January 8, 2021


A SHORT HISTORY OF CLASSIC TV'S MOST UNUSUAL INVESTIGATORSIn the late Sixties everyone wanted to create a TV detective. But how to make your fictional sleuth stand apart? (KEITH ROYSDON, 1/08/21, Crime Reads)

'The Immortal' was ... not

The premise of the 1970 TV series "The Immortal" sounds like a comic-book plot in some ways: A racecar test driver donates a pint of blood to his billionaire boss and the rich man discovers the blood is a miracle drug that, with repeated transfusions, can convey immortality on whoever receives it.

Star Christopher George's character--named Ben Richards, perhaps after two of the "Fantastic Four?"--won't age and won't die, unless he is killed. Richards must go on the run to stay out of the clutches of a series of billionaires, who hire bounty hunters to find him and bring him back for an endless series of blood transfusions.

In the meantime, Richards looks for his estranged brother, to warn him that his blood might make him a target as well.

The Fugitive/Lassie/Incredible Hulk trope is in full effect here, as Richards, sometimes hitchhiking and carrying a small duffle bag, walks around the southwest, interacting with strangers and affecting their lives.

Ben Richards might have been immortal but, no, his series was not. It was canceled in January 1971 after only the pilot and 15 episodes. [...]

'Barnaby Jones' and the Case of the You Kids Get Off My Lawn

When "Barnaby Jones" debuted on CBS in 1973, Buddy Ebsen was 64 years old. It  says something about TV's youth orientation that the selling point of the show was that Ebson was so old! He was the first elderly TV detective!

The Associated Press referred to the detective as--gulp--a foxy grandpa!

Newspaper coverage of the series' debut also noted that this was a chance for Ebsen, a Hollywood staple since the 1930s, to shake the image of Jed Clampett from "The Beverly Hillbillies." Ebsen must have done that, because "Barnaby Jones" ran until 1980.

The premise of the series: Jones came out of retirement and went back into the private investigation business after his son was killed. He teamed up with his daughter-in-law, former big-screen Catwoman Lee Meriwether, to take on bad guys. Mark Shera played a younger member of the family who joined up a few seasons in to perform more of the most physical stuff.

Posted by at January 8, 2021 12:00 AM