TV musicals

While spending a few minutes of idle time I found I had today, I came across this video on YouTube. I don’t know who put it together — he or she is identified only as RwDt09 — but I found it fascinating. How many of these do you remember?

MICHAEL AVALLONE – Mannix. Mannix #1. Popular Library, paperback original; 1968.

   From what I have read on the Internet, it was too early for Avallone to have seen any episodes of the TV show Mannix when he wrote this book. It’s an original novel, not based on any of the episodes that aired, but definitely based on the first season’s characters and premise.

   To wit: As an investigator for Intertect Limited, Mannix is the odd man out. Intertect is all about computers, punch cards and efficiency, Mannix is strictly a non-conformist in that regard. He works on instinct and knowing people, and his is the most cluttered desk in the Intertect office.

   This of course leads to a lot of conflict between him and his boss, Lou Wickersham (he was Lew in the series itself). The only reason he keeps his job is that he is Intertect’s best operative, a fact that Mannix keeps reminding Wickersham of.

   The book is only 128 pages long, so the story itself is a throwaway. A young woman, impossibly beautiful and prone to sunbathing in the nude, is also impossibly rich — three billion dollars worth. She is also bored, and when she is offered a chance (she thinks) to work for the CIS, she jumps for it without a second thought.

   Little does she know that her contact works for the other side, and it is up to Mannix to rescue her from the trap she falls into. That she also falls in love with Mannix is a given.

   The four other books in the series (see below) are based, I believe, on actual episodes of the TV series. Under the circumstances, you cannot fault Michael Avallone for not having a very good grasp if the character, only the surface elements.

   And viewers at home must have liked Mannix the character a lot more than the computer world premise, since the latter had been dumped by the time the second season began, and the series went on for a total of eight seasons.

        The remaining Mannix novels —

Mannix #1: The Faces of Murder (1975, by J.T. MacCargo)
Mannix #2: A Fine Day For Dying (1975, by J.T. MacCargo [Peter Rabe])
Mannix #3: A Walk on the Blind Side (1975, by J.T. MacCargo)
Mannix #4: Round Trip to Nowhere (1975, by J.T. MacCargo [Peter Rabe])


“THIRTEEN CLOCKS.” An presentation of The Motorola Television Hour, ABC-TV, 29 December 1953 (Season 1, Episode 5). John Raitt, Roberta Peters, Basil Rathbone, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Alice Pearce. Based on a story by James Thurber. Director: Don Richardson. Shown at Cinefest 18, Liverpool NY, March 1998.

   Somebody attempted to make a case this year for including early TV shows on the program, but the case was not made for me by this offering. According to the notes, this adaptation of James Thurber’s children’s book was the “first full-length play with music ever done for live television.”

   The music was undistinguished and although I have a great deal of tolerance for whimsy, it was sorely tried by this musical. Rathbone looked old and tired, and Hardwicke’s character frequently dozed off. I’m not sure he was always dozing off in character.