April 24, 1989 12:00 PM

ABC (Sun., April 23,9 P.M. ET)


The original Peter Gunn was before my time. No, actually, it was after my bedtime. Back in 1958, I got up for Captain Kangaroo but couldn’t stay up for suave, lady-killing TV detectives like Gunn. So I don’t know whether Gunn is worthy of resurrection. Blake Edwards thinks he is. Edwards, the creator of the original Gunn and of some good movies (Breakfast at Tiffany’s; The Pink Panther; Victor, Victoria), hasn’t made a decent flick in a while (John Ritter’s Skin Deep is his latest), so he’s returning to TV to make a new Gunn—half new. He’s bringing back Henry Mancini to write the score. And he’s replacing the original star—Craig Stevens—with Peter (The Brotherhood of the Rose) Strauss. The original Gunn could have invented many of the standards of the TV detective show—the ditzy secretary, the anonymous phone call that warns the gumshoe to “stay out or you’re a dead man,” the chase, the shoot-out, the opening and closing scenes in the hero’s hangout—but now these are all TV clichés. Whether this new Gunn copied its ancestor or every other crime show on TV, the result is the same: predictability. The detective genre has advanced since 1958, thanks to Miami Vice and Moonlighting, but Gunn has not. Edwards forgot to copy the best of his original show. The old Gunn was a half hour long. This one is stretched to two slow hours.

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