REVIEWED BY MICHAEL SHONK:


THE BROTHERS BRANNAGAN. Syndicated; 1960-1961. 39 episodes @ 30m each. A Brad-Jacey Production in association with CBS Films. Cast: Steve Dunne as Mike Brannagan and Mark Roberts as Bob Brannagan. Recurring Cast: Barney Phillips as Lt. Avery. Created by Wilbur Stark and Jerry Layton. Theme by Alexander Courage; filmed on location in Phoenix Arizona.

THE BROTHERS BRANNAGAN

   Neither Steve Dunne nor Mark Roberts had the acting talent to impress Stanislavski, but they were likable as the leads, as were their characters. Bob and Mike Brannagan were brothers and best friends. Both, like real PIs as opposed to the fictional ones, worked within the law. In “Wheel of Fortune” they refused to break into a place for the client because it was against the law, and as they told the client, they were PIs not burglars.

   Bob was the practical one. He handled the money and was most likely to solve the case through deduction. He enjoyed his time with women, but he was not the womanizer his brother Mike was.

   There was a harmless quality to Mike’s pursuit of women, even when he pulled out his little black book filled with pick-up lines. Mike lent a more creative side to the solving of the mystery.

   Despite the low budget, lack of time and other limitations that came with TV-Film syndication, the writing and direction were the series strength. The thirty-minute story lacked time for much character or mystery depth, but the stories fast pace still had time for fist fights, shootouts, chases, light humor and nice (if today predictable) twists.

THE BROTHERS BRANNAGAN

   Few of the writers, directors and actors may be remembered today but they knew how to produce television shows that were enjoyable to watch. Writers such as Harold Jack Bloom (HEC RAMSEY) kept the stories interesting and entertaining. Directors such as Eddie Davis (BOSTON BLACKIE) may have shot fast but still had time to frame shots with near perfect use of film composition to add visual depth to the action and story.

   The series made good use of the soundtrack. With much of the action happening inside the home base for the brothers, the dining room of the Mountain Shadows Resort (a real place), the background music often featured a piano playing jazz. Alexander Courage (STAR TREK) composed the opening theme music.

   The series chief gimmick was the episode’s opening where, as the theme played, we would watch the Brannagans walk away from the camera, their backs to us, until they hear a voice shouting “Hey Brannagan.” They would turn and Bob would ask “Which one?” The picture would cut to someone who usually needed help. The brothers would walk back directly at the camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceJpT0jxfdA


    EPISODE INDEX: There was no on screen credit featuring episode title. Titles and episode number used here come from IMDb.com. The same IMDb.com that has Bob Brannagan listed as Bill in many of its episodes credits.

“A Very Special Woman.” Episode 1. Written by Harold Jack Bloom Directed by Paul Landres. Produced by Wilbur Stark and Jerry Layton. GUEST CAST: Dorothy Green, Leo Gordon, and Keith Richards. *** The local fence learns the hard way never dump the femme fatale, not when there are other men around.

      OPENING- HEY BRANNAGAN! : A beautiful woman with a broken high heel shoe needs help.

THE BROTHERS BRANNAGAN

“Wheel of Fortune.” Episode 24. Teleplay by John Dana. Story by Malcolm Stuart Boylan. Directed by Eddie Davis. Produced by Wilbur Stark and Jerry Layton. GUEST CAST: Lynn Cartwright, Ed Hashim and K.T. Stevens. *** A rich short-tempered Mexican with his wife arrives in Phoenix claiming a local art dealer has stolen a family treasure. The art dealer claims she does not have it and wants the money he cheated her out of in an art deal.

       OPENING- HEY BRANNAGAN! : A sign saying “Support Your Community Chest $1 a Chance with a kiss” and a beautiful woman asking them if they care to try their luck.

“Mistaken Identity.” Episode 28. Teleplay by Sam Ross, from a Story by William Link and Richard Levinson. Directed by Anton Leader. Produced by William Stark and Jerry Layton. GUEST CAST: Joann Manley, Lewis Charles and Bailey Harper. *** The boys are entertaining a pretty vacationing teacher when she is kidnapped.

       OPENING- HEY BRANNAGAN! : Two pretty girls waving at the brothers. Mike notes there’s one for each of them.

“Terror In the Afternoon.” Episode 30. Written by Al C. Ward. Directed by Jean Yarbrough. Produced by Wilbur Stark. GUEST CAST: James Flavin, Robert Harland, and Gloria Talbott. *** After two construction accidents costs the lives of a woman’s brother then fiance, she hires the brothers to check out the dam. The twist has her rich overprotective father building the dam and her wanting to see it destroyed.

       OPENING HEY BRANNAGAN! : A dog is trapped in a lake.

THE BROTHERS BRANNAGAN

   From “Broadcasting” (8/29/60): “Producer Wilbur Stark has announced a new policy in giving film editors on his tv (sic) series credit as ‘creative film editor’ plus part ownership of the properties. First to receive this benefit is John Woodcock, editor of THE BROTHERS BRANNAGAN, which makes its debut this fall in syndication for CBS TV-Films. Mr. Stark said he hopes the move will lure the best film editors to his company. He said film editors are perhaps even more important than directors.”

   Blasphemy! While the director is not the major power in series TV as he or she is in theatrical films, Hollywood would never claim the film editor was more important (even if they can be) than a director. In the four episodes above, “Terror in Afternoon” was the only one where John M. Woodcock had the on screen credit of Creative Film Editor. Oddly enough it was the only one of four with Wilbur Stark getting sole producing credit. In the other three episodes John M. Woodcock received the on screen credit of Editorial Supervisor.

   There are a dozen episodes available in the collector’s market including two websites, Thomas Film Classics, Robert’s Hard To Find Videos, and the other usual suspects.

       SUGGESTED READING…

   James Reasoner:

http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com/2011/07/tuesdays-overlooked-tv-brothers.html

   The Rap Sheet:

http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/2012/10/oh-brothers-where-art-thou.html

   Thrilling Detective: (We will forgive the hard working nearly perfect Kevin Burton Smith for his misspelling the brothers’ name. I know my auto-correct agreed with him.)

http://www.thrillingdetective.com/brannigan.html