Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Sorry these updates are taking rather longer than expected. You know how it is - crims to catch, beats to patrol, groovy threads to wear, things to see and people to do.

Moving on to the latest in our series of rather silly synopses of Funky Squad radio stories:


Funky Squad find themselves on Primitive Island, private hideaway of the mysterious Sir Pith-Helmet. It's pure luxury of the old school colonial variety.

Pith-Helmet: More drinks? Hor d'oerves? Jungle noises turned down?

The squaddies are here to investigate the disappearance of visitors to Primitive Island. It turns out Pith-Helmet is looking for human scalps to add to the lions, tigers, grizzly bears and cuddly ickle rabbits that line his walls, and has taken to hunting down homo sapiens - and Funky Squad is next on his list of trophies.

Cassie: That's one mean cat
Grant: But if we concentrate, we can beat him.
Stix: Would you pass the cereal?

Dawn approaches in a cacophony of bird noises, and the hunt is on.

Pith-Helmet: Perkins! Sound the horn!
SFX: Beep! Beep!
Pith-Helmet: Not the Barina, the hunting horn!

Funky Squad have an hour to make it across the island to a boat and make their escape before Pith-Helmet wipes out the lot of them (as you do).

Cassie: If only someone would say something that contains a word to trigger an escape plan!
Stix: Look at that beautifully camouflaged butterfly?
Cassie: That's it!
Stix: Butterfly!
Cassie: No, camouflage.

And very soon...

Pith-Helmet: Hmmm, nothing here except four trees with a vaguely human shape...

Despite the squaddies' alledged brilliance, PH tracks them down, and only a last-minute deception involving a handful of fast-acting poisonous berries avoids a messy end.

This story later turned up in comic form in the Funky Squad annual.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This Funky Squad story from the Triple M Breakfast days later resurfaced as a comic in the Funky Squad Annual. Which I haven't written about. Yet. And might not. Let's see how I feel once I've got through the radio stories.

Framed begins with the end of the case - the bank robbers are busted and Stix gleefully informs them that "the only loot you'll be getting is the musical instrument they teach you in jail!"

While Stix explains the obscure link between medieval instruments and money laundering, the crooks make their escape. They report their failure to their boss, a Mr Poncycrim of Swish Crims Inc, who must be very, very rich and a villian of noble birth since he has a posh accent and an expensive sounding teaspoon sound effect.

Goon: We only just managed to escape while one of them explained a metaphor, Sir!
Boss: Silence! Enough talk.
Goon: But if we don't talk, it gets kinda boring.
Boss: Oh, I don't know. There's always the teaspoon noise.

Jangling aside, Poncycrim crafts a masterly plan to bring down Funky Squad - a couple of loud-speaking goons head to a downtown burger joint, and soon the squaddies think they've got a tip-off about a bank job when all they ordered was a megaburger and fries. But they get a set-up, a dead body, and the Chief and some squares bursting in at the most improbable moment. Funky Squad flees the scene of the crime, in a squeal of rubber.

Chief: Constable Straightlace, Sargeant Square! Go after them at a slightly lesser speed!
SFX: screech!
Cassie: Grant! We can't go on like this!
SFX: screech!
Grant: Why not?
SFX: screech!
Cassie: I don't think the tyres will hold out!

The squaddies head to Poncycrim's stately home to clear their names, braving fences, armed guards, and slavering vicious man-eating labradors.

Cassie: you forget, before joining Funky Squad Grant was a green beret...
Stix: No, Grant OWNED a green beret.
Guard: Hey! You in the green beanie!

Having been spotted, they're dragged inside to darken Poncycrim's doors. And just as all looks black, the Chief makes another inprobable appearance.

Chief: Poncho told me everything.
Stix: But he can't talk.
Chief: He wrote it down.
Stix: He's illiterate.
Chief: It was sign language.
Stix: He's terrible at charades.
Cassie: Stix, shut up!

