Peter Gunn, 1958-1961. 9/10

Everything’s cool in this series: the criminals, the hangouts, the dialogue, the noir scenes, the cars…and, of course, our private eye, Peter Gunn.

He outfoxes both the cops and the criminals, he’s got a knock-out girl friend, he fights his way out of tons of scrapes with hoods; crime drama doesn’t get much better. Tight plotting builds the suspense; action tumbles out in timely fashion. As other reviewers have mentioned, the transitions are slick–you’re set up for the breaks as they occur. Peter Gunn is sort of like if Paul Drake’s character from Perry Mason had his own show.

I mention Drake not only because the two series were contemporary with each other, but also because I find William Hopper a more interesting actor than Craig Stevens. Gunn is so cool he’s practically glacial. Drake manages the cool panache with enough of an ‘everyman’ touch to seem more believable. Luckily, Gunn’s Edie, the amusing Mother, and even Lt. Jacoby add plenty of spice to the surroundings. The supporting cast and great scripts ensure that Gunn’s blandness remains only a minor letdown.

Peter Gunn does more in its thirty minutes than most feature-length crime dramas manage in an hour and a half. Maybe if Gunn didn’t look like he got a haircut every day I’d never stop watching this series. As it is, hugely entertaining, and almost perfect. 9/10.

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