In March 1973, the television movie, Kojak: The Marcus-Nelson Murders, aired in the US via CBS. The movie – a detective picture starring Telly Savalas – followed the story of Lt. Theo Kojak, a New York City police detective, who strives to clear the name of an African-American man who he believes is innocent of murder.
Due to the popularity of the Kojak movie, a television show quickly followed. This in turn proved to be a big hit during the 1970s, and it was soon accompanied by a collection of television movies in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as a 2005 remake series.
But if you’re not familiar with Kojak you might be asking yourself how many seasons are there, how many movies were produced, and what is the correct viewing order of each?! Well, don’t worry, because in this post I am providing you with all those answers, in one easily accessible guide.
Understanding the Kojak timeline
As noted above, Kojak began in 1973 when a television movie first aired on CBS. This movie was conceived as a sort-of pilot, to see what the audience response would be, and once it proved popular with viewers a show soon followed.
The first season of this show made its debut in October of the same year, to begin a 22-episode run. Telly Savalas reprised the role of Lt. Theo Kojak, as he tackled a number of new cases, and audiences liked what they saw.
With Season One of Kojak becoming a hit, a second season was given the greenlight, making its way onto TV screens in September 1974. This season ran slightly longer, by stretching to 25 episodes, and once again it was a hit.
A third season of Kojak debuted in 1975, with a fourth following in 1976. Both of these seasons proved popular, so a fifth hit screens in 1977.
However, the fifth season of Kojak would prove to be the last. Although the show still had many loyal fans, the audience numbers had dwindled since the early days and with no signs of those numbers increasing, the show was cancelled.
With production on Kojak now over, the series appeared to be done and dusted. As such, the show moved into syndication, with reruns airing in the 1980s.
But this wasn’t the end for Kojak. The reruns convinced CBS there was some life left in the show, and in 1985 the network revived Kojak in the form of a television movie called Kojak: The Belarus File.
Telly Savalas returned to screens as Lt. Kojak for this movie, and once again audiences demonstrated their love for the actor and for the character. This led CBS to put another television movie into production, this time arriving on screens in 1987 under the title, Kojak: The Price of Justice.
At this point, CBS finally did decide to pull the plug on Kojak and it looked as if the character had solved his last case. However, this wasn’t true, it simply meant he had solved his last case for CBS.
Two years after The Price of Justice aired, ABC stepped in and gave Kojak another lifeline. A collection of five television movies soon followed, which aired between 1989 and 1990.
The last of these TV movies, Kojak: None So Blind, really was the end of the road for Telly Savalas’ time as Theo Kojak. After a run of 17 years, split over two networks, the actor concluded his involvement with the character, as he himself was nearing the end of his life.
In 1994, Savalas sadly passed away from complications of prostate and bladder cancer. His passing created a definitive end to the original Kojak series, but it didn’t quite put an end to the character.
Because Savalas had made Kojak so popular, the USA Network believed there was room for an updated take on the show. So, in 2005, a new Kojak series hit screens, as a remake of the original series.
For this new show, Ving Rhames took on the part of Lt. Kojak, with an all-new supporting cast and a new set of stories. However, his time in the role was brief, because after just ten episodes, the show was cancelled.
The idea to continue the Kojak legacy made sense, because the character was so popular, but the audience just wasn’t there this time around. The show came and went without a great deal of fuss, and largely now exists as a footnote in the Kojak story.
In total, between 1973 and 2005, Kojak clocked up 5 seasons of the original television show, as well as one pilot movie, seven follow-up television films, and a short-lived 10-episode remake series. This breaks down as follows:
- Kojak: 1 pilot movie
- Kojak – The Original Series: 118 episodes (5 seasons)
- The Kojak movies: 7 television movies
- Kojak – The Remake Series: 10 episodes (1 season)
The Kojak shows and movies in order
If you have never watched any of Kojak before, and you are only now just finding your way into this crime series, hopefully the following list will ease you in nicely. As you will see, it is very simple to follow, so it shouldn’t be difficult to navigate your way through.
The viewing order of the Kojak TV shows and movies is as follows:
- Kojak: The Marcus-Nelson Murders – Pilot movie (1973)
- Kojak – Season One (1973 – 1974)
- Kojak – Season Two (1974 – 1975)
- Kojak – Season Three (1975 – 1976)
- Kojak – Season Four (1976 – 1977)
- Kojak – Season Five (1977 – 1978)
- Kojak: The Belarus File – TV movie (1985)
- Kojak: The Price of Justice – TV movie (1987)
- Kojak: Ariana – TV movie (1989)
- Kojak: Fatal Flaw – TV movie (1989)
- Kojak: Flowers for Matty – TV movie (1990)
- Kojak: It’s Always Something – TV movie (1990)
- Kojak: None So Blind – TV movie (1990)
- Kojak – Season One – Stand-alone remake series (2005)
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