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and when a Japanese woman is murdered, we hear (what else?) Japanese music. As in his former series, Joe Friday never seems to run out of ways to describe his home town, from the intriguing (“a lot of people earn a living here”) to the downright charming (“some come here to see stars or to become one; others come here to die.”). The series is much less menacing in color, and the City of Angels is still as timelessly ugly and as boring to look at as ever. Yet now we have periodic visits to the Sunset Strip, what Friday hiply observes as the “in” place to go. This area serves as a hotbed for the bottomless obsession with Youth, and how, according to the right-wing thought behind this show, Youth equals Criminal. Youth is an obvious challenge to order. “What kind of kick are you on, son?” Friday asks the infamous Blue Boy, a trippy teenager who paints his face blue and freaks out on acid (an outrageous premise on 1967 prime time, which usually never got higher than The Flying Nun). Blue Boy is one of the few unpredictable villains on the series, so interest in him has grown over the years. Upon his arrest, when Friday commands him to “stay put in that chair,” Blue Boy answers, “I AM the chair.” Of course, Blue Boy means no harm. His only real crime is that — as well as his stint as a chair — he thinks he’s a tree. The worst crime any youth can commit here is not murder or rape, but to “fink” on his friends. Even the Boy’s own mother, in typical, wellrehearsed TV dialogue denial, scoffs at the Youth who are “letting their hair grow long or dressing up like those English singers.” However, Friday informs Mom (and Joe Hardhat, who is watching in the millions) that what her son is “on” is “a Freak Out. The Trip. The Ticket.” If you were listening and not watching, you would think Joe Friday is Timothy Leary. These “juvenile experimenters,” as Friday calls them, have been “dropping that acid we’ve been hearing about.” And another hippie’s mother (in denial, of course) registers a protest of her own as www.themodern.us

she disapproves of the latest fashions from swinging London: “no son of mine is gonna dress up like a circus clown.” Miranda rights, relatively new at the time, are recited so often that if you had a dollar for every time they were read, you would be able to afford a nice lunch. However, Friday reads them with feeling. He means every word of it. As he recites, he even puts his hands in his pockets, laid-back-LA style. And, of course, when rights are read to Youth, The Kids respond with “I dig.” The series wants badly to be “everyday.” Even the cop car, a gold Ford Galaxie, is humdrum. And Friday jump-starts one story with these thrilling words: “We were on our way to lunch when the sergeant stopped us in the hallway.” And speaking of lunch, Friday is joined by his new partner, the sandwich-lovin’ Bill Gannon (Henry Morgan, of future M*A*S*H fame), who serves lamely as a source of comic relief (his love of food seems to break what little tension the show builds). At one point, big-help Gannon offers his partner some healthy advice: “smoke a cigarette and go home.” And the only glimpse we get into Friday’s sweaty inner-self is when he hints approvingly to Gannon, “Ya know, if you could cook, I’d marry ya.” After Blue Boy, everything else seems like a letdown — even the neo-Nazis. However, you’ll never get tired of watching old traffic, and you may learn a thing or two as Friday and Gannon infiltrate subcultures (like the furrier business, for instance, when terrific character-actor Henry Corden says yiddishly, “help from me you can do without.”). It’s a police procedural drama without cell phones or walkie-talkies or a whisper of whimsy, a series that is itching to show you that TV crime fighting can be as dull as the real thing. And somehow it pays off. However, in 1967, not only the names, but also the hairdos have been changed to protect the innocent. June 2012 | The Modern

Profile for Jennifer Barlow

TheModernJune2012V1N9  

The June 2012 issue of The Modern features interviews with the cast of the new TNT Dallas reboot, as well as Krystin Ritter from ABC’s Don’t...

TheModernJune2012V1N9  

The June 2012 issue of The Modern features interviews with the cast of the new TNT Dallas reboot, as well as Krystin Ritter from ABC’s Don’t...

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