Following in Battlestar Galactica's footsteps, another series from the 70s has been redone:
That's what Rhames gives us in the series premiere of USA's "Kojak" cable remake, debuting tonight at 9: brooding, sensitivity, lollys and, when he reaches a breaking point, tears. Not to overstate it -- Rhames's Kojak only sniffles a couple of times -- but do you remember Telly Savalas' Kojak boo-hooing much, if at all? Exactly.
If you want wisecracking, street tough, dry-eyed "Kojak," rent the DVDs of the original's first season that were released this week. They're better Friday night viewing than this boring two-hour pilot.
Savalas perfected Kojak in the '70s and, if anything, Rhames proves he's irreplaceable. There was something about his amiable slickness, his sarcasm, his "Who loves ya, baby?" that no one can copy. In all fairness, Rhames doesn't. What he does is worse. This Kojak cares too darn much. Maybe between the '70s and now, the character attended some men's retreat, where he wore a loincloth, beat some drums and uncorked his feelings. Now he's back on the mean streets, a little less Telly, a little more Teddy Ruxpin.
There's nothing wrong with taking an original series and giving it a complete overhaul. Sci Fi's "Battlestar Galactica" completely tore down the original and rebuilt a different, far better mythology from its foundation. It can be done.
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