Surprise of the Day : TATE on Amazon Prime and DVD

The thing I like about Amazon Prime, and that sets it apart from Netflix is how deep its library of classic and obscure movies and tv shows goes.

It’s a wonderful Rabbit hole of films and TV shows that have been unseen in many cases, since their airing.

 

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TATE I discovered this morning. Its episode HOMETOWN is the pilot of a series that, despite excellent casts and scripts, only lasted 13 episodes..

Filmed in 1960, the show is set almost a 100 years earlier to right after the civil war, and stars a one-armed vet, and an ornery but honest sheriff,  who must hold the line in a town set against them.
Amazon Prime only has the first episode, but what an episode. Watching it in 2016 for the first time, it is just gripping television
I liked it so much that I picked up the entire 1960 series on DVD!
If you are similarly moved, you can get it here:

Tate Entire Series DVD

tatedvd

Deputy:    I got a wife and family, Morty!

Sheriff:    You took your pay in the summer.

                     Now it’s winter.

                     You either in it, or crawl out of my sight!

                     I SAID CRAWL!

“Even with introspective, personal-story scripts from the always excellent Fink and good casts populated by James Coburn, Royal Dano, Robert Culp, Louise Fletcher, Robert Redford, Paul Richards, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Warren Oates, Peter Whitney, Chris Alcaide, Cathy O’Donnell, Pat Breslin, Mort Mills, Ted DeCorsia, Julie Adams and others, the 13 episodes of the surly gunfighter failed to catch-on with viewers, finding strong opposition from “I’ve Got a Secret” on CBS and “Wednesday Night Boxing” and “Hawaiian Eye” on ABC. Sponsored by Kraft, the series ended September 21 and Como returned to his time-slot in October ‘60.

Akin to the best of “Have Gun Will Travel”, “The Westerner”, “The Loner” and “The Rebel” scripts, “Tate” deserves a second viewing (if not a first if you missed it in ‘60) as an overlooked western gem.”

—WESTERN CLIPPINGS

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TELEVISION AS ART: KINGS one of the 10 best Pilots of All Time!

“Dreams are a 60th part prophesy…

Learn to read the signs.”


And with those words TVs most elegant, and eloquent parable rose, briefly but brightly, on our screens.

Mixing equal parts religious allegory, alternate history, future tinged fantasy and cautionary tale, Creator/Writer Michael Green and Director Francis Lawrence’s KINGS was something decidedly new and fresh and vibrant and exciting and challenging and smart and of course… being all these things, NBC pulled the plug on it in less than a season, in favor of yet more carbon copy cop dramas.

It is the shame of mass media that tv is littered with stale, boring, uninspired, and ultimately lowest common denominator CSIs and LAW & ORDERS and AMERICAN IDOLS that get renewed year after predictable year, and truly brilliant and revolutionary television, has to fight tooth and nail to make it to a complete season. It’s a shame that Networks are filled with decision makers who continually make the uninspired decision.

The purpose of a pilot, should be to allow the network to be invested enough to grant a show at least an entire season, breathing room to develop and fulfill the promise of that pilot. Unfortunately more often than not, such as with KINGS, the network vultures and ax men begin circling nearly immediately, and the show has to be rushed into episodes and avenues it wasn’t planning for in order to try to assuage networks.

A ploy that seldom works, and didn’t in this situation. In KINGS case the show goes from brilliant with its first 6 episodes (counting the pilot) to floundering, and into a clunky and forced feeling death dive with its 7th episode SABBATH QUEEN, and stays in that rushed uneven keel, till its alternately bombastic and very forced conclusion.

The strength of the first 6 episodes is that lyric writing, and the slow but strong arcs of the characters, which becomes completely erratic, and again forced, with the need to wrap up the story in less than a season.

But the failings of the network in hounding this show to an unsatisfying and unfortunate demise aside, this series is very much worth following and owning for the promise and brilliance of the pilot and the five episodes that follow it.

Because up till then it’s a great example of television as art, with great actors (Eamonn Walker, of BLOOD & BONE and MOSES JONES fame, is one of my favorite actors, anything he is in he brings a weight and gravitas to it, that you can’t see anyone else doing his role as well as him. And KINGS is filled with such brilliant actors), powerhouse performances, lyric, ambitious scripts, feature film sets and scope, great cinematography and location filming, and arguably the most effective and yet understated use of CGI on television, using it seamlessly and invisibly to help create the world and the wonders of KINGS.

And another real strength of the series for me is in its ethnic diversity and casting of strong striking characters who don’t all look like escapees from Dawson’s Creek or Smallville or Whitebread USA.

I’m really put off by shows that have no characters of color or characters of color in token or dismissive/denigrating roles. KINGS is the rare series that is filled with diversity, but that’s not the point of the show, the show is a fantastic riveting, larger than life fable, that just so happens to have astonishing actors of color, portraying people rather than stereotypes, and that’s what I love to see.

And I think part of the issue is NBC didn’t want a show that was ethnically diverse, as all the limited marketing they did… tried to make this look like DALLAS or 90210, something boring and 20something (compare the pics at the top and bottom of this post. The former is what they should have used to publicize this series, and I found only through much hunting, the latter is what they chose to use. If you’re anything like me you find the latter picture extremely uninteresting). NBC had gold, and marketed it like tin.

So KINGS gets the nod as one of the ten best pilots of all time. And its aborted 2009 season, failings and all, stands out as better television than all the inane CSIs combined. Stands out as television, worth your time. And add a commentary and the DVD Boxset gets a grade of B+.

A must own series.

KINGS: Check Prices Here!