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"Kojak" Pilot (2005)

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Short-lived Kojak remake had potential

7/10
Author: Gary M. James from United States
30 March 2005

When I saw the promos for Kojak and that Ving Rhames was playing the character Telly Savalas made famous in the 1970s, I wondered if Rhames would be able to make me forget Savalas.

It did not make me forget the original at all. The storyline is pretty standard police drama that I've seen many times before. What kept me interested were the relationships between Kojak and his ex-partner/boss Capt. Frank McNeil (Chazz Palminteri), the asst. D.A./love interest Carmen Warrick (Roselyn Sanchez) and the two kids he temporarily took care of while their father was in prison.

Just like Savalas, Rhames presents himself and his character as tough and no-nonsense with a sensitive side. (As far as I'm concerned, any actor, like Rhames, who can play gangster Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction and drag queen Holiday Heart deserves a little bit of respect.)

I hope future story lines become more interesting which is the main flaw of all pilots. There's no way anyone can determine how well a show will be in one opening episode. For now the show will run on the strength and charisma of Ving Rhames and that's not bad at all.

Update: Sadly, the USA Network pulled the plug on "Kojak" because of poor ratings.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Nice surprise

Author: CaptainBeatty (towman931@yahoo.com) from Central Ohio
26 March 2005

Generally speaking, I don't like remakes of shows I watched in the '70s. This show proved to be a surprising exception. Ving Rhames gives an excellent performance.He brings a different portrayal of Theo Kojak. . I was afraid this remake would seem dated,but it was not. I'm not that familiar with his other works, so I don't know him as an actor. However, as Kojak, he seemed like an old friend.I also liked the fact that there were many different ethnic groups portrayed in this show, they all just worked together(as in real life), and no big deal was made about it.My overall rating(based on the premier episode) 9 out of 10. Kojak is on my short list of shows not to miss

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The GO word is Quality

8/10
Author: Rogue-32 from L A.
24 March 2005

The first episode of this show doesn't air until March 25th, but I managed to get my hands on the press kit, which contains (along with the press releases and the extremely creative promotional lolly-pops) the DVD of the 2-hour pilot, and if the subsequent shows are as well-written and absorbing as this initial offering, I will most certainly make damn sure I don't miss any of them.

I've always enjoyed Ving Rhames' work; he manages to bring humanity and substance to any role he undertakes, whether he's portraying a good guy, a bad guy, or anything in-between. Here, as the infamous Kojak, he's perfectly on the mark, managing to be tough without making it an ego thing, genuinely sensitive when it's called for, and thoroughly able to do what needs to be done (even if it's in conflict with the 'rules'). The part is tailor-made for him, and I would go so far as to say that if you'd never seen the original show, with Telly S. in the title role, you would swear the part was created FOR Rhames.

The pilot episode starts out good, gets better and better and still better, and by the time it was over, I was ready to sign up (in fact, I did - went to the USA Network's site and submitted my email so I could get the weekly newsletter). The plot has many traditional elements of the genre, of course, but it's the WAY it's done, the WAY it's written and executed that elevate it above the fray. I only hope the rest of the episodes live up to this initial offering. I have a feeling they will.

It's happened before here at IMDb that I've been the first person to post a comment on a movie or a show, but this is the first time that I've actually gotten to be one of the first 5 voters. It's an honor to be able to cast one of these first 5 votes for such a promising and inspired new venture.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Kojak is back!

10/10
Author: SavalasFan from United States
5 May 2005

I'm a huge fan of Telly Savalas' Kojak. Kojak was a sharp dressing cop who acted as a prince of the city. He didn't always go by the book, but he protected the innocent. He was slick, smart, and had a great heart. Now it's 2005 and there's a new version of Kojak starring Ving Rhames. It is superb. The character is still a sharp dressing prince of the city. He still doesn't do everything by the book and he still protects the innocent. Bobby Crocker is back. Frank MacNeil is back. The lollipops are back. The bald is back too. Most importantly, Kojak still has his heart of gold. I'm as happy watching Ving as I am watching Telly in the role on DVD. Both men bring their own individuality to the role, but the heart and soul of Kojak is there in both versions. The 2005 series truly maintains the integrity of the original character. Kojak is still one hell of a guy. This is how all remakes should be. It's excellent.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Greatest show on television

10/10
Author: inside_man from United States
2 May 2005

Tonights episode of Kojak was the single greatest episode of television I have ever seen. I am honored that people make such great television for me to watch. It has a beautiful, strong message that is greater than I could have hoped for. I look forward to Many, many years of this show and many awards. Well done USA Network you should be so proud of yourselves.It is high time that television does not pander to it's audiences. It is high time that we are told the truth. It is high time that a great actor like Ving is delivering such potent messages. I am so excited for this. Tonight's episode should be shown in schools. It is genius.When can we expect more episodes? This would be great to know.

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Absolutely Wonderful!!! USA Screwed Up Big Time!!!!

10/10
Author: jazznation from United States
6 August 2008

Although I never met Telly Savalas, he always impressed me as a person of style and compassion, it was quite evident in his acting prowess, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Ving Rhames' version of the series is the ultimate compliment, I would bet it all that if Mr. Savalas was alive to have seen this show, he would have been honored, Rhames was brilliant, the supporting cast, fantastic, I could care less about the ratings excuse, studio execs pull that stunt all the time with shows THEY don't like, what viewers of intelligent TV want is inconsequential to them, the same thing was said about the first season of "Hill Street Blues". but we all know how that turned out.

