May 2013

by Michael Shonk

Below are this summer’s original scripted mystery series with a link to its home page or press release. Any additions are welcomed. Times subject to change.


Sunday 2nd:



Tuesday, June 4th:

MAIGRET – MHz Worldview International

Thursday 6th:



Friday 7th:


Saturday 8th:


Sunday, June 9th:

IRENE HUSS – MHz Worldview International

Monday 10th:



Tuesday 11th:


Friday 14th:


NTSF: SD: SUV – CARTOON NETWORK (Adult Swim) 12 Midnight

Saturday 15th:


Sunday 16th:


Saturday 22nd:


Sunday 23rd:




Tuesday 25th:



Friday 28th:

CULT – CW – 8PM (two episodes a night)

Saturday 29th:


Sunday 30th:




Monday 1st:


(Press release on right side)

NOTE: this is currently not on list of shows. It may have been pulled.

Sunday 7th:


Wednesday 10th:


Thursday 11th:


(Press release on right side)

Tuesday 16th:



Friday 19th:


Saturday 20th:


Sunday 28th:



Saturday 3rd:


Wednesday 7th:


Sunday 11th:



Monday 12th:


Sunday 25:


(Press release on right side)



A Review by MIKE TOONEY:

THE HUNTERS. 20th Century-Fox, 1958. Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, Richard Egan, May Britt. Based on a novel by James Salter. Director: Dick Powell.

THE HUNTERS Robert Mitchum

   Dick Powell, former pretty boy film leading man, directed a Korean War-era actioner about heroism, duty, and self-sacrifice. Unfortunately The Hunters spends far too much time on the ground wallowing in soap opera clichés and not enough in the air.

   Robert Mitchum plays a World War II fighter pilot retread who has volunteered to fly F-86 Sabres against Russian-made (and sometimes Russian-manned) MiG-15’s in what the United Nations and the U.S. State Department wanted to call a “police action” — but, as this movie makes clear, was a war.

   (Then, as now, the rules of engagement [ROE] favored the enemy — if the Red pilots got into trouble, they could always skeedaddle for the border and sanctuary. Just a decade later, American aviators were encumbered with similar limitations in the Vietnam War. At least one pilot in Nam, Col. Jack Broughton, let the world know about it in two books: Thud Ridge and Going Downtown.)

   Gradually, Mitchum falls in love with the wife of one of his subordinates, and she reciprocates. The fact that her husband is a coward at heart and is willing to let Mitchum have her in exchange for a favor almost pushes this film over the top. Only Mitchum’s integrity saves this sticky situation from unadulterated bathos.

   What he does towards the movie’s finale — going that extra mile that honor demands to save the man he’d easily be justified in leaving to the tender mercies of the Communists — elevates his character from merely a superior officer charged with responsibilities to out-and-out hero. His nonchalance after having resolved the dilemma is fun to watch.

   Also nearly over the top is Paul Sawtell’s opening musical score, a riff (or, if you prefer, a rip-off) of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” Somehow, though, it seems appropriate.

THE HUNTERS Robert Mitchum

   Speaking of Wagner, then teen heart throb Robert Wagner steals every scene he’s in as a hot-shot throttle jockey whose recklessness costs the life of his wingman. Once Mitchum straightens him out — with a satisfying punch to the jaw — he becomes more of a menace to the Reds than his own guys.

   The main problem with The Hunters is its tendency to slide into clichés: the love triangle, the eager beaver who’s as much of a threat as the enemy at times, the would-be warrior who’s a coward when you come down to it. A better script coupled with those fine aerial sequences (see, for example, The Bridges at Toko-Ri) would have made this film a winner. The acting is first rate, with everybody convincing in their roles (although I do find May Britt rather weak in that department).

   As it is, if you can get past the sloppy melodrama, you should find The Hunters quite entertaining. If you happen to own the video, watch it through once and the next time fast forward to the flying scenes. They’re easily the best part of the movie.

THE HUNTERS Robert Mitchum

ROYCE HOWES – The Case of the Copy-Hook Killing. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1945.

