MICHAEL SHAYNE “Man on a Raft.” Unsold TV Pilot. Aired on the NBC summer replacement series Decision, 28 September 1958. Cast: Mark Stevens (Michael Shayne), Merry Anders (Lucy Hamilton), Robert Brubaker (Tim Rourke), Robert Stevenson (William Gentry). Guest star: Diane Brewster. Teleplay by Steve Fisher, based on thee characters created by Brett Halliday. Directed by Mark Stevens. Currently streaming here on YouTube.

   The summer replacement series that replaced The Loretta Young Show for 13 weeks in 1958 consisted entirely of pilot episodes for various series, most of which never came to fruition. The first one shown was picked up, though, and went on to considerable success, that being The Virginian, starring James Drury.

   Not so for this early attempt to get a Mike Shayne series on the air. (The one starring Richard Denning as Shayne came along later.) In it a young good-looking girl comes to Shayne for help in determining when her playboy husband died. He lost his life in a boat at sea, and a good deal of money depends on whether he died before or after his birthday. The other two men on the boat survived, but barely, and the only way of determining what actually happened is by means of a diary one of them kept.

   You can take it from there, but as usual with private eye shows on television, thirty minutes of running time (less time-out spots for would-be commercial buyers) is not enough for more than a bare bones mystery to develop. Other than Mark Stevens as Shayne, none of the rest of the regulars had time enough to make an impression, and Stevens would not have been my choice of an actor to play him. He’s a little too dour for my tastes. In his series Denning looked as though he was having fun playing the role.