THE JORDAN CHANCE. NBC, 2 hours. 12 December 1978. Raymond Burr (Frank Jordan), Ted Shackelford, James Canning, Jeannie Fitzsimmons. Guest Cast: John McIntire, Peter Haskell, Maria-Elena Cordero, Stella Stevens, George DiCenzo, Gerald McRaney. Teleplay by Stephen J. Cannell, based on a story by Roy Huggins (as John Thomas James) & Stephen J. Cannell. Directed by Jules Irving.

   Chronologically, as far as Raymond Burr’s career is concerned, this failed pilot for another TV series for him came after Perry Mason, after Ironside, after the short summer season of Kingston: Confidential, but before the long run of Perry Mason movies. I called this particular endeavor a “failed pilot,” and I’m sure that the people involved were ready to go with it as another series, but there was a big, big reason why they didn’t. I don’t know what the ratings were for it, but the fact is is that it’s not very good.

   I hesitate saying that it’s bad, but it’s an awfully close call.

   Here’s the premise. After serving time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, lawyer Frank Jordan sets up a foundation, with himself as the head, whose directive is to come to the assistance of others who are have found themselves in jail while innocent but have used up all of their other options.


   Such is the case of a Mexican-American maid who has been convicted of murder for only two reasons: one, that she’s Mexican-American, and two, because she was there on the scene, working in the dead man’s house and being the one who found the body. Once he’s convinced that she’s innocent, Jordan gathers up his crew of three assistants and heads for the small California town where the murder occurred.

   And where he finds – no surprise here – that not only does the local sheriff not want him coming in and stirring things up again, but none of the local townspeople do either. I think we have all seen this before. Not personally, mind you, but in watching several dozen TV shows with much the same story line.

   One problem here is that Jordan (Raymond Burr) is the whole show. His assistants are bland beyond belief, and then some. And the story’s so slight that at least twenty minutes is spent on watching cars squealing tires turning corners in city streets or chasing each other up and down rural roads, with the more than occasional sheriff’s helicopter hovering around overhead. Jordan does get roughed up a little, but once he convinces the sheriff to switch sides (I didn’t catch how this happened), the show’s over.

   And so was any chance for a series. Not even a Jordan Chance.