   Howes started out with a bang as a mystery writer. In the five years between 1935 and 1939 he wrote seven novels, all published by Doubleday and the Crime Club. Then the war came along, and Howes, a newspaperman, did any further writing in the ETO for the Army News Service — information provided, incidentally, by the back flap on the dust jacket. (If you’re like me, you’ll read anything.)


   Both Howes and his leading character, Captain Ben Lucias of the Homicide Squad, returned from the war in 1945. Lucias had been in five of the Crime Club books, but this was the last outing for both of them. Why it was done for Dutton instead of Doubleday, I don’t know, but I can guess. As a mystery, it’s Not Very Good.

   But, a copy-hook? I hear someone asking. A copy-hook is what one of those sharp steel spikes are called that reporters used to use to file their stories on. The scene, naturally enough, is a newspaper office, and it’s the reception clerk who’s been murdered. He was the guy whose job it was to keep the nuts coming in from the street from off the editors’ backs.

   And so Lucias’ ensuing investigation has him busily checking out the crackpots and all the other assorted creeps who saw the dead man last. It’s obvious that Howes knew the type well. He laughs at them, and if his characters reflect his own opinions at all, he despises them as much as they do.

   What is equally obvious is that the solution to the murder has nothing to do with this list of weirdos that Lucias has to work his way through. But downright distasteful, however, is Captain Lucias’ interrogation technique. Slugging a prisoner around in police headquarters is not likely to have been a remarkable occurrence back during the forties, long before today’s attempt at enlightened police procedures had begun to make some headway.

   It’s just that it’s difficult for me to recall it being done by a series character in police uniform before, one supposedly functioning as a competent detective, as well as one trying to maintain the respect of the reader.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 4, No. 4, July-August 1980 (slightly revised).

     The Captain Ben Lucias series —

Death Dupes a Lady. Doubleday, 1937.


Night of the Garter Murder. Doubleday, 1937.
Murder at Maneuvers, Doubleday, 1938.
Death Rides a Hobby. Doubleday, 1939.
The Nasty Name Murders. Doubleday, 1939.
The Case of the Copy-Hook Killing. Dutton 1945.

   Howes was also the author of two non-series mysteries, Death on the Bridge (Doubleday, 1935) and The Callao Clue (Doubleday, 1936).

PostScript:  From Wikipedia: “Royce Bucknam Howes (January 3, 1901 – March 18, 1973) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author who also published a biography of Edgar Guest and a number of crime novels. He worked for the Detroit Free Press from 1927–1966 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 for an editorial on the cause of an unauthorized strike by an autoworkers local that idled 45,000 Chrysler workers.”


THE MANHUNTER. CBS, 1974-75. QM Productions; developed by Sam H. Rolfe. Cast: Ken Howard as Dave Barrett, Robert Hogan as Sheriff Paul Tate, Ford Rainey as James “Pa” Barrett, Claudia Bryar as Mary “Ma” Barrett and Hilary Thompson as Lizabeth “Sis” Barrett.

   THE MANHUNTER was Quinn Martin’s second attempt at doing a series about a PI in 1930s Depression. His first was NBC’s BANYON [reviewed here ] set in Los Angeles that ran from 1971-73.

THE MANHUNTER Kenneth Howard

   Developed by Sam H. Rolfe (HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, DELPHI BUREAU), THE MANHUNTER featured ex-Marine Dave Barrett returning from fighting in China to find the Depression had changed his hometown of Cleary Idaho and the fortunes of his family’s farm.

   Dave was a man of few words, a man experienced in action. After stopping one infamous group of bank robbing gangsters, he decided to keep the family farm financially safe with the money he would collect tracking down wanted criminals. With the superfluous help of friend Sheriff Paul Tate, Dave showed rural America could handle those city gangsters. At least that was the way it started.

   The characters were drenched in Americana folklore from the good hardworking locals to his family with Pa, Ma, and little sister. This GUNSMOKE meets THE UNTOUCHABLES told in the Quinn Martin style of straight forward action had one major flaw.

   In the book Quinn Martin, Producer by Jonathan Etter (McFarland, 2008), Ken Howard discussed the series THE MANHUNTER.

