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Banacek

This article is about a TV series. For the mentalist/entertainer, see Banachek.

Banacek (one of the rotating NBC Mystery Movie series) was a short-lived, light-hearted detective TV series starring George Peppard on NBC from 1972 to 1974. It alternated in its timeslot with several other shows, but it was the only one to last beyond its first season. It was later rebroadcast on A&E Network.

The show had a mixture of humor combined with rather intricate plots that never generated strong ratings. Despite this, the show was well received by critics, and was picked up for a third season. However, before the third season could start production, Peppard quit the show in order to prevent his ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley from receiving a larger percentage of his earnings as part of their divorce settlement.

Premise

Peppard played Thomas Banacek, a suave, Polish-American freelance investigator based in Boston, who solved seemingly impossible thefts (see locked room mystery). He then collected from the insurance companies 10% of the value of the insured property. Banacek's signature was quoting strangely worded, but curiously cogent "Polish" proverbs: "There's an old Polish proverb that says, if you're not sure that it's potato borscht, there could be orphans working in the mines", and "Just because the cat has her kittens in the oven doesn't make them biscuits" are two examples. Another recurring gag was for other characters to mispronounce his name, often (particularly in the case of rivals) deliberately; another gag was other characters asking Banacek if he is related to famous polish persons with the Banacek surname.

Also featured were Ralph Manza as Banacek's chauffeur Jay Drury, Murray Matheson as rare-bookstore owner and information source Felix Mulholland, and Christine Belford as Carlie Kirkland, Banacek's sometime-lover and always-rival.

Episodes

Pilot

  1. Banacek: Detour to Nowhere

Season one

  1. Let's Hear It For A Living Legend
  2. Project Phoenix
    • Banacek investigates the disappearance of a valuable prototype automobile.
  3. No Sign of the Cross
    • Banacek searches for a valuable church artifact that disappeared from a sealed box.
  4. A Million the Hard Way
    • A young Margot Kidder guest stars when a million dollars vanishes from a Las Vegas slot machine display.
  5. To Steal A King
    • Banacek searches for a missing coin collection.
  6. Ten Thousand Dollars A Page
    • A valuable book disappears from a highly secure room.
  7. The Greatest Collection of Them All
    • Penny Fuller guest stars. When a large charity art exhibit vanishes, Banacek is called in at his normal 10% fee.
  8. The Two Million Clams of Cap'n Jack
    • Jessica Walter guest stars. Plates used in the printing of stock certificates vanish.

Season two

  1. No Stone Unturned
  2. If Max Is So Smart, Why Doesn't He Tell Us Where He Is?
    • A huge medical computer vanishes from the secured building it had filled
  3. The Three Million Dollar Piracy
  4. The Vanishing Chalice
    • An ancient chalice disappears from a museum during the offical unveiling party
  5. Horse of A Slightly Different Color
    • A race horse disappears from a track, during an exercise run
  6. Rocket to Oblivion
    • A prototype rocket engine vanishes during a private showing
  7. Fly Me- If You Can Find Me
    • After an emergency landing at an abandoned desert airstrip, a charter airliner vanishes, leaving a dead member of the flight crew as the only trace
  8. Now You See Me, Now You Don't

DVD releases

On May 15, 2007, Banacek: The First Season was released in the US under the TV Guide Presents label by Arts Alliance America. All eight first season episodes, but not the series pilot, were included. Season 2 was released on January 22, 2008, and it includes the pilot episode. On September 30, 2008, Arts Alliance will release Banacek: The Complete Series, a 5-disc boxset featuring all 16 episodes of the series.

Cover Art DVD Name Episodes Release Date
Banacek: The First Season 8 May 15 2007
Banacek: The Second Season 8 January 22 2008
Banacek: The Complete Series 16 September 30 2008

Production

The episode titled "If Max Is So Smart, Why Doesn't He Tell Us Where He Is?" was shot on location at the California Institute of the Arts around the time the school first opened. "Ten Thousand Dollars A Page " was filmed at the Pasadena Art Museum, later known as the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art and now the Norton Simon Museum of Art.

A customized 1969 American Motors AMX was built for the second regular season episode. The car became known as the AMX-400 and it is now owned by an automobile collector. Other continuing cars in the series were a 1941 Packard 180 with a Victoria body by Howard "Dutch" Darrin (license plate number 178344) and a 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine (mobile telephone number KL 17811).

External links

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