And I will too, until I drop in again with the next episode in approximately alphabetical order, Hunted.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dance of Death

Grant dismisses ballet as "a bunch of straights in tights bouncing to the beat of square music", but he changes his tune when Russian ballerina Anastasia Primadonov wants to defect. In fact, the tough-as cop falls for the flouncy thing with the help of some subtle audio effects:

Grant (apparently thinking): Must not let on I'm falling in love with her...
Ana (apparently thinking): Must not let on I'm falling in love with him...
Stix (apparently doesn't think at all): Must not let on everyone's voice has gone all echoey!

Heading to the noble dance, Funky Squad sneak backstage - after waking up Poncho and Stix, who've nodded off from the excitement of it all - and meet the Iron Curtain Dance Company, whose sinister minder is keeping the dancers on a short leash:

"Anastasia, look at you. Lipstick, decadent nail polish, mascara... How many times must I tell you - leave my makeup alone!"

But Grant is apparently prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice: being seen in public in leotards.

Theatre PA: Ladies and gentlemen, due to an implausible plot development, Vladimir Smirnoff will be replaced tonight by Grant Funkyscoff.

The ruse works, and Anastasia makes her escape with the squaddies in the Funky Buggy, which isn't a Lada. But there's one broken down ahead of them.

Motorist whose voice bears a strange resemblance to that of the sinister Iron Curtain minder: Excuse me comrade, er, cobber, could you a hand be giving to push my Lada vehicle?"

Funky Squad sees through the ruse - eventually - and after a bout of fisticuffs and Stix taking a bullet in the beachball, they make for a conventiently located embassy over the road. Anastasia takes a moment to pose meaningfully on the doorstep, and gets her brains blown out.

Which is probably just as well, since we wouldn't want her and Cassie getting all catty over Grant's affections. Especially since they were both played by Jane Kennedy.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Cry For Help

Funky Squad's been through several incarnations, from TV Show to slightly unsettling book, but it started life as a radio serial on Triple M, when the D-Gen team was taking care of Breakfast on that station. Each Funky Squad radio story is made up of five episodes (Monday to Friday) of approximately two minutes each. There's more info on this era over in Wikipedia, if you follow the link to the right.

Since I don't know broadcast dates for these stories, I'm blogging them in approximately alphabetical order, starting with:

A Cry For Help

Grant (Rob Sitch), Cassie (Jane Kennedy), Stix (Santo Cilauro) and Poncho (nobody in particular) are cruising a rough neighbourhood in the funky buggy.

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Grant: You know what the murder rate is here?
Stix: One per episode.

A hobo is found dead, and despite reluctance from Deputy Dismissive, Funky Squad are on the case. A string of unintelligibly funky talk from their hip to the groove street contact provides some less than helpful leads.

Stix: What did you make of that?
Grant: Nothing, as usual
Cassie: Man, we've really gotta learn jive talk.

A tip off from Father O'Cool of St Moderns leads them to the classically troubled youth Tito Spanola and his distressed mother.

"Twenty years een zish country and all I haff to show for eet ez zish accent! (sob sob sob) I'm sorry... I get like this when i have only one scene..."

They seem to be getting somewhere when The Chief (Tom Gleisner) puts his irrationally conservative foot down.

Chief: I'm not having you stand there and set up this episode any more Funky Squad. The case is closed, and tomorrow I want you to report for... Useless Duty!"

Funky Squad head off to talk to more incomprehensibly hip street types, but there investigations are curtailed when the Chief inexplicably turns up and slams some car doors at them. Over the banging, they learn that a big shipment of drugs is coming in tonight from Porto Hashish, that young Tito is the lookout and the dead hobo knew too much, hence his ending up with a chalk outline. Funky Squad are back in business.

Grant: Carlos! We have your warehouse completely surrounded!
Carlos: What do you want?
Grant: Throw your weapons out the window!
Carlos: But there are no windows.
Grant: In that case... we have the warehouse beside yours completely surrounded!

This episode later morphed into The Wrong Side of the Tracks when Funky Squad went televisual.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Coming soon: Funky Squad the radio show

There have been exciting recent developments in FunkySquadLand!

Amazingly, a vast quantity of the Funky Squad radio series as broadcast on Triple M, which I'd written off as lost and unobtainable, has just fallen into my lap with absolutely no effort on my part at all. It was one of those remarkable 'kindness of strangers' moments that suggest the world isn't entirely screwed after all.