   â€œI was playing a role that I wasn’t suited to,” explained Howard, “If you were to pick somebody to play the Manhunter, it would be Clint Eastwood. Kind of a stony-faced man of few words, which is not my own measure of what I had done as an actor up to that point. I tried to be that as best I could.”

   Quinn Martin and the writers began to change the character of Dave Barrett. Howard remembered Quinn Martin comparing him to more like Jimmy Stewart, more verbal and laconic:

   â€œLater in the year, they brought in this guy, this funny, hard-nosed guy, and he started changing it around. The Manhunter became more verbal, and this guy had me wearing kind of a three-piece, tweed suit… This writer was making me more of an FBI type, not a country guy.”

   I have seen the TV Movie pilot and three episodes. All four episodes had a different producer, not a sign of behind the scenes stability, but if Ken Howard’s point of view is correct, Quinn Martin was the showrunner.


THE MANHUNTER Kenneth Howard

“The Pilot.” (February 26, 1974) Written by Sam H. Rolfe. Directed by Walter Grauman. Produced by Adrian Samish. GUEST CAST: Gary Lockwood, Stefanie Powers and Tim O’Connor *** It is 1934 and ex-Marine Dave Barrett returns home to find things have changed. Due to the Depression, the Barrett’s farm is in financial trouble. Dave is at the local bank when its robbed by a gang made infamous by an opportunistic reporter. Things go wrong and Dave’s ex-girl friend (wife of Sheriff Tate) and Dave’s loyal dog are killed. Dave goes after the bad guys and girl and discovers reward money might be an answer to keeping the family’s farm.

   The pilot had moments when writer Rolfe’s wit lifted the TV Movie above the standard action TV Movie but the story was burdened with clichéd characters and predictable twists.

“Death On the Run.” (October 2, 1974) Written by Robert W. Lenski. Directed by Leslie H. Martinson. Produced by Sam H. Rolfe. GUEST CAST: Harry Guardino, Bo Hopkins and William Schallert. *** Gangsters take a wounded member to the local hospital. On the run for multi-murders and other crimes, the gangsters take everyone in the hospital hostage just as Dave and the Barrett family arrive with a seriously injured Pa. One of the gangsters recognizes Dave as the famous Manhunter.

   This episode featured the original version of Dave Barrett. The episode was standard TV action drama that was mindless, if not also, mildly entertaining.

“Flight To Nowhere.” (December 18, 1974) Written by Robert I. Holt. Directed by Lawrence Dobkins. Produced by Arthur Weingarten. GUEST CAST: Christine Belford, Tom Skeritt and Norman Alden *** PI Dave Barrett is hired by an insurance company to investigate a jewel robbery in a small town near Los Angeles.

   This was a generic TV PI episode more suited for BANYON than THE MANHUNTER. Why send a PI from Idaho to solve a simple jewel robbery in Southern California? The mystery is obvious. The action keeps things moving, but leaves no time for the romance between Belford’s character and Dave to be more than a kiss at the end.

“To Kill A Tiger.” (February 26, 1975) Teleplay by S.S. Schweitzer. Story by Mort Fine. Directed by Bernard McEveety. Produced by Mort Fine. GUEST CAST: Kevin McCarthy, Robert Loggia and JoAnn Harris *** The Governor hires Dave to uncover a conspiracy to assassinate him.

   Ken Howard is looking more Ivy League than Idaho farmer. The original premise of rural hero versus Chicago type gangsters has been replaced with just another Quinn Martin style action TV PI. The one thing that was not changed was the gunfire, chases, and fistfights.

THE MANHUNTER Kenneth Howard

   In Broadcasting (September 16, 1974) excerpts from various reviews of the first episode were printed.

   John J. O’Connor of the New York Times wrote, “It’s still action adventure, but it works better than most. The production is good, the period details are attractive, and [Ken] Howard and other cast regulars are pleasantly effective. As escapist fluff, it could settle into the plausible category.”

   Kay Gardella of the New York Daily News wrote, “This is a good, weekly bread-and-butter series.”

