When I was growing up back in the 1970s, it seemed that every year brought a slew of new TV pilot films, shot in hopes of selling a series to one of the then three major U.S. networks. Some of those pilots spawned weekly programs, but many others--such as The Judge and Jake Wyler, Henry Darrow’s Hernandez, Glenn Ford’s Jarrett, and I Love a Mystery--never went beyond the auditioning stage.
Among that latter category was Crime Club. Broadcast originally by CBS on March 6, 1973, it starred Lloyd Bridges (formerly of Sea Hunt and San Francisco International Airport) as a private eye named Paul Cord, who headed up a state-of-the-art crime-solving organization, the membership of which comprised professional investigators from both the public and private arenas. The 90-minute pilot found Cord combining his talents with those of Judge Roger Knight (Victor Buono) to solve the slaying of another club associate. William Devane and Paul Burke (of Naked City renown) also starred in the teleflick, together with Cloris Leachman and David Hedison.
I haven’t seen Crime Club since, but I did recently come across this 9.25-minute clip from the film’s beginning on YouTube:
I remember watching Crime Club when it first aired, and thinking that it was pretty good. But CBS evidently didn’t agree with the young, optimistic me; it passed on the opportunity to turn Bridges’ baby into a regular series. Nonetheless, the premise lived on. Another Crime Club pilot--also shot for CBS, but involving a different writer and producer--was made in 1975. That second version starred Scott Thomas, Eugene Roche, and Robert Lansing in the tale of “an attorney (Lansing), an investigative reporter, and a detective [who] set out to find out who is behind a series of ice-pick murders.” Again, though, the pilot film didn’t generate a weekly drama.
Does anyone else recall tuning in either of these pilots?
UPDATE: Not long after I posted this piece, Illinois film and TV critic Marty McKee dropped me a note saying that he’d “seen both and liked both” Crime Club pilots, and had reviewed them on his Web site, Marty’s Marquee. You will find both of those write-ups here.