Sunday, November 06, 2011

Land of the Lost TV Series #2: Midnight Caller

If you recognize the line, "Good night America...wherever you are" then you were a Midnight Caller fan. This was one of my favorite TV shows while I was in high school. There were a few reasons for it: namely, another friend and I both thought that lead actor Gary Cole (before his Office Space role) was super hot, the plots were interesting, and it differed from other cop series of its time in that the lead character doubled as a San Francisco radio talk-show host known to his listeners as The Nighthawk. Midnight Caller ran for three seasons, although I wonder if it's ever remembered much in TV history. 

Gary Cole starred on Midnight Caller as Detective Jack Killian, a cop who quit the force after accidentally shooting and killing his partner. Now dealing with a drinking problem, he gets a call one day from Devon King, the beautiful owner of a San Francisco FM radio station. She offers him a job working as a radio talk show host late at night, taking calls from listeners and trying to help solve their personal problems. (Now granted, this part of the premise never made sense to me--why would a radio station randomly call an alcoholic ex-cop and offer him an on-air job for which he has no experience? Whatevers.) Jack got personally involved with many of his callers' plights and acted as a detective during the day to solve crimes (which means the man didn't get much sleep.) Billy Po, played by Dennis Dun, was Killian's sidekick on both of his jobs. 




Midnight Caller sometimes worked controversial topics into its storylines. One such notable episode was called "After It Happened" and was about a bi-sexual man with AIDS who infects women with the HIV virus on purpose. It was one of the first times the disease would be part of a network television plot, and because people thought it portrayed bisexuals in a negative light, it sparked protests by GLADD and AIDS activists. Nonetheless, one of the woman who co-starred in it won an Emmy for her role in the episode.


My favorite character on the show was Devon King, played by Wendy Kilbourne. I was delighted to see comments from male viewers/fans on YouTube clips who admired Devon's style, because I did as well. She was one classy and smart business lady, and one of the few female TV characters I looked up to. Jack had a thing for her, and sometimes the chemistry between these two on screen seemed very believable. In between struggling with drinking and family issues, Jack had a few loves on the show, but like most viewers I really wanted to see him and Devon end up together. They almost did during an episode where Devon had to deal with a stalker and Jack camped out at her apartment to protect her, which ensued in a steamy kiss. But eventually Kilbourne wanted to leave the show and was pregnant, so the writers had her character get pregnant by another man. This scene that I found online, after Devon has her baby, is the last moment she shares on screen with Jack. Both actors did a fine job showing the adoration they had for each other...the hint of a relationship that was never meant to me...and it made me a bit sad to watch! Oh, and of course, Devon named her son Jack.

 

There's a ton of full episodes of the show on YouTube, but they're in Japanese! Proof that the show had international appeal.

This was a good and unique series. I miss shows that can put an interesting twist on the same old premise and keep us coming back for more, the way Midnight Caller did for me each week. Do you remember the series?

3 comments:

Analogmoon said...

It's a shame this shows is not on dvd. There is one episode on Youtube in English. I use to watch it when it was on.

I would also like to see Boston Commons on dvd.

Kathy A said...

I loved Midnight Caller -- I never missed it. But Kilbourne was supposed to stay with the show after she got pregnant -- there was an interview with her in TV Guide at the end of the second season in which she said she was so excited about being able to bring the baby to the set. Then, at the beginning of the third season, she was written out. I never understood what happened.

After she left, the show lost a lot of attraction for me. I loved Gary Cole, but he and Lisa Eilbacher (Kilbourne's replacement) had zero chemistry -- while Cole and Kilbourne lit up the screen.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Kathy A -- Happy to hear from another fan of this show. Thanks for filling us in about Wendy Kilbourne. Perhaps she changed her mind before the third season. Gary Cole now has a recurring role on The Good Wife.

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