The Power Records Podcast 26 – Kojak!


Chris and Rob are hitting the New York streets to take a look at two book-and-record adventures starring Kojak!

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23 responses to “The Power Records Podcast 26 – Kojak!

  1. While driving into work on this cold Sunday morning, I got to listen to this show. Amazing! A Kojak power record!

    I, of course, knew about Kojak growing up. I saw commercials of course. And the fact that he was bald and confident seemed to be unique in the 70s. In college, A&E (or some such channel) showed repeats in the afternoon and occasionally my roommate would watch. One episode, Kojak used pretty brutal racist terms while questioning an African-American. Insanity!

    Anyways, this record is crazy with it’s casual violence. And while in the second story Kojak says the perp got what he deserved, I was surprised that both stories talked about ‘victimless’ white collar crime. As if Kojak was okay with some criminals while others deserved to be gunned down.

    Lastly, I have to laugh at Chris’ comment about Players Club. Again, while in college, Savalas was in a commercial about that card and how it got you access into ‘Clubs! Casinos!’. To this day, my group of friends will say ‘Clubs! Casinos!’ when we talk about where should we meet.

    Thanks again!

  2. Absolutely fascinating show; like many I’m sure, I find it astonishing that there are Power Records productions featuring Kojak. And after listening to them, I have to say I don’t think they’re bad, they’re just not for little kids at all – as Chris (I think) noted, they sound more like radio dramas meant for a considerably older audience.
    And while I didn’t watch much Kojak either in its first run (I have some vague early memories of my older siblings watching it on our old b&w TV set) or in reruns, I think the stories here definitely correspond to what one could see on the show. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these had been adapted from actual episodes.

    By the way, I have to say that your last episode, covering Space 1999, prompted me to begin watching the actual series for the first time since I was very small. Both seasons are up on YouTube, and this summer – after the big earthquake in March destroyed the old set we had in our bedroom – we finally purchased one of those new-fangled TVs that has an internet access feature. So I recently got through the first season, and have just started watching the second (man, quite a tonal shift between those two seasons, by the way). If anyone on the network ever decides to do a Space 1999 show, I’ll be chiming in with all kinds of thoughts, not all of them complimentary…

    1. Yeah, even if it’s Kojak! I was resigned to the idea that by pressing “play” on this episode, I was confirming that I would listen to the people on this network talk about ANYTHING. But then it was good! I mean, both stories wrapped up a little too easily, but as Rob said, they’re working under time constraints.

      I was too young for Kojak when it was running, but as Chris and Rob point out, it made an impact on the culture. Even years later, people kept referencing it, and it felt like Kojak was constantly making cameos in Mad and Cracked magazines. I first watched Telly Savalas in repeat broadcasts of The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes. Even then, I knew what he was most famous for.

      Two observations inspired by this episode:
      1) As Matt and Chuck point out below, the way we watched TV was different then, and kids got exposed to some mature themes. I wonder which way is better — watching TV with your parents, seeing this stuff, and then talking with them about it, or having reality filtered by Disney Channel and Nickelodeon?
      2) Man, New York was rough in the seventies. I don’t know first hand, but this episode reminds me of the stories people have told me. I think maybe you couldn’t tell a contemporary story set in New York without dealing with some of this grit and grime — not without coming across as inauthentic.

      You can’t see me, but I’m sheepishly raiding my hand. Consider me a volunteer. I would listen to more Kojak.

  3. as a big KOjak fan I can say this is a lot more like Kojak than Star trek was like Star trek. Right down to assuming we know what the Hell Policy is. I did’nt know that till I read Lanston Huges at 25. But man alive it’s a great show it’s my second fave 70s cop show. It’s not as good as the original hawi five-0 but NOTHING IS!

  4. Ahhh the 70s. When we grew up watching monster movies on Saturday Mornings, violent westerns in the afternoons and cops and robbers shooting it out in tv. If you missed any of it, you could listen to it via Power Records and see it the accompanying comic book or visualize it in the theater if the mind.
    No one one worried too much about how these rampaging monsters or gun crazy criminals impacted our little brains. And why should they? At their hearts they were all little morality plays were right was right and wrong got you riddled with the bullets of righteousness!
    Seems like we all turned out ok.

  5. Great episode! As for the “violence” in the Kojak episodes I don’t really see that as a big deal for kids in the 1970s. With fewer channels & choices, most families watched their 1 TV in the home together as a unit. Kids weren’t as shielded from the harsh realities of life as they are now. Heck, lots of kids watched the Norman Lear sitcoms, MASH, and other fare with no problem. When I was a kid, Three’s Company was the one sitcom we weren’t allowed to watch. In the 1980s, kids were a big part of the Golden Girls audience despite some “racy” moments (thanks Blanche!).

    I do hope you fellas decide to run the other Kojak record episodes. I recall my parents watching Kojak when I was little. They liked the interplay between Kojak & Crocker (played by the late Kevin Dobson). Dan Frazer was another character actor who pops up a lot on TV from the 1960s to early 2000s. He has a small part in 3 Woody Allen films, most memorably as the priest in a cigarette commercial in Bananas.