So, with a bit of luck and a following wind (and a quick call to BigPond to explain why my download cap's writhing in its death throes) I'll pop some synopses, quotes, and fun stuff online soon.

In the meantime, if you've just wandered in through Google or Wikipedia or somewhere, hello! Use the posts-by-date menu thingo over there to the right to browse through synopses and screencaps for the seven episodes of the TV version of Funky Squad.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Episode 7: The Carnival is Over

The latest case is closed, the Chief is happy and the uniformed goons aren’t grumbling too much for once, so it’s time for...

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Funky Squad on vacation.

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But Cassie gets a creepy present - a toy clown with a knife through its head - just as they’re leaving.

A bit of stock footage soon sets the beachside scene. Ponch obligingly slathers Cassie with that Brown and Beautiful muck fictitious actress Verity Svenson Hart was advertising last episode, while Stix braves bare-feet-on-hot-sand syndrome to fetch her a milkshake.

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Grant is surfing very convincingly when Poncho realises the blonde one’s in trouble.

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Grant’s under - his surfboard’s been tampered with - and when they get back to their towels, there’s a creepy message scrawled in the sand.

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They leave the beach... But the Mustang’s brakes are also on holiday...

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And the Squaddies nearly get a bit closer to the surf than they had in mind.

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When they pop the bonnet, they find Enjoy the Roller Coaster Ride scrawled underneath.

They go running back to the Chief, and some fiddling with the new computer reveals that Elliot Green, sent down by Funky Squad three years ago for sabotaging a fun park, has just been released.

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It’s also their chance to do The Pose this week, since we missed it at the start of the episode.

Stix and Grant head to the park in question, to find it’s deserted except for a comedy drunk with financially inspired amnesia.

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The former owner of the fun park now runs a scungy cafe from a caravan - the Cafe De Wheels - conveniently situated over the road.

Meanwhile, Cassie and Poncho head to Elliot’s Mum’s house.

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She’s the weirdest thing this side of the Bates Motel, but says she hasn’t seen her lad since his release. Which doesn’t explain why he’s sitting in the lounge room.

The Funky Squad eat out at a very Italian pizza and pasta place, where the proprietess tries to matchmake Cassie to her son, oblivious to the big sickening cow-eyes Cassie and Grant are exchanging.

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Cassie heads home... And re-enacts the Psycho shower scene. Fortunately, it ends with a phone call rather than a knifing. But there’s a mechanical laughing clown on the other end of the line and a message scrawled on the mirror.

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Deciding there’s safety in numbers, and because it’s time for some men-being-useless domestic humour, they all crash at Cassie’s pad.

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They get a phone call from Freddy the diner man, to say Elliot’s arrived and wants his old job back. But when Freddy turns around, the young nutter’s gone again.

A cut-and-paste letter arrives, and the postcode matches the mother’s place. The burst in and haul Elliot off to the cop shop, but another mechanical clown phone call while they’re interrogating him would seem to rule him out as the mystery troublemaker.

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(Let’s not ask why Poncho was the one who picked up the phone.)

Freddy the diner man is now suspect du jour. They go to see him in the middle of the night - as you do - but the cafe is deserted.

They check out the abandoned, silent, dark fun park...

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Which suddenly comes to life. It seems Freddy IS here... Somewhere...

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The Here I Am message in Cassie’s flat was written on the mirror, which leads the squaddies to a suitable season finale in the Hall of Mirrors...

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But it’s not Freddy they find...

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The last of our ads sees the return of RC cola, and a small crowd go ape over - well, get mildly interested in - the Gemini Sandpiper. It’s time for Joey Alvarez - Santo’s FunkySquadLand counterpart - to get publically minded with a drink driving warning, although his ‘five drinks in the first hour and three in the next’ suggestion hints at an inherent weakness with either FunkySquadLand’s DUI laws, or its liquor.

Quotes of Note

Warden on Elliot’s release: That guy didn’t belong in the slammer... He belonged in the loony bin!

Random criminal: I’m entitled to one phone call!
Grant: Why don’t you call the warden, tell him you’re coming.

Grant: OK folks, listen up. We’re cutting loose beachside for a week. Any messages, file them under ‘s’ for surf’s up!

