Banacek

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This article is about the TV series. For the mentalist/entertainer, see Banachek.
Banacek
George Peppard Linda Evans Banacek 1974.JPG
Peppard and guest star Linda Evans, 1974.
Format Crime, Mystery fiction
Starring George Peppard
Ralph Manza
Murray Matheson
Christine Belford
George Murdock
Theme music composer Billy Goldenberg[1]
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 17
Production
Executive producer(s) George Eckstein
Producer(s) Howie Horwitz
Running time 90 min
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 8, 1972 (1972-10-08) – September 3, 1974 (1974-09-03)
Chronology
Related shows NBC Mystery Movie

Banacek (pronounced "BAN-a-check") is an American detective TV series starring George Peppard that aired on the NBC network from 1972 to 1974. The series was part of the rotating NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie anthology. It alternated in its time slot with several other shows but was the only one to last beyond its first season.

Premise[edit]

Peppard played Thomas Banacek, a suave, Polish-American freelance investigator based in Boston, who solved seemingly impossible thefts (see locked room mystery). He then collected from the insurance companies 10% of the insured value of the recovered property. One of Banacek's verbal signatures was the quotation of strangely worded yet curiously cogent "Polish" proverbs such as:

  • "If you're not sure that it's potato borscht, there could be orphans working in the mines."
  • "Though the hippopotamus has no sting, the wise man would prefer to be sat upon by the bee."
  • "A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn."
  • "If a wolf is after your sleigh throw him a raisin cookie—but don't stop to bake him a cake."
  • "Just because the cat has her kittens in the oven doesn't make them biscuits."
  • "You can read all the books in the library my son, but the cheese will still stink after four days."
  • "No matter how warm the smile on the face of the Sun, the cat still has her kittens under the porch."

Part of the joke was that Ralph Manza as Banacek's chauffeur Jay Drury, would often ask "What does it mean, Boss?" Banacek also had a running agreement with his chauffeur for a 10% share of Banacek's 10% if he solved the crime. Mr. Drury was never at a loss for a potential solution which Banacek would always manage to shoot down with his very next line. Another recurring gag was for other characters to mispronounce his name, often, particularly in the case of rivals, deliberately. The name "Banaczek" (as pronounced in the show) is actually quite rare in Poland.

Also featured were Murray Matheson as rare-bookstore owner and information source Felix Mulholland and Christine Belford as Carlie Kirkland, Banacek's sometime-lover and always-rival.

Banacek's success as an investigator allowed him to live well. He had a mansion at 85 Mt. Vernon Street, (the same house used in The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen)[citation needed] on Beacon Hill in Boston. He had a limousine and driver. He owned and drove an antique 1941 Packard convertible. He had a mobile radio telephone in each of his cars at a time when these devices were uncommon and expensive. Banacek was intelligent, well-educated, cultured and suave. He was an unapologetic ladies man who enjoyed the company of beautiful women, but he was street-smart and could engage in violent hand-to-hand fighting if the moment called for it.

Production[edit]

In general the series was shot on the Universal Studios backlot, though location scenes were filmed around Los Angeles in areas that could pass for Boston, or rural areas near there. The episode titled "If Max Is So Smart, Why Doesn't He Tell Us Where He Is?" was shot on location at the California Institute of the Arts around the time the school first opened. "Ten Thousand Dollars A Page" was filmed at the Pasadena Art Museum, later known as the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art and now the Norton Simon Museum of Art.

A customized 1969 American Motors AMX was built by George Barris for the second regular season episode. The car became known as the AMX-400 and it is now owned by an automobile collector. Other continuing cars in the series were a 1941 Packard 180 with a Victoria body designed by Howard "Dutch" Darrin (license plate number 178344), a 1973 Corvette (driven by Ms. Kirkland) and a 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine (mobile telephone number KL 17811). In keeping with both the exotic car theme and the humor between Banacek and his driver Jay Drury, he was even chauffeured around in an ancient Jeep and a brand new Ford / De Tomaso Pantera...

In preparation for both the pilot, first, and then the second seasons the cast went to Boston and filmed a variety of background scenes. These scenes were then used through the series and are especially shown in the opening scenes including Banacek rowing on the Charles River and walking through Government Center. In the pilot, Banacek's car pulls into his Beacon Hill home, the historic Second Harrison Gray Otis House located at 85 Mount Vernon Street. In other episodes, views are shown of the Public Garden, the entry to Felix's bookstore at 50 Beacon Street, and the Esplanade. The Boston filmed pieces were done by a second unit and directed by Peppard himself.

Reception[edit]

Although the show had a mixture of humor and rather intricate plots, it never generated strong ratings. Despite this, the show was well received by critics. In addition, the Polish American Congress gave the series an award for portraying Polish Americans in a good manner.[2]

Banacek renewed for third season, Peppard quits[edit]

Banacek was well received by television critics, and as a result was picked up for a third season. However, before the third season could start, Peppard quit the show in order to prevent his ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley from receiving a larger percentage of his earnings as part of their divorce settlement. The complication ended any chance of reviving Banacek during Peppard's lifetime. A&E (TV channel) continued rebroadcasts of Banacek in syndication.[3]

Episodes[edit]

Pilot: 1972[edit]

Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
0 "Banacek: Detour to Nowhere" Jack Smight Anthony Wilson 20 March 1972
Banacek finds himself in a race against his old adversary, Chief McKinney of the National Meridian Insurance Company, to solve the case of a missing armored truck carrying $1,600,000 of gold bullion that disappeared without a trace while under a police escort.

