Monday, January 02, 2012

Ross to the Rescue

Although I have read Lou Cameron’s 1969 paperback novel, The Outsider, I’ve never actually watched the 1968-1969 NBC-TV series on which that book was based. Yes, I understand: This almost disqualifies me from membership in the Ceaseless Defenders of Old TV Crime Dramas Club--especially given The Outsider’s notable pedigree (it was novelist-producer Roy Huggins’ precursor to The Rockford Files). But that’s something I am going to have live with, at least for now.

While McGavin’s equally short-lived Kolchak: The Night Stalker has become a cult favorite, with prominent DVD releases, no official set of The Outsider has been brought to market. And though I know that some of the 26 episodes of The Outsider--which starred Darren McGavin as “low-rent ex-con turned resigned, wistful private eye David Ross”--are available in bootleg versions on the Web, I haven’t yet brought myself to plunk down the money for their acquisition.

So I was surprised over the weekend to discover two video clips from The Outsider on YouTube. They take in the beginning and end of a late-series episode titled “Periwinkle Blue” (originally shown on April 2, 1969). They were posted by someone who signs him- or herself “Shmoytz,” and operates a YouTube page devoted to the late American actress Lois Nettleton, who guest-starred in “Periwinkle Blue.”

The early minutes of this episode (with Ross calling to complain about an inadequate takeout serving of fried chicken) definitely remind me of what Huggins--who is credited here under the pseudonym “John Thomas James”--was able to accomplish with The Rockford Files. But it’s impossible to make more thorough comparisons without actually seeing the episode in toto.

Maybe I shall have that chance someday. For now, I’ll have to be satisfied with these two small tastes of The Outsider.

READ MORE:A TV Movie Review by Michael Shonk: The Outsider (1967)” (Mystery*File); “A TV Series Review by Michael Shonk: The Outsider (1968-69)” (Mystery*File); “FFB: The Outsider--Lou Cameron,” by Randy Johnson (Not the Baseball Pitcher).


Fred Zackel said...

Is this the film co-starring Eve Arden? That's a good one! see, there were more than one Outsider movie.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

According to Kevin Burton Smith's indispensable Thrilling Detective Web Site, there were two TV movies made by combining episodes of The Outsider: Anatomy of a Crime (comprising "Tell It Like It Was ... and You're Dead" and "There Was a Little Girl") and The 48 Hour Mile (comprising "The Flip Side" and "Service for One"). That information is available here:

As far as I can tell by looking through her page in the Internet Movie Database, Eve Arden didn't co-star in any episodes of this short-lived Darren McGavin series. Nor did she appear in any other films called The Outsider. Arden was, however, a guest on Checkmate, Ellery Queen, and Vega$, among other TV crime dramas. And she starred as amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers in A Very Missing Person, an unsold 1972 TV pilot film.