(The fifth entry in a month-long series about American TV crime dramas that debuted with fanfare, but are now largely forgotten.)
Title: The Devlin Connection
Starring: Rock Hudson and
Original Run: 1982 (12 episodes), NBC-TV
Premise: Brian Devlin (former McMillan & Wife star Hudson) was a highly valued military intelligence agent before settling into civilian life as the head of a prosperous private detective agency. After selling that business, he moved into a dramatically different role as director of the Los Angeles Cultural Arts Center, a position that gives him ample excuses to wear tuxedos and hobnob with entertainment “royalty.” But his once-peaceful existence has been upset by the unexpected appearance of Nick Corsello (Scalia), a 28-year-old son Devlin never knew he had. (Shades of Faraday and Company.) And what do you know--Corsello’s a private eye, too, though he’s quite a bit more rough around the edges than his old man, and he supplements his P.I. income with work as a racquetball pro at a local health facility. With the best of intentions, but mostly on the sly, Devlin uses his connections in L.A. and elsewhere to help his son make it as a sleuth. He even (reluctantly) assists Corsello on some of his cases, living a sort of double life in which he alternates between the highbrow crowd and low-order criminals. Corsello initially chafes at this interference, still being resentful of the fact that Devlin was nowhere to be seen when he was growing up. However, the two slowly make the “connection” of this show’s title, discovering they have more in common than anyone expected.
Created by John Wilder
Additional Notes: The Devlin Connection was originally supposed to be part of NBC’s new prime-time line-up for the fall of 1981. But Hudson’s health problems--culminating in emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery in November 1981--delayed the series’ debut for a full year. After it finally did start running, critics were quick to dub it McMillan & Son, drawing conceptual and storytelling comparisons between this series and Hudson’s earlier NBC Mystery Movie hit, and remarking on the reappearance of Hudson’s mustache, which had been so prominent during McMillan’s freshman year. Despite strength in Devlin’s screenwriting department--both Cliff Gould (who’d written for The Streets of San Francisco) and Howard Rodman (the creator of both The Man and the City and Harry O) worked on some of its episodes--the show failed to justify NBC’s patience in finally getting it on the air.
Above: The Devlin Connection’s write-up in the September 11-17, 1982, Fall Preview edition of TV Guide. (Click to enlarge the image.) TV Guide’s previous description of the program, in the fall of 1981, can be found here. Below: The show’s opening title sequence, with theme music by Patrick Williams.