Season 1: 1972–73[edit]

Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
1 "Let's Hear It for a Living Legend" Jack Smight Del Reisman 13 September 1972
Banacek is called in after a football player vanishes on national TV. Guest stars Stefanie Powers, Anitra Ford and John Brodie.
2 "Project Phoenix" Richard T. Heffron David Moessinger 27 September 1972
Banacek investigates the disappearance of a valuable prototype automobile from a moving train (an idea borrowed from a Thorpe Hazell short story). Guest stars William Windom, Joanna Pettet, Bert Convy.
3 "No Sign of the Cross" Daryl Duke Robert Presnell Jr.,
Howard Browne
11 October 1972
Banacek searches for a valuable church artifact that disappeared from a sealed box. Guest star Broderick Crawford.
4 "A Million the Hard Way" Bernard L. Kowalski Stanley Ralph Ross 1 November 1972
A million dollars vanishes from a Las Vegas casino display. Guest star Margot Kidder; writer Stanley Ralph Ross appears as Larry Fields.
5 "To Steal A King" Louis Antonio Stephen Kandel 15 November 1972
Banacek searches for a missing coin collection. Guest stars Kevin McCarthy, Brenda Vaccaro, Pernell Roberts, Roger C. Carmel, Janis Paige.
6 "Ten Thousand Dollars a Page" Richard T. Heffron Paul Playdon 10 January 1973
A valuable book disappears from a highly secure room. Guest stars Stella Stevens, David Wayne.
7 "The Greatest Collection of Them All" George McCowan Theodore J. Flicker 24 January 1973
A charity art exhibit disappears right off the truck during shipment. Guest stars Penny Fuller, Mike Farrell.
8 "The Two Million Clams of Cap'n Jack" Richard T. Heffron Stanley Ralph Ross,
Shirl Hendryx,
Pat Fielder,
Richard Bluel
7 February 1973
Plates used in the printing of stock certificates vanish. Guest stars Andrew Duggan, Jessica Walter.

Season 2: 1973–74[edit]

Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
9 "No Stone Unturned" Richard T. Heffron Stephen Lord,
Robert Van Scoyk,
Lee Santley,
George Sheldon Smith
3 October 1973
Banacek must locate a three-ton statue that disappeared. Guest stars Candy Clark, Scott Brady, Gary Lockwood.
10 "If Max Is So Smart, Why Doesn't He Tell Us Where He Is?" Bernard L. Kowalski Robert Van Scoyk 7 November 1973
A huge medical computer vanishes from its secure building. Guest stars Anne Baxter, Richard Jordan.
11 "The Three Million Dollar Piracy" Andrew McLaglen Stanley Ralph Ross,
Robert Van Scoyk,
Jack Turley
21 November 1973
An expensive wedding coach is stolen from the hold of a ship. Guest star Arlene Martel.
12 "The Vanishing Chalice" Bernard L. Kowalski Morton Fine 15 January 1974
An ancient chalice disappears from a museum during the unveiling. Guest star Cesar Romero, John Saxon.
13 "Horse of a Slightly Different Color" Herschel Daugherty Harold Livingston,
Jimmy Sangster
22 January 1974
A racehorse disappears from the track during an exercise run. With Anne Francis, Terry Wilson, Lane Bradbury, and Harry Carey, Jr..
14 "Rocket to Oblivion" Andrew McLaglen Robert Van Scoyk 12 February 1974
A prototype rocket engine vanishes during a private showing. With Linda Evans.
15 "Fly Me — If You Can Find Me" Bernard L. Kowalski Harold Livingston 19 February 1974
After an emergency landing, a charter airliner vanishes. Sterling Hayden, Victoria Principal.
16 "Now You See Me, Now You Don't" Bernard McEveety Stanley Roberts 12 March 1974
A stage magician, suspected of grand larceny, disappears during his act — but for real. Guest stars Gretchen Corbett, Peter Marshall.

DVD releases[edit]

Arts Alliance America has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1. Season 1 was released on May 15, 2007, without the series pilot. Season 2 was released on January 22, 2008 and included the pilot episode. On September 30, 2008, Arts Alliance released Banacek: The Complete Series, a 5-disc boxset featuring all 16 episodes. As of 2012, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment has released both seasons on DVD in Australia.[4][5]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Harris, Steve (1988). Film, television, and stage music on phonograph records: a discography. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-89950-251-9. OCLC 15790964. 
  2. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 85. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  3. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Banacek.html
  4. ^ http://www.madman.com.au/actions/catalogue.do?releaseId=13227&method=view
  5. ^ http://www.madman.com.au/catalogue/view/13229/banacek-the-complete-second-season-4-dvd-set&webChannelId=18

External links[edit]