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Back in the early 1980's, on Saturday mornings, CBC used to run
episodes of "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon", and this. "R.C.M.P." was a
crisply-shot, realistic crime drama which was also a total
antithesis to the usual creaky stagebound stuff that passed for
Canadian television programming back then.
The two leads of "R.C.M.P." was a variation on the classic pairing
of older, experienced slightly world-weary captain, with the
ambitious young rookie. But what made it special was the almost
documentary-like feel as they take steps to get their man. The
series was beautifully shot in black and white, and had an
authentic feel of time and space.
There are two episodes I remember. The first features the young
hotshot rookie going undercover to infiltrate the beatnik scene to
make a pot bust! In order to fit in, he even takes a crash course on
the slang terms that the kids used: "My old man, etc." In one
scene set in a bohemian cafe, some cute beatnik chick offers him
a pull on a joint , but he decides to stick to his black coffee. The
second features Jimmy Doohan (yes, Mr. Scott himself) as a
murderer who then tries to destroy the evidence of his misdoings
by spraying acid jets on the corpse!
"R.C.M.P." was a fascinating, intelligent and realistic series. I sure
hope someone resurrects this from the vault. It would be
interesting to see if it still holds up almost half a century later, and
I'm betting it would. Is anyone in TV-land listening?
R.C.M.P. was definitely not from the "Dudley Do-Right" genre of
features. Unapologetically cold, grainy and raw, the show was very
realistic and stood up well against other crime dramas on TV of the
day. French actor Gilles Pelletier portrayed Corporal Jacques Gagnier,
whose sidekick Constable Bill Mitchell was played by English actor Don
Canadian film maverick, Frank Radford "Budge" Crawley spearheaded the co-production with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in an attempt to fulfill his dream of sharing "the Canadian Way" with the rest of the world.
While not a fan of American-style cinema. he allegedly also wanted R.C.M.P. to sign with an American TV network. At the time, however, this couldn't happen unless they had full control over any shows they broadcast. Despite how lucrative a deal with a U.S. network might have been, Crawley would not budge and the show ended up with only a paltry take in American syndication.
The show ran for one season and a whopping 39 episodes, but despite not becoming the spectacle Crawley promised, the years to come would see R.C.M.P. reruns garner fans from all over the world, from even as far away as Hong Kong.
Crawley Films was apparently once Canada's biggest film production company outside of the NFB (National Film Board), but "Budge" ended up selling his baby to Vic Atkinson and William Stevens. Crawley died in 1987 and his empire went bankrupt, just shy of its fiftieth anniversary. R.C.M.P. would stand up well in DVD form, if anyone wants to take it on.
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