|Index||2 reviews in total|
This mid-1980's series could hardly be described as groundbreaking. A critic called it "a series you can't refuse" and it was a pretty apparent effort at taking advantage of the "Godfather" movies' success. Throw in love between a son from one rival family and a daughter from another, a plot which was already old when Shakespeare used it in "Romeo and Juliet", and you've pretty much got it. That having been said, the show had an expensive, movie-style look about it and a fine cast. Ironically, this probably helped to kill it. Most soap-opera type shows (and this pretty much was that) take a good while to build an audience; with the amount that this show must have cost to make per episode there was little time for that to happen due to the amount of money being lost. (Another problem is that serial-type shows have to be huge hits in order to have more than nominal value as reruns; without huge buzz few viewers will watch again to see the outcome of story lines they already know.) This show was better than lots of the other fare available at the time but suffered also from being against "Remington Steele", arguably a better copy of James Bond-style intrigue (and starring a future Bond) than this was of "Godfather"-style crime wars, and was failing to hold for ABC the audience share which it was being delivered by another high-cost show, "Moonlighting", so it had to go.
The television series 'Our Family Honor' was obscene, in the true sense
of that term. Rather than offering a few glimpses of nudity (which
never hurt anybody), this TV series was obscene because of its
calculated efforts to glorify mafia hoodlums, and to imply that the
police are no better than the criminals. As its title suggests, 'Our
Family Honor' went far out of its way to mythologise the non-violent
aspects of mafiosi: their alleged strong ties of 'family' (both literal
family and crime family) and their supposed code of 'honor'. I suspect
that this immoral TV show would also have glorified another aspect of
organised crime - the violence - if it had been able to do so on
American television in the pre-'Sopranos' 1980s.
Most morally bankrupt of all was this series' total dishonesty about the ethnic makeup of the mafia. The gangster family in this TV series are named Danzig, and are played by non-Italian actors, but they have Italian forenames and are in every other way Italian-American stereotypes. A typical line of dialogue: 'Hey, Augie! Have some calamari!' Plus, we get all the usual Italian-American clichés - a big family, they love to eat, they love to celebrate, they throw elaborate dinners - disguised only by the non-Italian casting and that name 'Danzig'. The only explicitly Italian-American character in the cast is (of course) an honest cop, played by an Italian-American actor who had more success playing mafia goombahs: the overrated Ray Liotta.
Meanwhile, the actions of the 'honorable' gangster family the Danzigs are contrasted with the McKays, a family of cops who are depicted as being just as corrupt as the Danzigs. The McKays can't nail the Danzigs by following legal procedure and due process, so they 'bend' the rules and violate police procedure. I find this very offensive. Certainly there are bent cops and corrupt officials, and there are also instances of 'cop families': a family producing several generations of police officers. But it's difficult to see how a cop family could produce an ongoing history of corruption and rule violations, as the McKays are depicted here: in real life, such a family would attract too much attention within the police department.
Vincent Danzig, the patriarch of the crime family, was played by Eli Wallach: an actor better known for his work in live theatre. Shortly after 'Our Family Honor' was cancelled, Wallach did a series of TV commercials and print ads for Emigrant Savings Bank. When an interviewer asked why a serious actor would take such work, Wallach reasonably replied that the money he earned from a single TV commercial would finance an entire season of stage plays at Wallach's theatre in Long Island. Wallach is right to justify his commercials, but his work in 'Our Family Honor' is indefensible.
'Our Family Honor' didn't last very long (good riddance!), but it has been replaced by filth like 'The Sopranos', which is very successful indeed. As I write this, a cable network is airing a promo for the new series of 'Soprano' episodes which assures us that the new episodes will have more violence than before. How reassuring. 'The Sopranos' is produced by an Italian-American who anglicised his name, and who loudly complains about alleged prejudice against Italian-Americans. Meanwhile, he's getting rich off a TV series that exploits those same stereotypes.
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