Reza Badiyi

I wanted to note one recent TV-related death: Reza Badiyi, the Iranian-American director whose name you can see on so many TV shows from the last season of Get Smart to the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was a very common presence on action and crime dramas of the ’70s and ’80s, and was one of those directors whose name on the credits indicated you were going to get some interesting angles or unusual compositions – an episodic TV director works within a lot of stylistic and time constraints, but the good ones would find something fun to do with the shots. And Badiyi was one of those guys who seemed to know the right place to try a low angle, or a mirror shot, or something like that, without calling attention to it or taking us out of the story. (Another TV drama director of the same era who was good at this was Jeannot Szwarc, who is still working.) But of course his most enduring and innovative contribution to TV direction was the title sequence of Hawaii 5-0, where he used all the techniques that TV – and even a lot of mainstream feature film – hadn’t yet come to terms with: sudden changes in speed, time jumps, lens flare, disorienting angles. Plus his great, iconic close-up of Elizabeth Logue. It’s still a great sequence.

Badiyi’s other great title sequence was for the first season of Mary Tyler Moore, though as the series went on most of it was replaced by new footage shot by David Davis. The one shot they never thought of replacing, though, was Mary throwing her hat in the air, something that Badiyi thought up to make it seem like Mary was “graduating” to a new life, throwing the hat as if she were a graduate throwing her cap. It’s a great match-up of a visual idea with the theme of the show. Badiyi talked about that and much more in his his Archive of American television interview,

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