I also see the handwriting on the wall when it came to USA's unwillingness to bring "Kojak" back, but kept garbage like "Monk" and "Psyche", they've nothing to offer me since they canceled "Kojak". At least put the series on DVD, the excuse about it being canceled doesn't fly when I go into a video store and see "Day Break" and "Blade-The Series" on home video shelves, and this marvelous, under-appreciated work is marginalized and discarded.

At least the Sleuth Channel is streaming it online for the time being, but I want to see a reasonable time slot made available for it on their station.

Hint for TVOne or BET...Why didn't they step up and bring this series back? The CW? The MY/WB Network? This show should have enjoyed an extended run on somebody's network, but I smell what the entertainment industry in Hollywood is cooking...& it stinks.

Who loves ya, baby? Damn shame this show is gone.

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I wish another network would pick up this series

10/10
Author: night_wng from United States
22 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

1st, I have to say, there's some really idiotic people posting comments that do NOT reflect the truth. I saw remarks that say this updated Kojak is a "a cop on the edge" and the show is "Behind the times", using slow-mo effects, which are fabricated lies. I saw none of that in the pilot. The only 'cop on the edge' in this, would be Riggins, who clearly has no qualms about going outside the law or killing for purely selfish reasons. The way Kojak 'solve's one of the murders shows how he only condones killing, if it will keep people safe, yet it also causes him great distress personally, because he doesn't like to see anyone die, even if they're criminals.

I think this is the first time I've ever given any rating over 8. I watched the pilot for this series remake with low expectations, and some trepidation (I remember watching the original, as a boy), due to the complexities that Savalas brought to the original character. I was very surprised, and believe that this is better than the original. Both Telly and Ving display the multiple facets of Kojak's personality and his humanity, which most or all cop shows since the 80s are lacking. However, I think this one showed more depth of character than the original, probably due to the difference in writers or directors. I think it would've been a great prime-time show for any of the 4 major networks. The only thing I disliked, was that the pilot never gave an explanation for the tootsie roll fetish that Kojak has. To clarify that, in the original series, he used them as a means to quit smoking, a novel thing for the 70's, when there was still TV ads for cigarettes. The pilot clearly shows Kojak as a by-the-book cop, who sometimes has to work through everyday life, the same as all of us. It also shows that although he bends small rules, he does not break them or the law, except for one time. And that is because he has to decide which course of action will cause the least impact on public safety. If he goes one way, multiple prisoners might be set free, which would put people at great risk. On the other hand, if he goes another way, a victim's family would see no justice, and Kojak would know that particular case still isn't closed, and most of all, the public would still at risk, because the true killer would still be walking the streets. Instead, he decides on a course of action that will bring the family closure, and make the community safer. Once he does, it's very easy to interpret how much this affects Kojak's sense of morality. At the same time, you also know that what he did was right. One thing I've always liked about Kojak, he makes sure that whatever he does, does nothing to bring harm to any law abiding citizen within his jurisdiction. I recommend this to anyone who can find a copy.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Behind the times!!!

2/10
Author: imp-indahissy from United Kingdom
19 August 2005

Did not enjoy the new Kojak one little bit. The opening to the pilot was supposed to shock, but I just laughed. Compared to the current 'gritty' shows out there, this sucked (no pun intended!!!!). The way it was filmed put me off straight away. With dodgy slow motion techniques which should now belong in the dark ages. This has nothing I haven't seen before. Compared to high quality shows like Sopranos, The Shield, Six Feet Under, Lost & CSI, this is just poor. Don't get me wrong, I like Ving Rhames, he's a class act. But I think he's making a big mistake with this. Perhaps it will get better once the series is shown over her in the UK, but I doubt it.

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0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Doesn't stack up

2/10
Author: gehryoh from United States
12 May 2005

I started watching re-runs of Law and Order on USA about the same time Kojak started to air, and I think it's safe to say that as cheesy as Law and Order can get from time to time, it beats Kojak by a mile. With the former, there is at least lip service given to trying to break the typical mold for a cop drama. However, with Kojak I am hesitant to call anything that happens a "plot twist" as any so-called plot reveal can be seen coming from a mile away. This show is nothing short of a caricature of the generic cop drama, and therefor Hollywood's interpretation of what it takes to make a cop seem "bad" and "a renegade." I think it's a shame that the show's writers stoop to such lows to hammer home over and over that Kojak's a cop on the edge, willing to do whatever it takes to bring the bad man in, blah blah blah. This phony macho tough guy cop stuff is more overused than fart jokes on South Park, only in this case without the attached ironic humor.

It's hard to like a show that panders to the lowest common denominator of cop show watcher so quickly in its run, especially when within five episodes the chief is already engulfed in a crime mystery. That kind of lame sweeps-week cop-out (I better copyright this stupid pun before the Kojak writers see it) doesn't usually surface in a series's long journey to the middle until their ratings take a nose-dive, seeing as how ridiculous and pathetic it is as a basis for an episode's plot. Just watching the 'african-american boy from hard times trying to make it in the white man's world while being pressured to become a hoodlum" or the "he's a deadly sniper who'll kill you in a second but he's got a family and a split personality that includes a heart of gold" was enough to make me want to vomit and laugh at the same time, sort of a yuk-yak (back of Kojak, this one's mine too). Not only are these ludicrous ideas completely moronic, but they're done in such a heavy-handed way that there's no possible way to salvage any ability to be watched.

I gave you five episodes Kojak. Congratulations, I can't watch any more. Good luck Ving when you inevitably return to the small-part tough guy roles in summer flicks you are destined to play.

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