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Season Five and Quietus:
Among the true believers of Kresky fandom the mere mention of Season Five is enough to elicit groans and muttered oaths. Often prefaced by the words "ill-fated" and "infamous", season five of Kresky will never be described by anyone as a high water mark in the history of television crime drama. The 26 year old Martin Froug was woefully unprepared to head-up an hour long episodic series, particularly one that was already floundering in a ratings sink hole. His awkward attempts to revitalize the ailing program led to a precipitous decline in the writing and overall look of the series. Worst of all, Kresky seemed to lose -- or at least misplace -- the edgy, with-it attitude which had once been its trademark.
In a misguided attempt to re-inject some much needed humor into the now turgid and preachy drama, the writers gave Kresky a pet capuchin monkey named Moochie. Although Moochie proved to be popular with the kids, his addition was emblematic of the generally puerile trajectory into which the series had fallen. The character even sparked the unfortunate disco novelty hit "The Moochie"(and the unsuccessful follow-up "The Funky Monkey Bump"). To make matters worse, Matterly reportedly got on no better with the simian, veteran animal actor Cap'n Ruggles, than he had with his human co-star. The aging Cap'n Ruggles had earned quite a reputation for biting and lax toilet habits on set. Matterly characterized the monkey in TV Guide as "vicious, dirty and untalented". This no doubt accounts for Matterly's oddly stiff and uncomfortable performances when paired on-screen with the monkey.
As the orbit of this once great series rapidly decayed, the
stories seemed to become progressively more inane and implausible. Just
when you thought the writers couldn't possibly top the jaw-dropping
absurdity of a gang of circus animal assassins, they floored you with the
spectacle of Kresky dueling with the Prince of Darkness himself. Not
even beloved semi-regular characters like Dr. Pibb were safe from being
dragged through the mud by these wildly wayward stories.
But at no point did Kresky reach a more profound low than it did with the notorious and controversial "With Love, From Cantrell". A remarkable achievement in both unintentional camp and unfettered homophobia, this purportedly "daring" episode deals with an effeminate KGB agent who brainwashes Cantrell into believing he is in love with Kresky and must kill him as part of a homosexual suicide pact. One's heart cannot help but go out to Whitney who spends most of the episode speaking in a dreamy Southern drawl reminiscent of Blanche DuBois'. Almost as offensive as it is funny, it seems amazing today -- and, indeed, terribly unfortunate -- that this episode ever made it past the censors to air. It should also be noted that this was the third and last episode to be directed by Matterly.
Like Elvis, the once noble Kresky was going into his final days a grotesque, bloated self-parody. In mid October of 1980, the word came from Larry Rubin that the network was canceling the series. That should have been the end. By all rights, Kresky should have gone to its grave sad and defeated. And it probably would have if it weren't for the stunning eleventh-hour reappearance of Matt Jameson.
While still convalescing in the mountains west of LA, Jameson had gotten wind of the cancellation after stumbling across a copy of 'Variety' in a small town barber shop. According to Jameson, he came to a decision then and there. "I was determined that if Kresky was going to die," Jameson said to 'Newsweek', "he was going to die with dignity. I was going to tie up the loose ends and send him out with a bang." Jameson sat down and in a frenzied twenty-four hour period dashed off an epic two hour coda for the series which resolved both Kresky and Cantrell's searches for their loved ones' killers and killed off our hero on the last page.
Jameson returned to Hollywood, freshly minted script in hand, marched straight into Larry Rubin's office and demanded that he be allowed to finish what he had started. Rubin agreed on two conditions: that Kresky not die in the end ("Too downbeat," the executive declared) and that the LA State and County Arboretum stand-in for the Hawaiian location. Jameson readily acceded on both points and went directly from Rubin's office the Kresky soundstage where he relieved a shell-shocked Martin Froug of command.
On November 21 and November 28, 1980, the two-part series finale "The Death of Nicholas David Kresky" aired and our hero was finally allowed to settle the score with his fiancé's murderer, the diabolical Gustav Ozu -- who, in a stunning revelation, turned out to also be the killer of Cantrell's sister. For loyal fans, the episodes were a thrilling return to the Kresky of old and a special reward for not giving up on the series. There was something for everybody: passion, pathos, beautiful women, blazing gun battles and a thoughtful meditation on the nature of life, death and love. Unfortunately, few television viewers would see it. By the time production on the show had ceased, Kresky had fallen to a dismal number 54 in the ratings. The journey of Nicholas David Kresky had officially come to an end.P.H. Season 1
P.H. Season 2
P.H. Season 3
P.H. Season 4
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