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Zakes Mokae television 1980s
Mokae´s television work is generally character acting, a role in an episode or a made-for-tv film. Good professional acting but nothing amazing, with some exceptions. Mokae says "Time is important in television, it's hit the mark, say the line and let's get out of here. You don't get to go into the motives of the characters." (from Las Vegas Review Journal, 18 Feb 2001, interview by Ken White).
The 1980s also saw his role in Fugard's play Master Harold ...and the boys filmed with Matthew Broderick and John Kani.
Knight Rider. The episode Goliath (2.1), a double length start to the second series. 1982. A complicated episode with a dual role for Michael Knight played by David Hasselhoff...
...and three or four improbable sub-plots wound together. Knight and his car KITT face Goliath, a bionic and evil truck. The truck has the same molecular bonded shell as KITT and it is to be sold to Tsombe Kuna, head of the Pan African Liberation Movement, played by Mokae. Mokae will use Goliath to raid an army base for missiles. Mokae looks like he is having fun, but if you are involved in a gun battle then hiding behind the missiles doesn't seem a good idea to me.
There is some good imagery of Hasselhoff (in his dual role) superimposed on the construction of Goliath.
A Caribbean Mystery, directed by Robert Michael Lewis. 1983. An Agatha Christie mystery with Helen Hayes as Miss Marple.
Miss Maple befriends the major who suspects there is a murderer on the island...
...but he becomes the first victim.
Mokae plays Captain Daventry of the police, investigating the first murder.
Party time with Miss Marple in fancy dress as a pirate.
The murders continue, with a range of suspects.
Mokae interrogates the various suspects.
But given that Miss Marple solves the case, he didn't get too far.
A predictable story, all too obvious clues and all too obvious cliché characters. Mokae gives his usual professional performace.
All images from the film.
Master HArold... and the boys drected by Michael Lindsay-Hogg with Matthew Broderick, John Kani. Athol Fugard´s famous play made for TV. 1986.
Zakes stars alongside other Fugard veteran John Kani and the young Broderick. The youth and the black servants soon come to reflect the rise of apartheid in South Africa. Mokae, Kani and Broderick are superb, a great version of a great play.
A Different world, the episode Dr Cupid (1.15) 1988. Directed by Regge Life and written by Deanne Stillman. The series is a spin-off from The Cosby Show and is set in a black college.
Dr Cupid is a Valentine Day's special (broadcast on 11 Feb 1988). Dr Cupid is the college disc jockey.
The episode has two stories, both love stories. Dr Cupid is in one and in the other Lette Bostic (played by Mary Alice) is told there is a phone call from a Mr Mpepo. She acts strangely and refuses the call.
It turns out she and Marcus Mpepo (played by Zakes Mokae) were lovers and met in Mozambique. Asked how long since she last me him she says 28 years and 4 months.
But Mokae turns up anyway.
Will they get together again?
"A long-lost flame surprises Lettie with a visit. The couple worked together to publish incendiary material about the South African government, but she rejected his marriage proposal because she could not sacrifice her dreams. Marcus leaves after an argument, but Denise gets him to come back by making a radio dedication in Lettie's name. Marcus explains to Lettie that he is not trying to win her back; he is happily married, and simply wanted to give her a photo of his daughter- whom he named after Lettie." The description comes from epguides (thanks for permission to quote).
The episode lasts 24 minutes but has to carry two sub-plots, so each story is quite minimal.
Images from the DVD of the episodes.
The Hogan Family series is basically a happy families sitcom though with a young aunt rather than a mother- the mother was in the original series when it was called Valerie but left the series.
The episode Strangers on a Train (4.10), directed by Richard Correll, 1989 tackles a serious issue, racism, linking both Martin Luther King day and apartheid in South Africa. Mokae plays Thomas Mambukwe, an old teacher of the aunt Sandy (played by Sandy Duncan).
Mambukwe tells tales of when he was in South Africa, being arrested for being in a while area at night. He talks of the misery in jail, with no-one knowing he was there, and the guard walking on the faces of prisoners. The stories reflect Mokae's experience in South Africa where he was imprisoned and beaten.
The story is set on Martin Luther King day and there is an anti-apartheid demonstration in town. The boys, Willie and Mark, want to go to there but the father won't allow it as they have school the next day.
They sneak off but are nervous alone on the train at night.
When a group of coloured youths get on the train (hence the episode title, Strangers on a Train) they assume they must be in a gang, and when one approaches they think they are being robbed and give him money, but he says he was only going to ask the time.
They realise they were acting in a racist way and apologise. The youths are also going to the demonstration so they go together. The join up with the rest of the family and with Mokae.
The episode ends with an MLK tribute. The episode was broadcast on 16 Jan 1989, to coincide with Martin Luther King day 18 Jan.
Episodes of The Hogan Family are usually very light, so this episode with Mokae, attacking apartheid and supporting Martin Luther King day, is an admirable exception. The writer were Chip Keyes and Doug Keyes (who are also Supervising Producers).
All images from the film.
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