Tuesday, September 6, 2016
'Matt Houston' S1 DVD: 'Magnum' Meets 'Love Boat'
Visual Entertainment once again comes to the rescue regarding giving classic traditional broadcast television series life on DVD. One of the latest programs to enjoy this resurrection is the three-season 192-1985 Aaron Spelling ABC detective drama "Matt Houston." This "Houston" release joins the (Unreal TV reviewed) Visual complete series set of the better-know Spelling anthology drama "Hotel."
The painfully delayed Visual DVD release of the '70s ABC Donna Pescow/Robert Hays sitcom "Angie" is greatly anticipated.
This post on "Houston" is the first of a series of three. The current topic is S1; we will then move onto the next two seasons. Having Buddy Ebsen of "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the (Visual adopted series) "Barnaby Jones" makes the latter particularly fun.
The spin on the highly entertaining schlock TV style of Spelling in "Houston" is that aptly-named leading man Lee Horsley is titular uber-wealthy Texas oilman who closely resembles Tom Selleck of "Magnum, P.I." fame of the era.
Like Magnum, Houston solves the crime of the week. The Spelling touch extends beyond this "Charlie's Angels" aspect of "Houston" to having "Love Boat" caliber B and C-:List celebrities play the victim and suspects. The roster from just the first five S1 "Houston" episodes includes Spelling darling Heather Locklear, "Boat" equivalent of Wil Wheaton Jill Whelan, '60s sitcom "F Troop" star Forrest Tucker, character actor Bradford Dillman, etc.
An episode typically begins with a bizarrely executed murder and quickly moves to the large Texas ranch that Houston owns. Learning of the murder, that usually involves someone who is or was important to Houston, prompts this amateur dick to hop in his private helicopter and fly off to his Los Angeles office/Jacuzzi-equipped swinging bachelor pad to conduct his investigation.
Just as the drama in "Angels" typically ends with an action-packed chase and "Boat" wraps things up with members of the aforementioned B Team leaving that ship, "Houston" follows the pattern of our hero having a fairly obvious "AHA" moment and then taking on (of course, pun intended) the perpetrator. This typically leads to an "Angels" style chase. The '80s-tastic fun is in the variations that the writers provide.
The stereotypes that help Houston are his sexy attorney/gal Friday/it's complicated love interest C.J. Parsons, bald and anxious wimpy accountant Murray, and the "angels" who make up the private secretarial pool of Houston. It seems that the latter have their jobs based on their "memories" and another "asset."
The series starts with the two-hour pilot "X-22," which most likely first airs as an ABC TV Movie of the Week. The titular ship is an oil tanker that explodes along with its despised owner when a christening goes horribly wrong. This one nicely keeps the reveals coming until the end.
"Stop the Presses" is up next and is a good addition to the series; this one revolves around Houston's landscaper becoming collateral damage in what seems to be an attempt to murder a tabloid publisher. This one has "Cosby" kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner as the son of the landscaper.
"Who Would Kill Ramona" is a personal favorite of the lot. Janet Leigh of "Psycho" fame is a faded movie star/friend of Houston and the victim of an attack that apparently is against her this time. Pairing the titular box office poison with an absurdly younger leading man and saddling her with an abusive second husband contribute a great deal of fun this time.
All of this proves that resistance is futile regarding Spelling. He knows what we like is very glad to make millions providing it.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Houston" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.