Most helpful positive review
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2006
Having just watched Set 1, I didn't expect a whole lot of evident changes in PETER GUNN SET 2. Set one contained the first sixteen episodes of the private eyes series from 1958, Set 2 episodes seventeen through thirty-two. Peter Gunn (Craig Stevens) still hangs out and headquarters at Mothers, the smoky jazz club run by the imposing Mother (Hope Emerson.) Gunn's girlfriend Edie (Lola Albright) is still huskily breathing out torch songs and melting butter at ten feet. And Herschel Bernardi as Police Lt. Jacoby is still tucked underneath fedora and trenchcoat, every ready to collaborate with Gunn in solving crimes.
Still, I enjoyed the second set more than the first. The first set seemed to be aiming at some kind of gritty realism, and most of the stories took place on the docks, the pier, or the abandoned warehouse. They missed, and in place of realism they seemed over-populated with dingy locales and Poverty Row-worthy plots and characters. The episodes in the second set seem to breathe a little more. It helps that the locations are comparatively exotic - a Texas cattle ranch, an overstuffed antique shop, and the ever reliable carnival midway are just a few of the places where crimes are committed and solved.
Of course, the music is still great. After the ultra-cool Cary Grant-lookalike Craig Stevens, the hero of these programs in the Henry Mancini scores. Well, that and a little more. `Peter Gunn' has a few repeating characters, the most welcome of which is the 3'9" Billy Barty and the pool shark (he drags the box he stands on around the table as he surveys his next shot) and sometime informant. Another treat are the jazz musicians who appear as themselves now and then - included among that crew in this set is drummer Shelly Manne and flamenco guitarist Laurindo Almeida. There are a few clunkers in the set, of course, but I suppose that's to be expected. It's hard writing a twenty-five minute crime story. You have to create the crime, present a handful of likely suspects with plausible motives, and leave enough time for Pete & Edie to sneak away for some sincere snuggling now and then. In this set of episodes that happens more often than not, and merits a strong recommendation.