire to apply for the post of assistant in Siegfried Farnon’s practice. He soon learns the facts of country life but, struggles to overcome the prejudices of the Darrowby locals who are skeptical of the novice vet’s ability. In between cases, Herriot courts pretty farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson and finally marries her.

From Turner Classic Movies:

A gentle, episodic account of author Herriot’s apprenticeship in the mid-1930s to an eccentric rural English veterinarian and his awkward courtship of a farmer’s daughter.

All Creatures Image Two
Photo Credit: memorabletv.com

From IMDB:

The story of a young veterinarian’s apprenticeship to a somewhat eccentric, older vet in the English countryside and the young man’s hesitating courtship of the daughter of a local farmer.

Filming began May 1974 in Malton, North Yorkshire with studio work in London. The film wasn’t released in the UK until May 9, 1975, opening in London at Studio Two on Oxford Street.

Trivia Bits:
♦ Although born in Sunderland, England, James Herriot spent the first twenty-three years of his life in Glasgow, Scotland and never lost the accent, as can be heard in television interviews. Simon Ward however, plays him as a Londoner.
♦ Known to the cast and crew as “All Creatures Grunt and Smell”.