Thursday, February 14, 2008

Send in the hounds

Look... me and the McDonald's people got this little misunderstanding. See, they're McDonald's... I'm McDowell's. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds. - Cleo McDowell

Well, as any regular watcher of crime dramas will be able to tell you, they do things differently in Austria. Instead of solving crimes by the usual combination of careful fact checking by dedicated staff, backed up by the latest scientific methodology, they are usually solved by a handsome and dashing midde-aged detective who owns a dog, sometimes backed up by other quirky underlings, including a suspicious looking character who hangs around illegal car clubs, a chubby dude who drives fast, and a glamorous woman who is often underestimated. Yes, I'm referring to the show Kommissar Rex, and anyone who tells me that it doesn't give a realistic overview of crime solving in modern-day Austria is a cad and a liar.

Lately, I've come into possession of hard scientific evidence of a similar system of crime-solving in Italy: a boxed-edition of Turbo, an Italian production about a crime-solving border collie - who, um, solves crimes. I can't think of anything else offhand that's particularly good about this production, but, hey. Dog, solves crimes. Works for me.

To be fair, the first episode has an awesome opening. Turbo and his owner, Luca Sepe, are driving into the countryside on a fishing holiday, when they get called back to the scene of a crime: an evil clown and his accomplice bearing guns are holding up a department store. Sepe catches the clown but is just about to get gunned down by the clown's accomplice, when Turbo impressively rushes forward and hurls himself snarling at the dude, only to get shot himself. Cut to the sound of an ambulance siren (okay, it's probably the police car siren) and an image of Sepe holding Turbo in the seat as they draw into a hospital (all right, it's probably the vet, but be quiet! The dog's in danger here!) Then we cut to Turbo lying in bed, hooked up to some beeping machine, breathing into a respirator, and Sepe leaning over him, whispering, "I love you, Turbo!" *Sniff*. Now, that would melt a heart of stone, that would.

The Turbo shows ran on Italian television in about 2000-2001, and are actually telemovies. This means they're a bit long and in the middle start to go off in all sorts of directions, usually unrelated to dogs or criminals. Being an Italian telemovie, on the other hand, it has a lot of Italians pashing, and even, at one point, a love interest for Turbo. Entertainingly, detective Sepe gets romantically intertwined with the woman whose case he is investigating. (The movie actually ends with a shot of him pashing her in her hospital bed, while Turbo wriggles in between the two and barks at the camera.)


- Shouty knife-wielding psychopath: check.

- Heroic and hilarious first scene which begins with an angry clown and ends with a dog in a hospital bed: check.

- Gallopy dog shots down dark alleyways: check, but nowhere near enough.

- Pashing Italians: check.

- Lines like: "These canned hams will take your mind off that other dog for the moment.": check.

- Corny 1980's style plastic face mask worn by the villain: check.

- Dog jumping through a glass window to corner a villain and thereby save the day: check.

This show is an obvious rip-off of Kommissar Rex, which ran all over Europe from 1994 to 2004. Since the dawn of time, however, Man has longed to see evil European villains chased down shady alleways by righteous Hounds of Justice. However unoriginally, Turbo fulfills this longing. For that, I give this boxed-set DVD edition a hearty four and a half paw-prints out of five.


Tim said...

Turbo sounds awesome. It's high time Australia had its own crime-solving dog. I'm picturing something like Blue Heelers only with actual blue heelers.

On a related note, remember The Littlest Hobo? The title sequence and theme song almost brings a tear to my eye, it seems so innocent and sweet. Except for the bit where the littlest hobo is shown running through the grass holding an enormous gun.

TimT said...

Gun-bearing German shepherds! Watch out, you Canadian villains, the Hobo is armed and dangerous! I know the name of that show, but never saw it on the telly - if it did get an Australian run, it probably wasn't on one of the channels we got in Balranald (we had only a two/three channel reception out there.)

An Australian Turbo or Rex would certainly be welcome. Maybe this dog could star...

still searching for Wagner (behind the lounge perhaps?) said...

