On Universal’s Brilliant But Cancelled: Crime Dramas, whodunit fans get a chance to relive classic episodes of four critically acclaimed but short-lived series: Johnny Staccato, Delvecchio, Gideon Oliver, and Touching Evil.
Spanning decades of television, the DVD’s highlight is Johnny Staccato. Starring John Cassavetes in the title role, the episode (ca. 1959) stands up surprisingly well in modern times. Cassavetes is so suave and cool that no one would doubt his ability to play a jazz musician who happens to solve crimes at night.
Each of the episodes has its own merits–Judd Hirsch is appropriately intense in Steven Bochco’s Delvecchio, Louis Gossett Jr. is charmingly brilliant as an anthropology professor/sleuth in Gideon Oliver, and the elite crime fighters in Touching Evil could give anyone on Law & Order a run for their money. But the problem with this concept is that aside from the crime-solving element, the shows don’t flow well from one to the next and ultimately leaves the viewer wanting to see more than just one episode from each show.