Cassie: Maria, come on - this is the seventies. Some girls don’t get married until they’re at least 25.

Cassie: I’m starting to dig this time off scene. No chief, no crims..
Stix: And the only paperwork we’ll be doing is taking the wrapper off our icecreams!

Well thrillseekers, that's where we leave it for now. I hope you've enjoyed reading this (assuming anyone ever does) as much as I've enjoyed putting it together.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Episode 6: Diamonds Are A Cat's Best Friend

An acrobatic cat burglar makes free with a pricey diamond, leaving a pawprint-emblazoned calling card.

Time to call in...

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Funky Squad.

Grant and Cassie check out the scene of the robbery - the tenth diamond burglary in the last month..

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While Poncho and Stix get some expert information on diamonds...

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There IS an obscure pattern visible to the trained eye - the first stone was four carats, the next five, the next six...

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Some skylarking back at Funky HQ jogs Cassie’s memory... The glove marks on the window are from fencing gloves. SuperCassie, on top of a science degree and art school, also went to finishing school where she learned fencing.

They head to fencing school, where they find a guy in a wheelchair and a shifty lump of a law student.

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Time for a stakeout, outside the site of the only local 14-carat diamond. And it’s time for Cassie to be prodded with the character development stick.

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I grew up in a neighbourhood just like this. Sure, we had all the mod cons, but it came at a price. My parents were divorced. Daddy was too wrapped up in his business deals, and Mummy was too wrapped up in a bottle of gin. I learned the hard way - money’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Then, a dozen cop cars turn up, sirens blazing, to break the mood and scare the cat away. Stix puruses him across the rooftops, getting red tar all over his boots in the process, but the cat gets away.

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Mr dodgy law student has an alibi - he was in a fencing tournament that night and won a medal, so obviously wasn’t scaling walls afer all. But the instructor - the guy in the wheelchair - has red tar all over the soles of his shoes....

There’s only one 15 carat diamond in the world - The Abyssinian Queen - and it’s conveniently on show tonight at the Plaza hotel.

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(And don't they all scrub up nicely? I think Ponch is channelling Jon Pertwee, though...)

The coach is there, wheelchair and all, and Stix keeps an eye on him while fighting off the advances of a woman with some large... jewels... of her own.

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Cassie's fencing skills stand her in good stead for a stand-off with the coach, complete with much dramatic sword-tip-removal of necklace and tie.

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In the ads this week Grant Paige, film stuntman, flogs yet another brand of cola, this time in a press-stud can. Someone who might be that ‘Mike’ guy from a few episodes ago is back touting some sort of hammond organ, Verity Svensen-Hart flogs 'Brown and Beautiful’ tanning muck and dyna-mints blow some beachgoers minds’ with the help of some unsublte camera-wobble.

Quotes of note

Stix: My head’s spinning... All those diamonds and carats - I thought only rabbits ate carrots!

Grant: If it’s a cat burglar we’re after... I think we’ve found our puss.

Verity flogs Brown and Beautiful tanning lotion: With a combination of coconut oil and baby oil which allows you to burn easily - which as we all know, is the basis of a healthy tan...
Voice over: Also available, Burnt and Beautiful after-sun cream.

Stix: We just about had that cat in cuffs when you chipped in the straight laces and blew our cover.

The squaddies waltz into a swish do, where everyone’s dripping with furs and jewels.
Stix: Last time I saw this much fur... Was at the zoo!

Grant: So our cat burglar’s in a cell doing 20 plus
Stix: Let’s hope there’s plenty of kitty litter!

Would the real SFD 497 please rev up?

Here's a very strange piece of trivia.

The numberplate of Funky Squad's red Mustang convertible, as seen parked outside the fencing school, is SFD 497. (The convertible’s top alternates between beige and black throughout the series, but we’ll let that slide for now.)

The numberplate of the car in the garage which we see while the cat is breaking into the 14 carat house is SFD 497.

The numberplate of the marked police car complete with flashing lights which arrives a few moments later is SFD 497.

I have no idea what it all means, and I'm not entirely convinced it's not some kind of elaborate in-joke. After all, how do you accidentally have the same plates on three different vehicles in the same scene?

