Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Journey of a Thousand Miles


I don't blog.

I mean, I read blogs. I spend a lot of time on the internet, personally and professionally. But I don't blog myself. I'm starting this blog completely on impulse. Why? Kung Fu.

Kung Fu, the TV show. How do I begin to explain? I'm a man in his mid-30s and a father of two, a delightful three-year-old and an infant, eight weeks. I have been a lifelong fan of kung fu movies, of the martial arts, comics, literature, film, art, etc. I even practice martial arts myself, kendo.

I loved the show Kung Fu as a kid. You all know what I am talking about - Kung Fu, starring David Carradine as the man, Kwai Chang Caine, who comes walking out of the east into the old west, meeting people, having adventures, getting involved in micro-dramas, kicking ass when he has to, spiritually and mentally as well as physically. Always with a flashback to his old days at the Shaolin temple with Master Kan (Philip Ahn) and Master Po (Keye Luke). (Radames Pera played the young Caine in these flashbacks.)

Well, recently I borrowed the complete 3-season set of Kung Fu on DVD, all the episodes that aired from 1972 to 1975 when it ended. If you have an infant you know that you spend a lot of time with said infant sleeping on your chest. So my youngest son and I have been steadily making our way through all the episodes. Usually, this is after my oldest son has gone to sleep. Sometimes, it is at three or four or five in the morning, when my youngest can't sleep.

When I set about to watch this show, it was with great enthusiasm, but a distanced perspective. I had loved these shows as a kid but thought perhaps they wouldn't be as entertaining to me as an adult. Further, I figured that since the show came out in the 70s it'd probably be pretty hokey and uninformed - it was in part responsible for the "kung fu craze" that enchanted the U.S. at that time, which eventually blossomed into the full silliness of the late 70s and 80s - Sonny Chiba, Gymkata, Sho Kosugi ninja films - all enjoyable, to be sure, to the aficionado, but not always the highest caliber of entertainment, and certainly not as accessible to a broader audience. I mean, we're not talking Kurosawa's samurai movies here.

But when I started watching these shows, I was happily surprised. The show was not only as good as I remembered, it was BETTER. It was propelled by chiseled characterization, great writing, innovative film-making and mis en scene - it was so unique, so enjoyable, so insightful, not so much ahead of its time as, honestly, out of its time, because, and I may be wrong, but I think they're still not making TV as good as this today. (To tell the truth, I don't watch a lot of TV, although there's a lot I would watch if I had time.)

Anyway, the long and short of it is I have been enjoying these episodes so much - I'm maybe halfway through the first season - and have been reading a bit on the history of the show (including Herbie Pilato's The Book of Caine and Carradine's autobio, Endless Highway) that I have become increasingly interested in finding out more about how this show was made. I'm particularly interested in the writing and the cohesiveness of the writing, which I think probably has something to do with executive story consultant John Furia, and in the depth of each episode.

In clicking around the internet for its Kung Fu resources, I have found a few good ones, and I will link to them here (soon as I figure out how to make a blogroll), but none that satisfy me. That's not to take away from the other Kung Fu episode guides out there that I have found or not found. It's just that most writing about the show usually involves a plot summary and a few nuggets of wisdom from Masters Caine, Po and Kan. I think the show was so much more than that, and I'd like to discuss that, episode by episode, as time permits.

So that's my rambling introduction to this blog. What I hope to create out of it is:
  • A place where I can direct others to Kung Fu resources on the net
  • A place where I can go into greater depth about my feelings on the show, creating a companion episode guide in blog format
  • A place to encourage greater discussion of the show (either here in comments or a message board environment to be created later - if anyone knows of any, let me know)
And that's pretty much it. I'll close for now with one other caveat: as I said, I am a working, married father of two who also has hobbies; I may not be able to update this blog as often as I'd like. But I hope to do so dilligently and thoughtfully and I hope any readers I may attract will help me in creating this resource.

Now, as Caine might say, I have to be moving along.

9 Comments:

Anonymous jaynova said...

Hey, Charlie:

Why no write-up of the pilot?

7:53 PM  
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