Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Naked City Redux

In this time of economic instability, escalating global Islamic terrorism, and an increasingly imperial presidency, one savors pleasant distractions wherever they can be found.  In recent months I’ve caught some episodes of the old TV series Naked City, a police drama set in New York City which a cable station has been airing of late. 

The plots often move slowly, but the window into the mores, language, and look of the time, and the many great outdoor shots of NYC, can be captivating.  The show was recognized, even at the time as I vaguely recall, for its gritty realism.  The stories often, if not usually, revolved around the guest stars, and one can see in vivid black and white young actors, unknown at the time, who later became stars; Robert Duvall and Sandy Duncan are two I’ve seen lately.  The writing was character-driven and has a larger component of psychological drama than later cop shows like Kojak (who loves you baby?).  Naked City can seem a bit brooding, almost noirish, as it brought to television a gritty realism, almost documentary-like in parts.  In retrospect, a simpler time, not that they thought so then.

Said in the famous voice-over narration, by producer Herbert Leonard, at the end of each episode, referring presumably to the population of New York City:  "There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them."  Unfortunately, there turned out to be only 138 of them, all told.

R. Balsamo

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