Lt Theo Kojak (Savalas) works out of Manhattan’s 13th precinct and helped by Lt Bobby Crocker (Kevin Dobson) and Detective Stavros (played by Telly’s real life brother George Savalas) he does his best to keep the streets of New York crime free.
When the TV Movie the Marcus Nelson Murders appeared in 1973 it was obvious that the lead character of Lt Theo Kojak as played by the iconic Telly Savalas was something special, a series built around the star power of “Kojak” quickly followed.
Kojak the series is like a kindred spirit of UK show The Sweeney, its gritty, honest and doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is but what also gives it that super touch of quality is the characterization of the leads, Kojak’s relationship with his immediate boss Frank McNeil is very well drawn, the pair had started out together in the NYPD and whilst McNeil had risen to become chief of detectives the cynical Theo preferred the realities of life on the street, also adding greatly to the overall feel of the series is a pre Knots Landing Kevin Dobson as Kojak’s most regular partner Bobby Crocker.
Even back in the day Kojak seemed to be more realistic than his counterparts like Starsky and Hutch or the boys from SWAT and that is certainly more than true when watching episodes today, Savalas though is what makes the show truly special, already a movie star before the show started Kojak turned him into a bona fide icon with the bility to turn one of the world’s worst recordings (his version of the David Gates song If) into a worldwide smash. Who Loves Ya Baby indeed!!
In 1989 ABC decided to revive the series with Kojak working out the 74th Precinct in Manhattan assisted by Detective Warren Blake. Kevin Dobson aka Crocker did pop up in one episode (It’s Always Something – 3 Fen 1990) where he is now an assistant DA.
There were three Kojak TV movies, the first The Marcus Nelson Murders (CBS 8 March 1973) was the pilot that helped introduce the series, then on 16 Feb 1985 CBS aired a revival attempt called The Belarus File and then on 21 Feb 1987 there was another callled The Price of Justice with Kojak now promoted to Inspector.
Kojack actually sucked his ever present lollipop to try and cure his cigarette habit. The character of Stavros on the show was played by Telly’s real life brother George.
Like any popular show of the seventies Kojak had a whole heap of merchandise spring up around it, including such delights as a Corgi version of his 68 Buick, a Kojack board game, tie-in novelisations and the obligatory trading cards.
USA / CBS – Universal – ABC / 1×180 minute episode 2×120 minute episode 112×60 minute episode / Broadcast 1973-78 and 1989-90
Creator: Abby Mann / Theme Music: Billy Goldenberg (1970’s), Mike Post (1989) / Executive Producer: Matthew Rapf
Telly Savalas as Lt. Theo Kojak
Dan Frazer as Chief Frank McNeil
Kevin Dobson as Lt. Bobby Crocker
George Savalas as Detective Stavros
Vince Conti as Detective Rizzo
Mark Russell as Detective Saperstein
Carole Cook as Marie Stella
Diane Baker as Irene Van Patten
Darrell Zivering as Detective Agajanian
Borah Silver as Detective Prince
Shelley Winters as Evelyn McNeil
Michael Mullins as Johnny
Eunice Christopher as Mary
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