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Posts Tagged ‘Stingray – TV Series Review’

Title script for Stingray TV show

Title Image

Image of DVD

Image of DVD

 
As a Valentine’s Day treat, Hil let me buy a DVD.  I chose “Stingray“, and picked it up online for a very reasonable $8 for 24 episodes (supposedly two seasons).  Actually, the show aired its pilot in 1985, ran eight episodes in 1986 and then the last fifteen in 1987.  The pilot is a two-hour episode (run time, with commercials), so the set is advertised as 25 episodes.
 

The series is about a man named Ray (played by Nick Mancuso), who hires out his services to those in need, in exchange for a favor to be claimed sometime in the future.  The show is supposed to be based in Los Angeles and the first season is shot there.  It looks to me though, as if the second season is shot mostly in Canada.  The creator / producer of the show, Steven J. Cannell, created his own production company and moved it to Canada to create some separation from the major LA studio system which he felt had too much influence on his work.  Cannell is more famous for some of his other series, including “The A-Team“, “Baretta“, “21 Jump Street“, “Hunter” and “The Rockford Files“.  Cannell recently (September 2010)  passed away from cancer.  (You can find his tribute site here.)  Cannell created over 40 TV pilots which became series.
 

Ray (short for Raymond, not Stingray) is a Vietnam veteran, former CIA operative, martial arts expert and computer/electronics expert.  He is also supposed to be an excellent actor, or more precisely, role player – as he slips in and out of characters needed to assist whomever his current client is for the episode.  Ray finds his clients by advertising in the newspaper offering his 1965 Stingray (one of the “stars” of the show in any age) for barter only, to the right person.  The car is ultra cool.  Still.  As mentioned above, the barter is for your future favor.
 

Anyway, I really enjoyed the show way back when and watching the whole 24 episodes reminded me why I loved it and (ultimately) why it was cancelled.  I would say about five of the episodes are excellent TV (action and story), five are above average (action or story), five are average (but enjoyable), and the remaining nine are almost painful to watch.  Several of them seem to be actual parodies of the series or so implausible as to be parodies.  There are even instances when you can see the microphone boom dip into camera view.  That’s how bad the show got at some points.  The other thing I found interesting about the show was the credits ran with photos of out-takes.  This was unique in its day and I’m not sure I’ve seen it in many other series either.  It definitely destroys the illusion of reality created by the “hero series”.  On the other hand, it makes the show feel intimate in a way that seems to have been a forerunner of the out-takes and extra features we now expect to find on purchased DVD’s.
 

Although I really liked Mancuso in this role, he more or less completely fell off of my radar after this series.  The only other thing I remember him in is as the weaselly CIA guy in “Under Seige“.
 

Finally, the show reeks of 80’s fashion / cool – clothes, hairdos, images of the cities, etc.  It’s on a par with “Miami Vice” on that level, although Miami Vice was MUCH better at using popular music to capture the spirit of the show.  Stingray’s music are pop-rock, but created for the show and not general hits from the airways.
 

I don’t know if the series is run on Hulu or Netflix, but if it is, it’s definitely worth checking out.  Alternatively, for $8 (plus shipping), you’ll not go far wrong  just buying the series.  In case you’re wondering what brought the show to mind.  There’s a guy down the street who owns a mid-60’s Corvette (but his is fire-engine red).  Pure serendipity…
 
 

 

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