CBS (ended 1990)





Kojak Fan Reviews (7)

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out of 10
210 votes
  • Above-average 1970s TV crime drama.

    Kojak is a formula crime drama which is good but not great in many respects. Interesting to watch mostly as a period piece; an excellent Technicolor cinematographic study of New York as it was in the Seventies, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center make numerous appearances. Plenty of wocka-wocka guitar, sometimes augmented by a female soul chorus, in the incidental music. And the wardrobe and hairstyles of that era range from the fascinating to the ridiculous.

    Kojak, played by the late Telly Savalas, is the lone character with any depth. Savalas does a creditable job in the lead role, winning one of the show's two Emmys. Dan Fraser is good as Kojak's superior along with Savalas' brother George as one of the lesser detectives.

    Our villains are the usual suspects including Cosa Nostra-types of varying ethnicities, psychotic serial killers and narco-traffickers, the latter occasionally styled on characters from Blaxploitation films of the early Seventies.

    One Kojak icon has become part of law-enforcement lore, Savalas made the shaved head very popular for lawmen in divers roles, ranging from your local sheriff to Treasury agents. Fading from the public memory is the Kojak lollipop, used to self-medicate an oral compulsion aggravated by nicotine withdrawal. Today, few people under fifty recognize the Kojak catchphrase, "Who loves ya, baby?".

    One cannot help but notice that Theo Kojak had excellent taste in clothes, or at least the costume designer for the series did. I often wondered why The Dapper Cop's superiors did not suspect him of being "on the pad", that he might afford his costly wardrobe.

    Presently Kojak is available in syndication intended for broadcast DTV secondary channels but in the form of faded, shopworn prints interrupted by hucksters of for-profit trade schools and products for today's active seniors. Better to view selected episodes by download or DVD.

    To sum up, Kojak is worth a look for the photography which captures the impressive skylines, the opulent apartments as well as the grimy, hole in the wall locations of New York. It's worth a listen for the soundtrack, including main theme by John Cacavas. Stories, production values and overall dramatic effect are slightly above average for a crime drama of the era. I would rank it as #2 television crime drama of the Seventies, fairly well behind Hawaii Five-O but better than the Quinn-Martin productions.