Great Dialog in Kojak

I'm not a huge Kojak fan, but the following dialog is perfect. It appears in "Web of Death" starring the amazing Hector Elizondo (looking very, very young).

*Spoilers* (sort of--this is a Columbo-type episode; we know who the murderer is upfront)

Kojak has realized that Detective Nick Ferro, played by Elizondo, is the murderer (he killed his wife's lover):
Kojak: It was the silencer. I should have picked up then.
Captain Frank McNeil: What?
Kojak: Well, there was no way he could have known. He hadn't seen the ballistics report. But I figured when he mentioned it, after 16 years on the force, a man's entitled to an educated guess. There were other signals too. I was just slow in tuning in.
Captain Frank McNeil: A day? You call that slow?
Kojak: Oh, Frank, it hurts. I pinned the gold on him myself.
Captain Frank McNeil: Theo, don't gouge yourself. He kept it polished.
The brilliance of the dialog is that it is completely comprehensible, yet uses the kind of short-hand that detective shows often sacrifice for the sake of audience comprehension. The opposite of heavy handed, the dialog assumes smart viewers will pick up on context/in-between-the-lines meaning without it being spelled out.

Rather than saying, "Come on, Kojak. You figured out the identity of the murderer faster than anyone could expect. And even though you are the one who promoted him, you shouldn't blame yourself; he was a good cop up until recently. It isn't like any of us could have guessed how bad he would go..."

Instead Captain McNeil and Kojak employ terms that carry more weight with each other than they would with outsiders: You call that slow? Pinned the gold on him myself. He kept it polished.

Because the dialog carries weight with the characters, it carries weight with the audience. Meaning is determined as much by context, reaction, intonation, and individual word choice (entitled, slow, gold, gouge, polished) as by any insider knowledge.

Of course, this kind of thing can go too far. The audience has to comprehend something; dialog can't be all connotation and jargon. It's impressive when it can find the line between letting the audience in and retaining the characters' world.

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