   Dick Adler of the Los Angeles Times had a different view. “There might have been the germ of a workable idea in THE MANHUNTER … but the same Quinn Martin trash-compacter which has already turned CANNON and BARNABY JONES into interchangeable hours of mindless motion seems to have been at work here…”

   THE MANHUNTER lasted only one season, but ratings, while not Top 30 worthy, were not bad. The show aired on CBS, starting September 11, 1974 on Wednesday night at 10 to 11pm, opposite ABC’s GET CHRISTIE LOVE and NBC’s PETROCELLI. After two weeks, THE MANHUNTER average rating share was 36.5 compared to GET CHRISTIE LOVE 29.5 share and PETROCELLI’S 28 share. (Broadcasting September 30, 1974). But that would change.

   In April 1975, CBS cancelled THE MANHUNTER. Broadcasting (April 14, 1975) reported the series had an average of a 33 share from September through December, but in January the audience began to turn to NBC’s PETROCELLI. THE MANHUNTER also lost on average five shares from its lead-in CANNON.

   Timing doomed THE MANHUNTER from any possibility of a second chance. Public opinion was in one of its anti-violence moods. For the next season, the FCC had ordered the networks to adopt the “Family Hour,” where between 8 and 9pm only family entertainment could air. In Broadcasting (May 5, 1975), CBS President Robert Wood admitted that for the upcoming season, when offered a choice he’d pick a tame melodrama or variety show rather than an action series.

   Despite its early potential, THE MANHUNTER could never overcome the changes in premise and character nor the growing anti-violence public. The series was watchable but so ordinary and flawed that when gone few noticed or cared.

FRANKLIN BANDY – The Blackstock Affair. Charter, paperback original, 1980.

FRANKLIN BANDY The Blackstock Affair

   It was about a year ago that I wrote a review of a book entitled Deceit and Deadly Lies, which was the first adventure of Kevin MacInnes, the famous polygraph expert known as the Lie King. It cost $2.25, and my advice, quoted on the back cover of this, the second adventure, was that it was worth the money. Not only that, but it won an Edgar too.

   This one will set you back an additional 25 cents. It’s worth the total of twenty bits, but gee, I remember when 25 cents was itself the going rate for a paperback. (And everybody knew so well that that’s what it was that it wasn’t even printed on the front cover.)

   Enough of that. The vicissitudes of being a series hero being what they are, in between books MacInnes has lost his wife Vanessa, whom he won only in the final pages of the last adventure, to the vindictive followers of the man he defeated. Don’t feel too sorry for Maclnnes, though. He has a new body-guard-assistant to work for him this time around, a former private detective named Amanda Button. In this long, sprawling novel they share some strange adventures together, and all in all, I rather hope Amanda survives until the next book.

   Scene: Blackstock, Ohio. The birthrate is dropping without explanation. Not being a medical man, Maclnnes ignores all such aspects of the problem, and he aims in instead on what is probably a Commie plot. Or an attack from outer space. Or the machinations of an evil scientist. Or, Ralph Nader would like this one, capitalistic commercial overkill?

   Bandy’s story-telling style consists of interspersing intelligent commentary on world conditions with tough “masculine” writing: flat declarative sentences and cliff-hanger chapter endings. I think he feels obliged to include all the sex and violence that he does as doing what “modern” readers want, but there’s such a nervous edge to it, that it seems to me at least that he’s slightly embarrassed by it.

   I’m only guessing, of course. Certainly no one should ever knock success. And if action-filled adventure spiced with a modicum of brainwork behind it ever appeals to you, don’t miss this one.

Rating: A minus.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 4, No. 4, July-August 1980 (slightly revised).

[UPDATE] 05-27-13.   As this old review says, this was the second recorded adventure of Kevin MacInnes. What the review didn’t say, and couldn’t, is that it was also the last. Bandy wrote two other paperback originals, both stand-alones, in this same time period (1978-80). Preceding these four were three novels starring NYC PI Berkeley Barnes and his “Archie,” Larry Howe, which came out in hardcover between 1971 and 1973, all three under the pen name of Eugene Franklin.

