Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bourbon Steet Beat

So last night I watched Bourbon Steet Beat on what used to be the Goodlife Channel, but which I believe is now called the American Life Channel. Not that it matters. Bourbon Street Beat lasted about a year, and it starred Andrew Duggan and Richard Long as a pair of New Orleans private-eyes named Cal Calhoun and Rex Randolph. Their office is located right by the Old Absinthe House, which you may have seen, or maybe even patronized, if you've ever walked along Bourbon Street. They're assisted by Melody Lee Mercer (Arlene Howell), who has a penchant for entering beauty contests, and Kenny Madison (Van Williams, who later went on to star in Surfside Six and The Green Hornet. Kenny doesn't enter beauty contests, but he's pretty cute.

The real fun of watching these old shows is partly the goofy plots. Last night's involved $75,000 missing for forty years and supposedly hidden on an old paddlewheeler. People search for the money by doing things like opening bureau drawers and looking under mattresses. Gimme a break. Cal Calhoun comes up with the idea that the money might not be hidden in the room of the man who had it but in the room next door. "You been takin' genius pills, Cal?" says Kenny.

Then there's the woman dressed in a man's suit, wearing hat and tie. "You never asked me why she was dressed like a man," says guest star Mary Moore (later better known as Mary Tyler Moore) in her best sultry southern accent. So when Cal asks why, Mary says, "She had a lot of hard work to do, searching for that money." Naturally when a woman has a lot of hard work to do, she dresses up in a man's business suit and puts on a hat and tie. You gotta love it.

But plot aside, part of the fun of these shows is seeing who'll turn up. Mary Tyler Moore is always a treat, especially when she's in the slammer, unjustly accused of murder.

And the cars. It's great to see those big old hunks of American iron, looking the way cars should look, forty feet long and covered with chrome. And Cal's old Chevy convertible is a sight for sore eyes.

I wish there had been a few more shots of New Orleans. It would have been fun to see what the city was like all those years ago.


Anonymous said...

BOURBON STREET BEAT was one of my favorite P. I. shows along with 77 SUNSET STRIP, and SURFSIDE 6. That was the Golden Age of TV private eyes. TV Westerns, too. I'm sure all those shows will turn up on DVD.

George Kelley

Anonymous said...

I love ALL the Warnesr Bro. shows, even (especially?) The Alaskans with Roger Moore and John Dhener--which, believe it or not, was Bourbon Street Beat transplanted to colder climes. It was the loopiest of all the Warners TV stuff. Ed Gorman

Anonymous said...

Bill, by coincidence I watched a couple of those Bourbon Street Beat shows recently too and you are right: their plots are ludicrously entertaining and there is not nearly enough of New Orleans.

But I missed Mare, darn it.

Anonymous said...

Keep watching BOURBON STREET BEAT and you'll run into an episode that's a remake of WHITE HEAT complete with the action-packed finale. I have it on tape around here...if I can find it, I'll post the title. It's a real kick seeing how they re-worked the film's storyline down to a hour TV show.

Andy J said...

I too loved BOURBON STREET BEAT. I never questioned the silliness of the plots -- I was more concerned with how the writers were so brave to leave tough guy Van Williams so alliteratively (sp?) impaired. I mean -- Cal Calhoun, Rex Randolph, Melody Mercer, why not Maxwell Madison? Kenny Madison just doesn't sing like the others. You've got to give Warner Brothers credit though. These things were all shot on the back lot and there's no more New Orleans in BSB than there is Hawaii in Hawaiian Eye but it still has the feel of it. I think MAVERICK may turn up on DVD but the rest of the Warner Brothers shows are probably not going to. DVD sales are starting to level off rapidly and it appears that picnic is over. The studios'plan to hook you with the latest scheme, high definition DVD, isn't going to work.