CBS SUMMER PLAYHOUSE “The Saint in Manhattan.” CBS, 12 June 1987. Season 1, Episode 1. Andrew Clarke (Simon Templar), George Rose, Kevin Tighe (Insp John Fernack), Liliana Komorowska, Holland Taylor, Caitlin Clarke, Michael Lombard. Based on the character created by Lesllie Charteris. Director: James Frawley.

   One way that CBS found to get some mileage out of pilots for TV shows that failed to find a home there was to play them as an anthology series over the summer when they assumed that no one was watching anyway. The Playhouse lasted for three years, but the basis of watching only this one, I’m going to say that it may have been one of the better ones.

   I hadn’t heard of its star, Andrew Clarke, before watching, and in fact this may be one of the few times this Australian actor may have appeared on US TV. He may also have been the only actor with a mustache (a bushy one) to have played the Saint, but I could easily be wrong about that. He also had a wide brash smile with lots of teeth.

   As the title indicated, the would-be series was to have taken place in New York City, with the Saint constantly bedeviling Inspector Fernack as they clash heads while solving murder cases together (in a matter of speaking). In this one, though, it is the theft of a valuable tiara from the head of the lead ballerina during a dance recital that brings the old foes together. Someone has framed Simon Templar for the job!

   The production values are very good, and Clarke, although initially far from my idea of what the Saint looks like, gradually became easier to watch in the role.

Much of the story line is played for light comedy — to the detriment of any fair play detective work, which is hinted at but never quite delivered upon. If I’d known about it at the time, however, I’d definitely have watched this pilot. — and the series as well, if there had been one.