‘Peter Gunn' — The Complete Series
Sophisticated film noir came to television in the fall of 1958 when the private detective series “Peter Gunn” debuted on NBC-TV, and all 114 episodes are available for the first time in the 12-DVD box set, “Peter Gunn” — The Complete Series.
Created by Tulsa-born producer-writer-director Blake Edwards, with a state-of-the-art, Grammy-winning modern jazz score by Henry Mancini, this show crackled with suspense, hard-knuckled, hair-trigger action and cool, clever dialogue, especially when Pete traded barbs with no-nonsense police Lieutenant Jacoby (an acerbic Herschel Bernardi) or exchanged sexy sweet-nothings with his gorgeous nightclub-singing flame Edie Hart (a sultry Lola Albright).
Craig Stevens defined hip and debonair as Peter Gunn, sort of an Americanized, street-wise version of Cary Grant, who was equally conversant with coffeehouse beatniks, ex-con informants, hustlers, cops and the social elite — not to mention ladies of all walks of life.
Most of the action takes place at night in an unnamed waterfront city, and potential clients know the best place to find Pete during his nocturnal business hours is a riverside jazz club called Mother's, where Edie is the featured singer and the proprietor is a tough but tenderhearted, matronly individual named — what else — Mother (Hope Emerson in the first season, Minerva Urecal in seasons two and three).
TV detective series grew up with the arrival of “Peter Gunn,” launching the careers of both Blake and Mancini, the latter winning an Emmy Award and two Grammys for his “Peter Gunn Theme” and score. Mancini would go on to furnish the music for many Edwards feature films including “Breakfast at Tiffany's” and the “Pink Panther” series.
“Peter Gunn” lasted only three seasons, but its standard-raising effect on the quality of production, writing and especially music in filmed episodic television has remained everlasting. And it's a classic that still packs a punch today.
Bonus feature: A CD of Mancini's music from “Peter Gunn.”
— Gene Triplett