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Kojak starred Telly Savalas as the bald-headed, lollipop-sucking New York City policeman Lieutenant Theo Kojak. The reason that Kojak loved lollipops was because Savalas was a heavy smoker, and in the face of growing anti-smoking feeling in the USA he decided to suck on a lollipop instead. This became his trademark and, along with charisma and humour, it lightened the gritty storylines.

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You could probably use a dictionary for this, although to be fair "gritty" does have multiple meanings. In this context, it means "showing something unpleasant as it really is; uncompromising". A "gritty" story, such as a novel, movie or TV show is usually very "dark" in tone - very serious, often humourless to maintain that tone, and may be quite graphic either visually or psychologically.

In your example, the text is suggesting that the TV series Kojak had "gritty" storylines and subject matter, but that there were lighter elements that acted as a contrast, so it was not entirely humourless.

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