STAGE 7. “The Long Count.” CBS, 27 March 1955 (Season 1 Episode 9). Frank Lovejoy (McGraw), Joan Vohs, Ted de Corsia, Biff Elliot, Nestor Paiva, Mel Welles, Richard Deacon. Screenplay by Federic Brody, based on a story by John Roeburt. Director: Alvin Ganzer. Currently available on YouTube.

   Research on the early days of network TV is still spotty at best. There is an individual entry for this episode as being shown on Four Star Playhouse, but when you look at the episode list for that series, it is nowhere to be found. Yes, Frank Lovejoy played PI-for-hire McGraw (no known first name) at least twice on that series, but this particular episode (with all of the same stated crew and cast members) is also listed as the ninth episode of Stage 7 for its one and only season.

   These early episodes for both series preceded, of course, the series Meet McGraw, which ran on NBC during the 1957-58 season. For a more on that series, check out Michael Shonk’s overview of it for this blog several years ago. (Follow the link.)

   In “The Long Count,” McGraw is hired by a prizefighter’s behind-the-scenes manager to keep him away from dames before an upcoming bout, but the guy slips out on him and manages to get killed by a hit-and-run driver. The boxing business being what it is, there are a lot of suspects, but McGraw manages to name the killer well within the 30 minute running time.

   The dialogue is fine, the production values quite acceptable, especially for the era, but the plot is a little threadbare and to me, Frank Lovejoy seems a little tired of the whole thing. One bright spot is the suitably sexy Joan Vohs, who both narrates and plays the manager’s girl friend. Only problem with the latter, storywise, is that “Pretty Boy” Mendero (a well-cast Biff Elliot) has an eye out for her, too.

   In any case, there are a few other adventures of McGraw online, either from Four Star Playhouse or the Meet McGraw series itself. Given time, I enjoyed this one well enough to watch some of the others.