Reviews by L. J. Roberts

C. J. BOX – Breaking Point. Putnam, hardcover, March 2013.

C. J. BOX Breaking Point

Genre:  Licensed investigator. Leading character:   Joe Pickett, 13th in series. Setting:   Wyoming.

First Sentence:   On an early morning in mid-August, EPA Special Agents Tim Singewald and Lenox Baker left the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency building at 1595 Wynkoop Street in downtown Denver in a Chevrolet Malibu SA hybrid sedan they’d checked out from the motor pool.

   When Joe finds a cut fence and his neighbor, Butch, on Wilderness land, he doesn’t think too much about it. However, when the EPA and Feds come in and insist on taking over an investigation of two murdered EPA agents found on the neighbor’s land, Joe seriously questions their motives and methods. In order to keep things as controlled as possible, he agrees to lead the agents into the mountains to track Butch down.

   Boy, can this man write!! The story is completely engrossing; all the more so as the premise is taken from a true story. If anything, I can’t quite understand why Box is not as popular and widely read as other, similar authors. It’s certainly not for lack of
storytelling. Perhaps it is because he calls out the wrong-doing of some who work for public agencies and misuse their positions. I appreciate it, as it is one way to keep such agencies in check.

   Box’s characters rank among the best. Joe is a man of strong morality and integrity, but knows there are times when justice must prevail over the letter of the law.
He’s also not perfect, which makes him even better. His marriage has gone through rough patches, but they’re stronger for it. His daughters are growing up and are written very realistically for their ages.

    I like that Pickett’s friend Nate Romanowki, an “off-the-grid” free agent and a favorite character of the series’ fans, makes an appearance, albeit a small one. For those who’ve not yet read the series, there is enough information to jump in and not feel lost. However, do yourselves a favor — start at the beginning and catch up. It’s well worth the reading.

   There is incredible sense of place. The tension and suspense are palpable. Box’s ability to convey emotion is tangible. You feel Joe’s anger, fear, jubilation and sorrow.

   The sign of a really good book is when you had intended to turn the light out at 10 p.m., but find yourself still reading until 2 a.m. in order to finish, and the ending leaves you a bit stunned. Breaking Point is that good.

Rating:   Excellent.



CRIME WITHOUT PASSION. Paramount Pictures, 1934. Claude Rains, Margo, Whitney Bourne, Stanley Ridges, Leslie Adams, Charles Kennedy, Paula Trueman. Written & directed by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur

    On a brighter note, Crime Without Passion is a Clever, Woolrichish little thing written and directed by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, no less, about a high-powered shyster (played a bit broadly by Claude Raines in his third screen appearance) tired of his inconvenient mistress.

   When said mistress gets thoughtlessly shot, arguing over possession of a gun in her apartment, Raines knows that circumstantial evidence around her death will convict him of murder (and we know he deserves to step off for it) but being a legal mastermind, he also knows how to go about removing said circs while planting a trail of evidence that will absolve him, which he spends the rest of the film doing.


   Okay, with a premise like this, you pretty much know Raines is going to trip himself up and get hung, so it’s no surprise that’s just what happens here.

   But just how Hecht and MacArthur score is the trick of this thing, and I have to say when they put it across the plate, I wasn’t just looking the other way, I was up in the stands buying peanuts, that’s how well they misled me. It’s one of those films that I can tell you it has a surprise ending and it’ll still surprise you.

   I should also add that Crime starts with one of the most remarkable montage sequences ever committed to film: a blur of images that evokes the most febrile and lurid of the old Horror Pulp Covers and a few minutes of Cinema that will stay in my memory long after whole other films have vanished:

William F. Deeck

CHRISTOPHER BUSH – The Kitchen Cake Murder. William Morrow, US, hardcover, 1934. First published in the UK by Cassell, 1934, as The Case of the 100 Percent Alibis.

   The British title is by far the better one here and quite descriptive. Why the U.S. publisher thought anyone would be interested in the murder of a cake baffles me. Indeed, the cake has nothing to do with the murder but with the unraveling of an ostensibly unbreakable alibi.

