I picked up a disc of the old TV show Naked City from Netflix, mostly because I've been hearing the tag line “There are eight million stories in the naked city” all my life without having any clear idea what it was connected to.
Turns out these DVDs include the original commercials. In the episode I watched, “The Fault in Our Stars” (1961), the first commercial is an ad for Kentucky Kings cigarettes:
Naked City is presented by: Kentucky Kings! The only cigarette with a filter made of tobacco! An all-tobacco filter for that all-tobacco taste!
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
Anyway, am also intrigued to see how cop shows have evolved in the past fifty years. Like forensics, with three cops talking to a medical examiner at the scene of a murder:
Mike [I think]: Well, Doc, you wanna make a guess before the autopsy?
Doctor [who has an amazingly bushy left eyebrow]: Death by strangulation; that you know. By the marks on the throat, some kind of length of line, maybe clothesline. Death occurred before the body was put on the floor of the car. That is to say, it didn't just fall there, it was put there, probably to conceal it.
Adam: Can you give us a rough guess as to time, Doc?
Doctor: From body heat, et cetera et cetera, I'd say sometime between 10:30 and 11:30 this morning.
Some of the show is surprisingly modern; some unsurprisingly unmodern.
There's some interesting gender stuff, too. For example, one of the first questions the cops ask the doctor is whether a woman could have killed the guy. (But the doctor says it doesn't take much strength to strangle someone with a rope, but “psychologically, it's a strong-arm idea” and thus it's unlikely to have been a woman.)
And later, Adam's fiancee Libby, who's an actress, is reading a script for a play (because they know the murderer is an actor), and she reads a line from the play aloud (while shopping for nylons), and then says, offhandedly, “Why can't they write women's parts like this?”
And then there's this exchange, after Adam and Libby have been helping young policewoman Betty prepare to go undercover:
Libby: Adam, maybe you'd better see Betty into a cab—it's four o'clock in the morning.
Adam: Oh—yeah. [He gets his coat.]
Betty: [in a tone that makes clear that she doesn't need his help] I'm a policewoman on duty, remember?
So he doesn't go with her. And in that scene, she's clearly a smart and self-assured officer, especially notable given that by ten years later, American police forces were still only 2% female. (This is ten to fifteen years before Police Woman and Charlie's Angels.) —But then later, while Betty is undercover, she gets killed, and that turns out to cause Adam to do something a little later that leads him to the killer. So, again, an interesting mix, this time of feminist with not-so-feminist.
Anyway, the episode I saw wasn't all that great overall, despite a few nice moments; don't think I'll keep watching.
But here's one last quote, from a different medical examiner later in the episode: “Epithelial tissue is epithelial tissue.”
Hard to argue with that.