Monday, November 19, 2007

“It Is to Weep”

On more than one occasion, we’ve suggested how absurd it is that memorable old crime dramas such as City of Angels, Hec Ramsey, Banyon, and David Janssen’s Harry O still haven’t yet been released in DVD form, even as crap like The Smurfs, Acapulco H.E.A.T., and Saved By the Bell is welcomed again into the public-viewing arena. Imagine our surprise at learning that we’re not alone in our frustration. Sunday’s Washington Post carried a cleverly penned piece about the too-long-delayed DVD release of Mannix, the 1967-1975 series that starred Mike Connors as an Armenian-American private investigator in Los Angeles, and was created William Link and Richard Levinson, who also gave us Columbo.

Laments the Post’s Neely Tucker:
“Mannix,” one of the longest-running, most violent (for its time), most popular television detective shows in the medium’s history, has been left out of the DVD trade. It’s fading into the forgotten realm of old television shows nobody remembers. [Joe] Mannix was, by one count, shot 17 times and knocked unconscious another 55 during the show’s eight-year run, and how great is that? Could those “Law & Order” twits take that kind of abuse?

Mannix was the last of a certain type of American manhood, circa early ’70s. He wore a tie and a wistful smile. He did not know doubt but was a friend of irony. He didn’t worry about giving women “their space,” and he wasn’t “in touch with his feelings.” He was kind to small dogs, little old ladies, and femmes fatales in deep trouble and short skirts.

He drove too fast, drank too much and smoked like he got paid for it. He slugged people and shot guys and never got pulled in by the cops. “The body count, even in the first few minutes of the show, could sometimes be appalling,” notes one television reference guide. This was the era of “Who loves ya, baby?” “Book ’em, Danno!” and “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”


“I’ve never really understood it myself,” says actor Mike Connors, who became one of the highest-paid stars on television (earning a then-stratospheric $40,000 per episode) at the height of the show’s Top 10 heyday. “We had a better average [rating] than ‘The Rockford Files’ or ‘Hawaii Five-0’ over eight years. And yet it’s like it never occurred, it never existed, it never happened.”

More than three decades after the show died, there are at least two Web sites devoted to it and more than 1,100 people have voted for it to be brought back on It was popular on TV Land in reruns in the late 1990s but never translated to DVD.
You’ll find the whole Washington Post article here.

READ MORE:Mannix,” by Ed Gorman.

1 comment:

Lee Goldberg said...

A couple of corrections and clarifications on Neely Tucker's MANNIX story...

Although the show hasn't been released on DVD, two episodes were released on VHS by GoodTimes Home Video about ten years ago. The cassette included the pilot and the first regular episode of the series.

And Mannix wasn't totally forgotten after it was canceled. In 1997, Mike Connors returned as Joe Mannix in an episode of "Diagnosis Murder" (which I wrote and produced). We brought back Connors and used an original episode of "Mannix" for flashbacks. The return of Mannix was widely reported in the press, including cover stories in TV Guide, the LA Times, and many other newspapers. It became the highest rated episode ever of Diagnosis Murder.