    Here’s a link to an Electric Company cover with Kojak & Spidey:

  6. Thanks for another great episode, gentlemen. As a kid back in the late 70s/early 80s, I knew about Kojak, even though I never watched an episode of the show. Now, I’m wondering how I knew about the character back then. I have a vague memory of a Kojak-like puppet/muppet character, complete with trademark lollipop, but I can find no evidence on the internet of such a children’s character ever existing. Perhaps, Kojak was just part of the zeitgeist during that time period?

    1. Brian, I remember this. I can’t find it either. It’s weird sharing a delusion with someone you’ve never met. Is this what Richard Dreyfus’s character went through in Close Encounters?

        1. I too have vague memories of the Kojak muppet, and Savalas himself did cameo in the 1979 muppet movie. I think the muppet might have been part of the Sesame Street crew–probably in the 70s when the cop series itself was on. I went looking online and the closest direct homage I could find was a character from 1990 named “Smelly Tavales” who looked nothing like Kojak, but did look a little like Savalas from “The Muppet Movie”. There is a Dragnet parody muppet called “Sergeant Thursday” who debuted in 1972.

        2. I don’t recall a Kojak puppet, but I do remember an Electric Company sketch. Morgan Freeman was Sherlock Holmes, another actor was Kojak and a third was Columbo. They sang a song with the refrain “Who done it?” The Kojak character recites the line “Don’t let this lollipop fool ya.” And the Columbo character expressed his fixation on a shoe

          1. I remember these skits (particularly the “Who Done It?” song, where they introduce themselves and their varying investigation styles) and have been looking for them for years. That’s how I found this thread, in fact.

            I’m pretty sure that Jim Boyd was Kojak (Krojak, I think) and Luis Avalos was Columbo.

  7. Thank you both for unearthing and sharing this!

    Also, Kojak subbing for Luther? It tracks! See the original Puzo script for Superman 1!

  8. I did not realize this was a book & record. I was only aware of the LP which is what I had when I was a kid. Honestly, I don’t remember much about it. I don’t really know much about the Kojak TV show (I’ll be 50 this year) and it may have been before my time. It isn’t on in reruns anywhere and I would like to see it. As for the podcast I enjoyed hearing these for what was probably the first time. As a kid I found it boring. I mean, after all, as a kid I would much rather listen to Hulk, Spiderman, Batman or Planet of The Apes. I wonder how many kids at the time actually bought this record?

    On an unrelated note last year while browsing the used record store I saw a copy of The Six Million Dollar Man LP. The for sale price listed on it? $6,000,000! I had to laugh when I saw that!

  9. This Kojak Power Record brings to mind episodes of old radio programs from the 40s and 50s. The stories would fit right in with episodes of Boston Blackie, Dragnet, Nick Carter, or Yours Truly Johnny Dollar.
    Like you, and many of your listeners, Kojak ran when I was very young. I can’t say I ever watched the show, but Telly Savalas’ image, trademark lollipop, and catchphrase ‘Who loves ya, baby?’ were recognizable pop-culture references well into the 80s.
    During the second story, I half expected Rob to pick up the needle when the ex-wife was killed. “That punk just shot Lady Cop?!?”

    1. Paul, if I heard the story right, the ex-wife lived! There were only TWO cold-blooded murders for the sake of more money and staying out of prison in the second story, i.e., this paragon of children’s entertainment. The ex-wife was merely a case of attempted murder, assault of a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon, mayhem, etc., and we’ve all been there, am I right?

      It’s a tough world out there. These kids need to know that Kojak is willing to rough up, lock up, or shoot to kill any two-bit thugs, street hustlers, button men, or wise guys that give them grief. Who loves ya, baby? Your hard bitten, tough-as-nails Uncle Theo, that’s who. And don’t you forget it! Here, have a lollipop, and don’t drink any of Crocker’s coffee unless your life depends on it.

      1. Oh, and the prosecutor would probably add obstructing justice and resisting arrest, but those are just bargaining chips, really.

  10. Wow. I use to joke about this as a runing gag. Never thought ya’ll would do the Kojak Power Record. That was awesome. Was grinning ear to ear threw the whole pod cast. Can’t wait to hear the next one.

  11. Hi,

    So given the whole Dr. Strange thing it may not surprise you to read that I listen to a lot of Old Time Radio. This kind of reminded me of some old detective radio shows from that era and something occurred to me as a result. What if Power Records were aiming for two audiences? Power Records came out in the 70s and 80s. So parents and grandparents may well have grown up on radio shows from the 40s and 50s before they were replaced by television. That might explain why some of them are so dark. They were trying to do what the Batman cartoon in the 90s succeeded at, cater to both children and their parents.

    Obviously I don’t know if this is true. But radio shows like Dragnet lasted well into the 50s and even the Superman radio show lasted until 1951. Parents who heard those shows growing up could be in their thirties and forties when these records were coming out and might be interested. I don’t know. Just a theory.

    Thanks for the new episode!

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