The Roaring 20's

ABC (ended 1962)


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The Roaring 20's Fan Reviews (2)

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  • A hastily created gangsters and reporters in the 1920's series put out in the wake of the blockbuster UNTOUCHABLES, but it's third rate all the way. A look at a long ago decade by and for people who couldn't care less.

    One might think that Warner Brothers, the Hollywood studio that gave us so many fine films in the tough guy-mean streets-cops and robbers genre, who arguably created the world's image of the American gangster, could put out a TV series about such men and those themes. Alas, there are no Public Enemy or Little Caesers here. The studio instead relied on their TV production formula; load the cast with handsome hunky guys, and alternately star a different one each week. This worked well with 77 Sunset Strip and Maverick, where most of these fellows had a personality that could get them through, and beyond the series. Not so much here, with bland character actors like Mike Road and Donald May doing the work. Instead of the fast-paced, wisecracking urban lowbrows that inhabit Warner Brothers flicks in the 1930's and 40's, They seem to be square college boys turned reporters that fall into crime stories. The stories themselves have little to do with the Untouchables, or the cynical milieu of the great Warner pictures of the era. They are highly melodramatic, insincere tear jerkers or just stupid, like an episode where Voodoo dolls came into play.
    The look of the series is cheap too, with a shameless overuse of vintage stock footage and bits of older films, including the actual film, The Roaring Twenties (1939). Often not even the slightest effort is taken to clothe or hairdress the performers in period style, the girls sometimes look like they just walked off a 1961 Dior runway. Even the stock footage will show 1950's cars in use.
    The producers probably looked upon their show as nothing more than a fake Untouchables, so they put in something that Ness and the boys never much bother with- music! Every episode has at least one number, sung by Dorothy Provine in her antiseptic "Speakeasy" set. Though Warner Brothers had a large library of music , and even pioneered the film musical, most of the songs used are pop tunes predating that. She delivers her 50's Vegas lounge act versions of old croakers like Has Anybody Seen My gal?. If memory serves, they emphisized this as a draw for the series, and had even issued an album by Miss Provine commemorating it. Ironically, the theme song is one of the worst ever written-with lyrics like "The roaring, never boring, twenties" and rhyming "gun molls" with "fun molls".
  • The Untouchables Lite

    Roaring 20's was an attempt by ABC as well as Warner Brothers studios to cash in on the success of the similarly themed hit series The Untouchables. The fact that it lasted for only a season and a half says it all about how much success the show had. The show was basically a watered down version of The Untouchables featuring the same Prohibition Era themes but without the former show's oomph and edginess. Nonetheless, Roaring 20's did have its share of good moments though not enough of them to ensure the show a longer run.

    I've watched 10 episodes of the series. One, The Prairie Flower, was very good while two more (The Red Carpet and Layoff Charley) were solid, well-written episodes. All the rested were pretty mediocre which tells me that the writers and producers were capable of an occasional good episode but more often than not they came up short.

    Part of the problem was the cast. Both of the leading men, Rex Reason and Donald May, were acting lightweights who appeared to be cast more for their good looks than their acting ability. The scripts, as mentioned before, tended to be average with an occasional good one thrown in. This made things uneven from episode to episode. As Forrest Gump might have said, "This show is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you might get." Despite the casting flaws in regards to the show's leads, the supporting cast was okay. Dorothy Provine sang and danced her little heart out as singer Delaware "Pinky" Pinkham. She wasn't bad either when the scripts called for her character to be dramatic. Mike Road was also very good as the token police detective on the show. The writers tended to give Road's character all the best one-liners and he could spout 'em with the best. Gary Vinson was also likable as copy boy Chris Higbe even if his acting didn't have much depth to it.

    All in all, the show was enjoyable at times even though it's a long way from a classic. Provine seems to be fairly well remembered for her work on the show so perhaps that's how Roaring 20's should be remembered as well. A good vehicle for Dorothy Provine to strut her stuff amidst all the mediocrity around her with an occasional good episode thrown into the mesh.