Monday, 10 October 2011

Watching Old TV shows

Over this past weekend I've spent a couple of hours each morning viewing a couple of old TV shows that I watched in the late '80s and early '90s. They were both very short-lived, one season long, but I remembered them both being quite unique for their time. Now, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and YouTube, I've found them and had quite a bit of fun watching them again.

Unsub was released in 1989 by Stephen Cannell productions. It was filmed in Vancouver, B.C. as were many shows at that time. (In fact, Vancouver continues to be a favourite film location for many current shows. The show starred David Soul, of Starsky and Hutch fame, as the leader of a team of FBI experts who are called in to local authorities solve crimes that are beyond their capabilities. The team uses high level forensic capabilities and also profiling skills in solving the crimes. Does that sound like any current TV series that you might know? *cough* Criminal Minds, CSI...

Assisting David Soul, John Grayson as his character is named, with the FBI efforts were Jennifer Hetrick (as Ann Madison) and Joe Marruzo (Tony d'Agostino) who are both profilers, with Tony almost empathic in the way he walks through crime scenes, feeling what the Unsub feels. Also on the team were Richard Kind, as Jimmy Bello, a rookie on the group, who acts more as an administrator, but still plays a key role in a few of the cases. Kent McCord, maybe best known for his role in Adam-12 and Andrea Mann are the forensic experts, who often accompany the team to the crime locations to gather forensic specimens, but more often spend their time back in Washington at the lab, analyzing the data they find. The final member of the team is M. Emmett Walsh, as Ned Platt, a crusty old police detective, who brings both experience and a more down-to-earth way of looking at crimes, adding that perspective to the team's analysis.

Unfortunately, the show only released 8 episodes and was not continued. It was way ahead of its time I think, and paved the way for today's generation of forensic crime shows. Watching it over the past few weekends, you can see that in some ways it is dated, the style of filming, the dialogue of the time, but on the whole, I enjoyed watching it very much. It had tension, a good team dynamic and good stories. I'm glad I found it online so that I could get a new fresh perspective on the show.

Here is a sample of the shows style, from the Pilot episode, called White Bone Demon.

VR-5 was released in 1995 and starred Lori Singer as Sydney Bloom, an employee of the telephone company, who also dabbles in the Internet. She plays in Virtual Reality universes and by accident, the action of connecting her Virtual Reality link to the telephone line that she has the ability to enter into the deepest dimensions of VR, that being VR-5. Sydney has found a way to enter the human mind via VR. She can connect with the person at the other end of the line and interact with them without them actually remembering. Her abilities bring her to the attention of 'The Committee', who are represented by Will Patton, as Dr Frank Morgan, a professor of Virtual Reality philosophy.

The other main cast members are Michael Easton, as Duncan, Sydney's neighbour, a granola-eating, philosophy type, who helps Sydney with some of her cases and who also advises and looks after Sydney. David McCallum is Doctor Joseph Bloom, Sydney's father. He is introduced in the Pilot, as a back story, in which we see Sydney, her sister, Samantha, and her father involved in a road accident, in which Joseph and Samantha are killed. This becomes an ongoing story line (I haven't got that far into my viewing of the old episodes, so I can't remember exactly what happens in the future.)

The Committee uses Sydney's talent to solve 'situations' and Sydney is somewhat rebellious and as she discovers what is involved, she tries to help the individuals she is tasked to find. Once again, I've only seen three of the episodes so far, so I can't remember all the situations Sydney is involved with, but I'm enjoying getting into them again.

Once again, this series was not renewed after one season. It was a quite different show, very surreal, especially with the VR scenes, where Sydney is exploring her own and other people's sub-conscious. You can see where other shows, like Chris Carter's Harsh Realm, came from. I'm enjoying reliving this series too; if you're interested, here is a look at the Pilot.

Just a couple of shows that I've found online. There are so many others that my wife and I have enjoyed; various British comedies and period shows and many others. I'll try and highlight some others over the coming weeks.
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