Aug 5, 2016

Katts and Dog

The Canadian kid-oriented series that aired in the U.S. during the late 1980s came in all varieties. You Can't Do That on Television was sketch-comedy, Degrassi Junior High teen angst, and Katts and Dog (1988-93) teen adventure.

Airing as Rin Tin Tin, K-9 Cop in the United States and Rin Tin Tin Junior in France, it starred the cute blond Jesse Collins as Officer Hank Katts, who worked with a German shepherd named Rudy or Rinty (Rudolph Von Holstein III).  He lived with his orphaned nephew, slim blond Stevie (12-year old Andrew Bednarski), whose job was to ignore orders like "stay here where it's safe," snoop around on his own, get captured by the bad guys, and require a nick of time rescue.

He required nick of time rescues in most episodes.  Sometimes he and Hank required rescue together.

Hank and Stevie behaved nothing like foster father and adopted son.  Instead, their relationship reflected the superhero-sidekicks of the 1940s.  The two were inseparable, and engaged in activities that elsewhere would be reserved for romantic partners: going to dinners and movies, going on vacations.  They shared an emotional intimacy and an easy physicality that was rare in the cop-kid bond.

The producers knew that the main audience consisted of preteens and young teenagers, so they obligingly gave Stevie the best lines.  And, as the actor turned 15 and 16 and began to muscle up, the lion's share of close-ups.

Not only close-ups of his face; Steve's increasingly buffed chest, arms, shoulders, and below-the-belt were subjected to detailed scrutiny.  There were no shirtless or semi-nude shots, but gay teens had almost as much to look at as in the old Bomba the Jungle boy movies.

After Katts, Jesse Collins continued to act on Canadian television.  He also does voice work, directs, and sings. 

Andrew Bednarski studied Egyptology in college, and is now the Assistant Director of the American Research Center in Cairo.  He has published a book on the image of Egypt in the 19th century and several research papers, including one on hysteria among women in ancient Egypt.