Next time we look at the final episode, appropriately called The Carnival Is Over.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Episode 5: The Wrong Side of the Tracks

A gang leader is bashed and left near-dead, and a rival gang is implicated. Time to call in...

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Funky Squad... because the Chief wants them to solve an unrelated burglary. Chief’s reluctant, but the squaddies argue themselves 48 hours to solve the gangland bashing before they have to give up and move on to some piddling thefts in the better-heeled part of town.

Meanwhile property developer Miles Stricklen cons an immigrant couple out of their shop for a pittance, because it’s in a violent gang-controlled area. How very convenient. Or maybe not, since Stricklen’s goon was behind the thumping in the first place.

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A bit of smooth talking from Grant gets them past a ditzy nurse to see the injured Johnny in intensive care. The matron chucks them out, but they get a one-word clue - "eagles" - out of the lad first.

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Cassie and Stix head to Johnny’s place to see his Mum and brother.

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Stix has a deep and meaningful moment with the kid.

I didn’t talk to cops all that much either when I was your age. Back then, I was in a gang. I ain’t jiving you, Titch, I grew up in a neighbourhood just like this. Used to sit on a fire escape just like you, sit back and stare up at them stars. I could name them all. I dreamed of one day leaving this place, being as free as a star. Then something happened. My best buddy took a switchblade in the back. Then I wised up...

Cassie is obviously moved.

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Tito’s young, and convinced Johnny will live forever. But he doesn’t, because the squaddies discover Stricklen’s goon sneaks into the hospital that night and finishes the job.

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The squaddies take the red Mustang for a spin, following up Johnny’s clue by looking for a gang called the Eagles.

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There isn’t one - but there is Eagle Corporation, Miles Stricklen’s property development company.

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There’s a rumble under the bridge... The Skulls think the Bandits started it, and the Bandits think the Skulls started it. We now know Stricklen started it, but try telling that to an unruly mob.

Stix intervenes and reveals himself as a former gang leader. I quit when I realised I was fighting for nothing. Tearing the streets apart - my own turf, my own home...

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He singlehandedly talks the two sides into a truce. As you do.

The squaddies head over the tracks to confront Stricklen. No warrant, no firm evidence... but they do have two gang’s worth of bloodthirsty hoods in tow, ready to beat the seedy git to a pulp if he doesn't come quietly - an unorthodox if effective way to secure a confession.

In the ads this week we get yet more cola - Schweppes Export this time - while a woman with a boxy Tarago encourages other ladies who want a new car to "get your husband to talk to Neil Neilson" and some psychedelic camera effects are enlisted in a desparate (and failed) attempt to make ugly harry-highpants jeans sexy.

Quotes of Note

Johnny: Who dies and makes you king?

Random witness type dude: Mystery man was a honky hombre two clicks off the six in mighty flash threads.
(The police are baffled)
Grant: Take a letter, Maria - Suspect was male, caucasian, six foot two and well dressed.

Grant: Some fatcat’s colour TV goes missing, you put out an APB... Meanwhile the kids are doing it hard down ghettoside. Where’s their justice?

Grant and Poncho give up trying to talk to Johnny in hospital and go to leave. Once their backs are turned...
Johnny: Eagles
Grant (to Poncho): Was that you?
Poncho gives Grant a particularly silly look and shakes his head

Now, about those burglaries Funky Squad didn't get around to investigating... more on those next time, with Diamonds Are A Cat's Best Friends.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Episode 4: A Shot in the Dark

Owing money to a drug dealer is a good way to wind up on a slab... But how do you pin the wrap on the big boss - and his henchman who's already behind bars?

A young bloke unwise enough to take a loan from a drug dealer is shot dead in an alleyway, unfortunately witnessed by his girlfriend. Time to call in...

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Funky Squad.

A fortuitous phone call puts them on the scent of a Viktor Ramirez - and with a name like that, you know he's going to be a bad guy. The now-usual split-up takes place, and Grant and Cassie darken the doors of Ramirez and his bunny-girls....

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Like Ericson from episode 2, Ramirez is one of these upper-class businessman philanthropist dodgy brother types. He's also quite completely and delightfully mad.

