I'm sorta stoked for this one. Years ago, I bought bootleg copies of the TV series "Johnny Staccato" on DVD so when I saw the announcement that it was going to be officially released October 12, I was ecstatic.
It centered on Johnny Staccato, (played by legendary actor and director John Cassavetes) an ex-jazz pianist/private detective who finds himself drawn into cases where his distaste for crime, criminals and injustice is put to test. The setting for many episodes is a Greenwich Village jazz club belonging to his friend, Waldo, played by Eduardo Ciannelli.
The show featured many musicians, such as Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, Red Norvo, and Johnny Williams -- that's John Williams to scores of movie music buff. Ring a bell? Cassavetes also directed some of the series episodes.
Many notable Hollywood guest stars include Michael Landon, Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, Dean Stockwell, Elisha Cook, Susan Oliver, Gena Rowlands (Cassavette's wife), Elizabeth Montgomery, Norman Fell, Cloris Leachman, and Mary Tyler Moore.
The show debuted in 1959, and although it lasted only 27 episodes, the unique mixture of big-city mystery-adventure and jazz left an indelible impression on a generation of TV viewers.
Timeless Media Group is releasing the show in a 3-disc set including all 27 episodes.
The show suffered an identity crisis perhaps because of the similar "Peter Gunn," a series that centered on a private investigator in the classic film noir tradition. See video at right.
Gunn, like Staccato, was a sophisticated hipster, a dapper dresser who loved cool jazz and was the epitome of cool. He operated in a nameless waterfront city, and was a regular patron of Mother's, a wharfside jazz club; his girlfriend, Edie Hart (Lola Albright), was a sultry singer employed there. Herschel Bernardi played Lieutenant Jacoby, a police detective.
The series aired on the NBC and later ABC from 1958 to 1961. The show's creator (and also writer and director on occasion) was Blake Edwards. Also directed by Robert Altman, a total of 114 thirty-minute episodes were produced.
The series is remembered most for its music, especially "The Peter Gunn Theme," which won an Emmy Award and two Grammys for Henry Mancini and has become a jazz-rock standard.
The show is also available on DVD.