   Frederick Lewton, blackmailer, is murdered at his home at 7:12 p.m. on a spring evening. One minute later his servant calls the police from the home to report the murder, or so it seems until it is discovered that the servant had just gotten off the 7:10 train when the call was placed. A visitor who left a few minutes before the murder has an equally iron-clad alibi. In fact, all who could be considered suspects in the murder have unimpeachable alibis.

   Superintendent George Wharton of Scotland Yard by chance is with the Chief Constable when the murder is reported. He investigates but is unable to break any of the suspects’ alibis. By even greater chance, Ludovic Travers happens by. He becomes engaged in the case and discovers, by means of the cake, the clue that destroys an alibi. And then that individual produces an even more convincing alibi.

   This is a novel primarily for pure puzzle fans. The mystery writer is an interesting character. The rest are the usual suspects.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 1, Winter 1991.

JOSEF HOFFMANN – Philosophies of Crime Fiction. No Exit Press, UK, softcover, July 2013; US, softcover, October 2013.

JOSEF HOFFMANN Philosophies of Crime Fiction

   This is not a review, only a brief post to draw your attention to this upcoming book, authored by an occasional contributor to this blog, Josef Hoffmann. I’ve browsed through it well enough, however, to recommend it to you, whether Professor Hoffmann were a friend of mine or not.

   From the front cover, quoting noted philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: “More wisdom is contained in the best crime fiction than in conventional philosophical essays.”

   From its page on the Amazon website, much of which is also found on the back cover of the book: “Josef Hoffmann covers influences and inspirations in crime writing with references to a stellar cast of crime writers including Arthur Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, Dashiell Hammett, Albert Camus, Borges, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Ted Lewis. Hoffmann examines why crime literature may provide stronger consolation for readers than philosophy. […] Josef Hoffmann’s combination of knowledge, academic acuity, and enthusiasm makes this a must-have book for any crime fiction aficionado — with or without a philosophical nature.”

   From Josef’s article “Hard-boiled Wit: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Norbert Davis” on the main Mystery*File website: “…it can be safely assumed that Wittgenstein’s taste complied with that of his time, and that he therefore partook of all the developments in crime fiction. His liking for the more modern literary style of the hard-boiled detective stories probably developed when they had made their way into almost all the crime story magazines, including Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine – on the model of the Black Mask.”


KING OF DIAMONDS. Syndicated, 1961-1962; Ziv/United Artists. Cast: Broderick Crawford as John King and Ray Hamilton as Casey.

KING OF DIAMONDS Broderick Crawford

   John King was the chief investigator for the Continental Diamond Industries. With Casey, his young handsome assistant, King led the fight against the evil IDB, the Illicit Diamond Buyers (well, at least the criminals were honest about it). Or as King explained, “… from the minute the diamonds come out of the clay until they go on somebody’s finger we protect them. The we is me.”

   King of Diamonds was a typical Ziv first run TV Film syndication series with the creative talent working against the limitations of low budgets and too short a production schedule. The series fortunately didn’t take itself too seriously which gives it a charm and makes it still fun to watch.

   The pace of the half hour episodes were fast enough for us to enjoy the story without noticing or caring about the plot holes. The writing featured dialog that was equally quick:

   â€œHe’s not big enough for this one.”

   â€œHe grew.”

KING OF DIAMONDS Broderick Crawford

   The episodes began with the narrator (probably Highway Patrol narrator Art Gilmore) setting up the story such as in “The Wizard of Ice”:

   â€œâ€¦ A world of diamonds. The world of Johnny King. Margie Howard wanted a share of that world, a two million dollar share, enough to play three men like a guitar. Men who heard the words but not the music. To Johnny King the melody was loud and clear.”

   Broderick Crawford was the perfect Johnny King, tough guy detective, a man obsessed with the recovery of stolen diamonds. Murder, justice, those were the police’s problems all Johnny King wanted was the diamonds back. Crawford biggest acting challenge was trying to be convincing as a ladies man with beautiful women from his past still helpless against his charms.

