THE PLOT THUS FAR
A bald police detective with a firey righteous attitude battles crime in his city.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Kojak was a no-nonsense cop who cared about solving crimes and getting criminals off the street. But he can also display care and sympathy for the relatives of crime victims, as demonstrated during a phone call he makes to a murder victim’s mother in the episode “Girl In The River.” In that episode, Kojak could identify with the victim’s mother’s discomfort about the thought that her daughter’s killer has resurfaced, because he acknowledged his own inability to rest well with the killer still on the loose. But after the inevitable identification of the killer and the final showdown that results in the killer’s death, the episode ends with Kojak calling the victim’s mother again, this time to let her know that she can finally rest.
Set in the Thirteenth Precinct, this was no rose-tinted view of New York. Often the action unfolded in unsavoury apartment blocks, or in moth-eaten diners or strip joints. Kojak himself was a stubborn and tenacious investigator who, despite the seeming cynicism and toughness, betrayed a very humane side. Salvalas was superbly cast in the role, bringing genuine anger and pathos in equal measure and able to seem entirely at ease in his own skin. The Season 2 episodes aren’t that hot, as they follow the usual 70s cop melodrama models. What makes the difference is getting to watch Leslie Nielsen and Abe Vigoda murder people. What’s weird is that Vigoda was coming off “The Godfather” at the time, so I’m not sure if this show was slumming it for him or not.