Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Inexplicable Crimetown Review: Ethical Mobsters

The gold medal haircut [right].

From now on, I’m going to be discussing the contents of Crimetown episodes, and specifically, spoiling the episodes. So, if you still aren’t following along, I’d recommend catching up on the past episodes. They’re usually in 30 minute chunks, and I highly recommend them!

The sixth episode of Crimetown is probably the strongest of the season so far, and not surprisingly, it’s because it stars D&D player and former mobster Jerry Tillinghast. Again, it’s the usage of the show’s audio clips and interviews that makes the 35-minute runtime so compelling, as you can hear the weariness and sadness in his voice.

The broad strokes of the show – Tillinghast has to kill one of his best friends, a fellow mobster, who had gotten too mouthy. Unknown to him though, he’s already being tailed by a police officer (Vincent Vespia) and an FBI agent, so he’s arrested shortly after the hit.

However, his brother Harold, who in previous episodes is portrayed as not having the nerve for the mob life, is also arrested. Vespia is convinced that he saw Harold in the car, while Tillinghast’s old lawyer and others swear that he wasn’t. The tension stems from the fact that 1) someone WAS in the car with Tillinghast 2) it almost certainly wasn’t Harold but 3) Tillinghast won’t give up who was in the car with him.

Tillinghast ends up convicted for the murder, but Harold is too. He spends 25 years in prison, because his brother chose his mob family over his actual family member. It’s gripping stuff, and you can hear the regret in Tillinghast’s voice as he talks about it, since after he’s incarcerated, mobsters start turning on one another to avoid prison sentences in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

It’s weird to say about a mob hitman, but Tillinghast, now 70, is the most sympathetic character on the show through six episodes. He shows some remorse and perspective on what he did, which is most evident when talking about Vespia putting him away. His words work as a great stinger to end the episode.

“Life’s too short to hold grudges. Listen, they do what they gotta do. I don’t hold grudges against Vinny or anybody. They’re doing their job. If I put myself in a position where I have to worry about the law, that’s on me. Choices. I made a choice. My favorite word is choices. It should be everybody’s in this fucking world. You make it, you own it. You reap the benefits, suffer the consequences. You made the choice. Be man enough or woman enough to take the pain as well as the gain.

Some odds and ends:

- This episode starts off with another great anecdote, with Tillinghast and his barber winning a gold medal. The narration is priceless. “And my model used to be Jerry Tillinghast.” “Yeah, that Jerry Tillinghast. Mob enforcer, Vietnam veteran, environmental inspector, and hair model.” Like the best mob movies, there is always a sort of bleak or dark humor to the anecdotes on Crimetown.

- In past entries, I’ve been spelling it “Jerry Tillinghast,” based on a bio on the Crimetown site. However, in some entries on their site and in other news articles, he goes by Gerry and Gerald. So, take your pick as to which is correct. (And, by the way – The characters page on their web site allows you to sort and filter by episode, and it’s very helpful! All they need now is to offer a downloadable organizational chart or family tree, a la a proper crime procedural.)

- The episode summary on the web site for Crimetown has some awesome photos. Check it out here!

- The show is on hiatus until late January, which kind of sucks. It was just starting to build up some momentum! Then again, I can understand that download numbers and new listeners would probably be non-existent for the Christmas and New Year’s Eve break.

I’ve written about podcasts here and there, and this entry from 2014, after Serial finished, is still mostly valid. And hey, I host a podcast! If you like pre-2000s video games, check out Your Parents Basement.

Want to support Steve’s blogging? Then purchase something via the Amazon clickthru link for Your Parents Basement, Steve’s other project! To read all of Steve’s past Inexplicable Movie Reviews, click here! For Inexplicable TV Reviews, click here! For Inexplicable Video Game Reviews, click here! And for Inexplicable Book Reviews, go here!

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