Sat 26 Mar 2011
“The Cost of a Vacation.” An episode of Mannix CBS-TV; Season 1, Episode 6 (27 October 1967). Created: Richard Levinson and William Link. Developed: Bruce Geller. Written: Chester Krumholz. Directed: John Meredyth Lucas. Cast: Joe Mannix: Mike Conners, Lew Wickersham: Joseph Campanella. Guest Cast: Joyce: Marlyn Mason, Ramon: Donnelly Rhodes, Leonard: Henry Beckman
“The Cost of a Vacation” was an entertaining episode despite the flawed premise of the first season of Mannix. The original idea behind the series was to have hardboiled PI Joe Mannix work for a modern computerized investigation agency named Intertect.
In this episode, Joe had to ask his boss’s permission to help an ex-girlfriend. Would any hardboiled PI ask permission for anything? It weakened the lone hero PI character, and for little reason, as boss Lew Wickersham gives in quickly. You are left wondering why someone like Joe Mannix would work for Intertect.
In “The Cost of a Vacation”, Mannix’s ex-girlfriend of the week, Joyce Loman asks Joe to find the man she fell for during a vacation romance. Long thought gone, she had spotted him on the street and gave chase. The beautiful but not too bright model failed to realize he was trying to get away from her.
The script is fast paced with few scenes without a twist or two. The episode overflows with classic elements from hardboiled mysteries. The lying client. Mystery man. His deadly reason to remain hidden from Joyce. A dead man in a dark alley that leads Mannix to an office where he gets knocked out from behind.
But not before finding a clue. Joe’s legman, the computer, discovers the meaning of the clue as Joe works “the streets.” Joe and disbelieving Joyce are shot at by a killer.
Later, the killer’s reason for missing them leads to a harrowing scene worthy of the darkest noir. Dark city streets. Camera angles, cuts and movement used to increase the tension of the final chase. What more could a hardboiled PI fan want?
Mike Conners was the main strength of the series. He portrayed tough guy Joe Mannix straight, as an old fashioned hero, without a hint of the modern day PI’s cynicism or sarcasm. The rest of the cast performed well, but you had to feel sorry for the talented Joe Campanella reduced to little more than telling Mannix, “No. I really mean no. Oh, go ahead, Joe.”
“The Cost of a Vacation” is an episode any TV mystery fan will enjoy, even those of us who never liked Mannix. You might even find yourself humming Lalo Schifrin’s theme music for days later.
SOURCE: The source DVD I used is listed at online at the usual outlets with the title Best of TV Detectives: 150 Episodes.