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12/3/21 | 46/52

We've had some amazing warm days and that means getting out and trying to cram in as much skating as possible before the snow starts sticking. Throw on your ankle brace and head out to make the most of this beautiful day.

there must have been some magic

feathered hair and casual slacks

Lately I’ve been rewatching the only season of Clearwater while I work on this year’s holiday package and I gotta say, it’s some of the best television ever made.  Filmed in 1975, Clearwater starred Gene Hackman and Charles Bronson as Clancy Emery and Chuck Donal, a pair of private investigators. A few of the things that elevate this show into an American masterpiece:

Setting - Florida looks hot, humid and sticky. Everyone’s skin has a light layer of sweat causing their deeply tanned skin to glisten. Each episode contains several overhead helicopter shots of them driving over long bridges in a boxy, angular, American automobile while twinkly light jazz plays. Occasionally you can hear a xylophone mixed in with the low saxophone, bouncy organ and cascading piano. Their office is messy with papers and wooden desks you can rest your feet on while you read a newspaper. Typing is done on typewriters in a single finger, hunt and peck, click clack, style. Ashtrays are full and visible throughout.

Stunts – The Florida settings allows the introduction of seaplanes, fan boats, cigar boats and the occasional motorcycle. There are car chases through warehouses stacked to the ceiling with water filled garbage cans. Fist fights are a staple. These are filmed up close and performed slowly.

Casting – Constantly reminding the viewer that Bronson’s character is from Boston and Hackman is from Tennessee is an interesting choice considering both actors do not attempt an accent or try to change their speech patterns at all. Putting that small nitpick aside it’s impossible to deny the electric chemistry they have together. Hackman uses his signature laugh to lighten the mood and to rachet up the tension. Bronson commands the screen, delivering his lines flatly and forcefully.  Laurie Zimmer is outstanding as their secretary who, in addition to being the real brains of the operation, was married to both of their characters at different times. Also worth mentioning is Nathaniel Thomas Wilson’s three episode arc as informant and hustler, Horace Steely.

Writing – Clearwater never backed down from covering what was happening in the real world. Chuck and Clancy tangle with serial killers, grass smugglers, prostitution rings, teenage street gangs, and an arch villain named “the Watchmaker” who runs the Zodiac Syndicate. The tone of the show in the pilot is definitely more fun loving and jokey but as the series progresses the writers continued to evolve the show. Donal’s stops at off track betting parlors and his pay phone bets on jai lai devolve into rock bottom gambling in the final episode, Debts Come Due, which shows him at a diner with a cup of coffee, the table covered in losing scratch off lottery tickets. Emery’s secret brain tumor begins to cause confusion and memory problems. In the beginning both men’s many divorces are played up to highlight their smooth guy Romeo reputation. As the show moves along they find that they are both struggling with crippling loneliness in their respective single bulb apartments. In the end their only real companionship comes from arguing and reasoning out investigations together.

Unfortunately clashes between the networks, the cast, and series creator, Ron Swultting, prevented a second season. There were rumors of a spinoff movie  but it never came to be. If you can manage to track down the first season I can’t recommend it enough. To me this is a perfect television show.  

Friend of the Week

This week's friend is the mythical mischief maker Tomte also known as Nisse or Tonttu. I'm not sure how Tomte made his way into our life. It may have been a gift from our neighbor when we moved into our heavily Swedish neighborhood. There's also the possibility that he was hiding in our walls and decided to make himself visible around the holidays. I don't know all of the traditional myths and stories about his adventures but I do know there are several of him inhabiting our house. Every December we have a lot of fun moving him around to surprise each other. Medicine cabinet? Tomte! Purse? Tomte! I look up from the computer? Tomte staring me down! Hooray for the holidays and the season of Tomte spooking!

If you would like your best furry friend, most delicate butterfly or snuggliest animal associate to be featured email me 3 pictures of them and I will do my best to try and capture their essence.

If you ever miss an email or you see that it's Friday and no email has been delivered, you can always check out the archive link on the Serial Dispatch instagram. If you know anyone who might enjoy this weekly special delivery send them in that direction so they can see if they'd like to join the list. Let's make it happen.

Solid,
Tim

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