Who The Hell Is Lee Goldberg?

November 2007

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

My Family Blogs

Authors Who Blog

Other Fun Blogs

« Run Away Screaming | Main | TV Main Title of the Week »

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mannix is the Man

The Los Angeles Times published a lengthy appreciation of MANNIX today:

Ph2007111600187 Somewhere out there, in the weird, quivering underbelly of the American dream, "Mannix" still lives.

Somewhere, there's a place where a sportcoat-clad private eye can whip around L.A. in a convertible, get beaten down by goons, shake it off with a scotch on the rocks, then solve the case of the week with an assist from his leggy secretary.

Somewhere out there, but not on DVD.

"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.

I do. What the reporter didn't mention was that two decades after the show was canceled, Bill Rabkin and I brought MANNIX back in highest rated DIAGNOSIS MURDER episode ever. The LA Times was one of the many newspapers and magazines that wrote about it back in 1997:

Mannix Mike Connors acknowledges that it's been "kind of strange" to step back into private investigator Joe Mannix's well-worn shoes after 22 years for Thursday's episode of CBS' "Diagnosis Murder."

"I'm really enjoying it," says the very fit 71-year-old actor. "Once they start calling you Mannix and Joe, of course, it becomes a little easier."

Connors played the strong and suave shamus on the CBS action series "Mannix" from 1967 to 1975, receiving four Emmy nominations.

This unique episode of "Diagnosis Murder" cleverly teams Mannix with his old friend Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) to solve a murder case that the detective was unable to crack on his own series 24 years ago.

Scenes from the 1973 "Mannix" episode "Little Girl Lost" are used in flashback sequences. Pernell Roberts, Beverly Garland and Julie Adams, who were guest stars on the original episode, also appear.

"It's such a good idea," the jovial Van Dyke says between takes on the "Diagnosis Murder" hospital set in Van Nuys. "We weave the old show in so well with the flashbacks."

The program marks the first time these two TV icons have worked together. "I have known Mike for a long time," Van Dyke says. "We are really having a good time."

Watching the filming with great delight are supervising producers Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, who came up with the idea of weaving the two series together over lunch one day.

"We talked about one of our favorite shows, which was 'Mannix,' and we couldn't believe no one had brought back the show," says Goldberg. "When we were kids we used to pretend we were Mannix. He drove the coolest car. He never got his hair mussed. I wanted to be as self-assured and as confident as he was."

After coming up with the idea of combining an old "Mannix" show with "Diagnosis Murder," Goldberg and Rabkin, who describe themselves as "TV geeks," began their search for the perfect "Mannix" episode.

"I had a book called 'Television Detective Shows of the 1970s,' which lists every episode of every single detective show of the 1970s," Goldberg says. "So we started looking through eight seasons of 'Mannix' and making a list of episodes where the guest stars were alive, affordable and the story sounded interesting. We must have pulled 30 of them and watched them."

"Little Girl Lost," Goldberg says, "had enough emotional resonance that it would carry over 20 years. What is great about this episode is that Mannix promised this little girl he would find her father's killer. In the episode, he actually discovers this whole mob plot, but he never actually nails the killer."

Goldberg then had to get up enough nerve to call his idol. "We couldn't write the episode until we got him on board. So essentially I spent an hour on the phone assuring him this wouldn't be a 'Naked Gun' spoof. We wouldn't be making fun of him and this would be a genuine continuation and it would be a real meaty part."

Though his hair is still perfect, time has caught up with Mannix after too many years of hard living. While in the emergency room, Dr. Sloan discovers Mannix has a potentially deadly heart condition. Being the ultimate tough guy, the private eye refuses to listen to his old friend's warnings.

"We knew we couldn't have him be the man he was 20 years ago," Goldberg says. "But we also had to be true to that man and we got a kick pairing him up with Dr. Sloan, who is soft-spoken and tries to get answers out of people being roundabout and clever, and Mannix is in your face."

Beverly Garland, who is reprising her role as a tough cookie named Stella, quips that doing this show was like "coming back from the grave!"

"It was the best," says Garland, who first worked with Connors in the low-budget 1955 Roger Corman flick "Swamp Women." "It's going to be fun to see all of us the way we were. It's going to be an interesting show. It works."

 

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/22583/23613830

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Mannix is the Man:

Comments

I remember that episode well. I have fond memories of Mannix as well. I would love to see it released on DVD, with all the bells and whistles that usually accompany such releases. Another favorite show that seems to be neglected is The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The article originally appeared in the Washington Post, which might explain why they "forgot" about MANNIX appearing in DIAGNOSIS MURDER.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Books by Lee Goldberg

Lee On Tour

  • August 18 Mysteries to Die For Thousand Oaks, CA Signing "Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants"

    August 25 2 pm Mystery Bookstore Westwood, CA Signing "Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants"

    February 2009 Left Coast Crime 2009 Hawaii Toastmaster