   It is hard to take the show seriously when King wore a trench coat and fedora in nearly every scene including at least once when he was sitting behind his office desk. Check out that outfit in this trailer for the series:

   Ray Hamilton was forgettable in the stock character role of King’s young assistant. The guest cast was above average especially (in the episodes I have seen) Lola Albright, John Anderson and Gerald Mohr.

   Directors such as Irving Lerner were able to overcome a lack of time and money and occasionally shoot some quality scenes such as a car chase in a high-rise parking lot involving three people in “The Wizard of Ice.”

. (I have watched three episodes each with incomplete credits. Titles from

“The Wizard of Ice.” Written and produced by John Robinson. Directed by Irving Lerner. GUEST CAST: Lola Albright, Telly Savalas, John Anderson, John Marley, and Richard Kiel. *** A hijacking of two million in diamonds gets complicated by a woman.

“Commando Tactics.” Written by Steve Fisher. Directed by John Rich. GUEST CAST: Gerald Mohr *** King’s fun loving WWII commando buddy has decided to try the adventurous fun life of a diamond thief.

“Backlash.” Written by Edward J. Lasko. Directed by Skip Homeier. GUEST CAST: James Coburn and Nancy Kulp. *** War hero and respected citizen in a small town in Maine has his past come back to haunt him as a former army buddy arrives wanting to sell the diamonds they had stolen from the Nazis during the War.

KING OF DIAMONDS Broderick Crawford

   King of Diamonds was an entertaining show despite its flaws or in part because of them, but it was the story behind the scenes I found more interesting.

   It is well known Broderick Crawford had a problem with alcohol (too many DWIs cost him his driver’s license and they had to adapt filming Highway Patrol). There is an interesting story about why Crawford agreed to do King of Diamonds in Rick Jason’s (The Case of the Dangerous Robin) autobiography Scrapbooks of My Mind. (Thanks to Wikipedia for citing its sources.)

   â€œAfter four years of the pressure of two shows [of Highway Patrol] a week, Brod got fed up, said he couldn’t take it anymore, so he quit and went to Spain to make movies. The studio held up payment of his ten percent gross. A year or so later he came back to the States.

   â€œHe’d dried out, hadn’t had a drink in almost nine months, and he wanted his money from Highway Patrol. Ziv cut a deal with him: if he’d do a pilot for a new series called King of Diamonds and sign on for the series, they’d release about two million dollars they were holding and he would only have to do one show a week if the pilot sold. He signed.”

   Despite being in over 185 markets including the top five markets in the country, King of Diamonds lasted just one season. TV was changing at the time. In the words of Broadcasting (9/18/61), “Production of programs for first-run syndication has virtually collapsed.”

KING OF DIAMONDS Broderick Crawford

   Production costs were rising. The trade magazine reported the cost of an average first-run syndicated TV Film series had risen to $40,000 to $50,000 per episodes. With a star such as Broderick Crawford (who was also credited as associate producer) King of Diamonds’ costs were most likely even higher.

   Meanwhile the market had been taken over by off-network reruns that were cheaper, had proven popular with the viewers, and could be aired on a daily basis.

   In the fall of 1961, King of Diamonds competed against twenty-one newly available off-network reruns series including Peter Gunn, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Hong Kong, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, The Lone Ranger and Yancy Derringer.

   Another problem facing first-run TV Film syndication was the increase in the networks’ involvement in the programs they aired. Even the weakest network, ABC had increased the amount of programs they scheduled and their series quality. Also, the hour-long format was beginning to take up more and more time of the prime-time schedule.

   TV’s most successful first-run TV Film syndication company, Ziv Television would soon disappear as United Artists Television would completely take over the company (dropping the name Ziv from Ziv/United Artists television) in 1962 when Frederick Ziv sold the last part of the company he still owned and left Hollywood to teach at the University of Cincinnati.

   It is hard to mourn the passing of Ziv Television with its bottom of the barrel production values, but it was responsible for a few shows such as King of Diamonds that might not have been the best television ever made, still have enough charm to entertain.

KING OF DIAMONDS Broderick Crawford

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