I thought at first that you were talking about something to do with Malcom McDowell, upon whom a friend of mine has a quite unaccountable crush.

"Turbo" certainly sounds promising, although German Shepherds are such maginificent creatures that it might still feel like a substitute (I am a large dog person). Personally, I have been watching "Hornblower" and delighting afresh in each occurence of "Damn your impudence, Sir!", particularly if it is followed by a demand for "satisfaction".

TimT said...

Damning someone's impudence is imprudent, I find. You should give Turbo a go, he's a border collie and quite large. It wouldn't feel the same if the crime show featured a chihuahua or fox terrier snapping at the heels of the ubercriminals. I don't think even I could suspend my disbelief for that one.

Well, okay, maybe if it starred Snowy...

proserpine said...

I think that having my impudence damned would give me a special thrill. I would possibly even consider paying for the privilege. Of course, one has to speak quickly and raise one's intonation to the point of shouting by the end of the sentence, in full sea-dog style.

As for terriers, some of them can be very bold indeed. A stately terrier of this variety once permitted me to share his digs, along with some other human-type creatures, and his generosity certainly expanded my view of the world of terriers. My supervisor had one of these, which I was required to walk on a number of occasions (we didn't get to picking up dry cleaning, never fear) and I can assure you that the little dear had my measure very early on in the peace.

If you're in need of a TinTin and Snowy fix, I have some photos of a shop window in Paris which may interest you...

TimT said...

Paraphrasing Wilde, I guess you could say that watching Captain Hornblower is like the 'Imprudent in search of the impudent'?

Ha ha ha ha. Oh, I see...

eyrie said...

So long as one keeps one's imprudence impudent and does not stray into any imprudent impudence, one stands a fair chance of maintaining an even course, say I! And huzzah too, for good measure!

Maria said...

I love Eddie Murphy's "McDowell's" send up of McDonald's, but do many know of the real life case of Anisha's?

Anisha's was an Indian curry house in Australia that used red and yellow as its trademark colours. Its logo was a red background with a gold A which looked like a golden arch (single) with a small bar in the middle to make the capital A, and the slogan "You'll love it". McDonald's claimed it looked too similar to the golden arches, and "you'll love it" was too similar to "I'm lovin it" and thus people who liked McDonald's fare could be tricked into buying Anisha's curry puffs. The owner of Anisha's said it wasn't like that at all, and reda nd yellow were traditional Indian colours,a nd he picked the name Anisha's because it was his daughter's name, used an A for Anisha's in the logo for obvious reasons, and Indian fare was very different from McDonald's burgers so it wasn't a problem ... Still caused lots of problems considering the kind of stomping Macca's can do and I'm not sure if the little family restaurant Anisha's still is around, or if it is, still retains its logo.

TimT said...

I could totally go a Curry Puffs Anisha-happy meal.

TimT said...

Though I don't see why they should pick on Anisha's, it's like having a go at the Kumar family! Hungry Jacks and Burger Kings are total McDonald's rip offs, AND they don't sell curry puffs. Scoundrels!

Maria said...

I think it's the curry puffs that finally got to 'em TimT.

I'd totally go a curry puff meal over a Big Mac. I wonder if you can get a little toy?

TimT said...

Toy Ganeshas, perhaps? Or would that be blasphemous? You could give out a different member of the Hindu pantheon with every meal. Kids would get into fights over them.

"What have you got this time?"

"Hanuman the monkey God!"

"Awwwww, I want him! Hey, I'll trade you a Kali for Hanuman."


"No, go on! He's got eight arms!"


"I'll throw in a Vishnu as well."

"Wow! Vishnu, the manifestation of all Gods in one! Totally cool!"

"That's all right, I've got two of them. You can have this one, I don't want it anymore."

"Well, all right then. Here you go."

"Yay! My Hanuman kicks your Ganesha's arse any day!"

"Does NOT!!!!!"

etc, etc

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