DVD slight return: May showers
Nineteen-Ninety was a spectacular year for television until it was not a spectacular year for TV. Consider that broadcaster ABC debuted shows like Twin Peaks and Cop Rock. The former show went on to achieve cult status, mainly due to being associated with director David Lynch, while Cop Rock withered on the vine.
Cop Rock (Shout! Factory, 5/17) lasted a whopping 11 episodes before being cancelled, a victim of its attempt to be totally unlike anything that had come before. Cop Rock mixed police procedural drama with musical theatre. Randy Newman even won an Emmy for the show’s opening credits. In perhaps an unconscious nod to the mixture of music and drama in the film O Lucky Man! the credits sequence depicts Newman banging out the catchy theme song in a recording studio setting while members of the cast hang out and nod their heads to the beat.
The parallel storylines enacted by the ensemble cast include a cop on trial for shooting a suspect, a female/male patrol team whose platonic relation comes under scrutiny, and the town’s mayor who has had plastic surgery having an affair with the police chief. The latter role is well played by Barbara Bosson who was also married to the showrunner Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues). Each ep contains multiple songs, and the vocals were filmed live.
Bob Hope was a major celebrity in the 1970s and to an extent resting on the laurels of his earlier achievements. Hope like many of the Hollywood elders was a hawk and supported the then Vietnam conflict. Yet Hope pulled few punches in his comic monologues when joking about such things as Kissinger and the Paris Peace Talks. Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops (Time Life, 5/10) offers up three USO shows as they were originally broadcast on network television. Two of the shows Around the World with the USO and Around the Globe with the USO are respectively from 1970 and 1971, while the third show Chesterfield Sound Off Time is from December 23, 1951, and depicts Hope with entertainers of that era televised at the height of the Korean War.
Guests include Connie Stevens, Romy Schneider, Ursula Andress, the then current Miss World, and Neil Armstrong (straight off his Moon walk) and others. The ‘70s era specials feature multiple stops around the world at US bases, including Vietnam.
I have a theory that Hope was a spy going back to his USO service in WWII. Anytime a person travels from one command post to another command post that is behind enemy lines, as the USO did, and carries missives from base commander to base commander that person is legally a spy. The 1951 broadcast depicts a perfect time capsule of that black and white era. Hope gets off some great dance steps in a routine with The Nicholas Brothers.
On Blu-ray, a great selection of French films from realistic helmer Maurice Pialat. The Films of Maurice Pialat, Volume 1 (Cohen Media Group, 5/17) has four movies: The Mouth Agape, Graduate First, Loulou (perhaps the best known of Pialat’s work released domestically) and Maurice Pialat: Love Exists, the latter a documentary from 2007 that was made by his widow after Pialat died. Loulou (1980) stars Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert both at the height of their careers. The three-disc set has plenty of interviews and extras.
— Michael Bergeron