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And he has a pet henchman called Driscoll. Now don't laugh - I could never get a decent fitting jacket in an op-shop, either.

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While Grant and Cassie admire Ramirez' flash pad, Stix and Poncho interrogate a dinkum bogan sheila who fills them in on the dead boy, his girlfriend Vanessa, and the horrors of regrowth following a dodgy dye-job.

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They congregate at Vanessa’s place, wearing their sympathetic faces.

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Vanessa has a delightfully camp comic-relief flatmate, but other than that is no help at all. Funky Squad re-group back at HQ, and relax with some cutting-edge computer games...

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The computer also informs them that a certain V Ramirez is a silent partner in Fantasia nightclub, where Vanessa worked and shook her groove thang the night her boyfriend died. But the relevation comes too late for Vanessa, who’s been strangled by Driscoll, the erstwhile gentleman in the ill-fitting jacket. Who also rubbed out the boy, in case you hadn’t figured it out by now.

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Poncho once again gets the weekly medal for Services to the Advancement of the Plot by figuring out Vanessa’s cryptic comment about the killer "already being behind bars" didn’t refer to jail time, but pub service.

They head back to Fantasia, this time during opening hours...

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Which leads to a gunfight between Grant and Driscoll - who works behind the bar.

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At this stage, Stix and Cassie are upstairs snooping in Ramirez’ office - although Cassie's high tech method of identifying cocaine by sticking her finger in the bag and then licking it is probably not standard police procedure. Poncho is temporarily out of action after Driscoll threw a drink in his eyes. Fortunately it did no lasting damage, or the poor man would be really screwed, and he comes good in time to bail out Grant.

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But this time, it's Cassie and Stix in trouble...

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Poncho is a very good marksman - last week he shot out the tyres of an erratically moving vehicle, and in this episode he neatly kills Ramirez, visible in silhouette through a second-floor window, with a handheld pistol.

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In the ads this week, that bloke done up as the American flag is back flogging more patriotic personal care items with Uncle Sam antiperspirant - all the weirder because the lyric In Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth, implies it’s an Australian ad despite being crammed with eagles, stars, stripes, and other Yankee kitch. Another Aussie ad is Export Cola, before a gent called Mike who was obviously so famous at the time he didn’t feel the need to introduce himself touts an electronics shop so up to date it sells ‘tapes and cartridges’ as well as records and hammond organs.

Quotes of Note

Cop: I take it you were on duty last night?
Cassie: Pest control, pal.
Cop gives a lank look
Cassie: Busting drug pushers
Stix: Exterminating rats as they crawl out of the sewer... A little hard to do from behind a desk.

Grant, led into room by bunnies in leopardprint: Mmmm... I like your taste in butlers
Ramirez: and I like your taste in uniform

Vanessa’s male flatmate Ashley opens the door to Funky Squad: I didn’t know policemen came in such attractive packages
Cassie: Can the come-on, bud
Flatmate: I wasn’t talking to you.

Cassie: Vanessa, we’re gonna split now, but we’d like to come back later and rap some more - you’d be cool with that?

Ashley strokes Stix’ hair: Nice full body... I could do wonders with that.

What might have been

Here on planet Earth, Funky Squad lasted seven episodes and was made in 1995. However, in the alternative dimension where this was a real 70s cop show made in the American state of Australia, it was obviously quite a big hit. The stars all get credts at the front of the show, which implies they're names we should be familiar with, and we've already seen Blair Steele endorsing hairspray - so it's not unlikely that within FunkySquadLand the show ran for years and there are lots of episodes that never made it to Earth.

We get a few clues what these episodes might have looked like from the front credit sequence. Like the first season of The Goodies (you knew there was going to be a Goods reference in here sooner or later, didn't you?) there's a fair bit of specially-shot material in the titles sequence that looks like it could have come from the show itself, but actually doesn't.

So... we missed out on seeing such gems as Funky Squad goes West...

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Grant goes undercover someplace girls dig pink shirts...

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Cassie proves she's not at all jealous, really, oh no...

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(Excuse me, Miss Svensen-Hart, your wig is wilting. Please see makeup.)

And Stix and Poncho go boxing.

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There really is no way to follow a discussion so silly, so I'll be off until Episode 5.