For the first time, fan favorite Barnaby Jones is coming to DVD in a boxed set collecting the first season of the Classic TV detective series.
After years of fans wanting and waiting, our patience has finally been rewarded! This 662-minute DVD set brings all 13 the episodes as originally broadcast, in full screen video and English mono sound. They are also closed captioned. It's being released by CBS/Paramount, and while I've not yet seen the set, it's reportedly been carefully remastered, and contains all of the original musical cues.
Buddy "Beverly Hillbillies" Ebsen plays the tile role, while Lee "Batman, Time Tunnel" Meriwether portrays his daughter-in-law, Betty Jones. Barnaby heads his LA firm, while Betty provides him with invaluable assistance.
The Classic TV detective series aired on CBS from Jan. 28, 1973, to April 3, 1980. It premiered as a midseason replacement show, shaking up the CBS lineup by taking the timeslot of the Iconic Classic TV detective series Mannix, pushing it back to air one hour before the new kid on the block. Because of that, there were fewer episodes produced in its first season.
The Barnaby Jones character was introduced in 1973 in an episode in the third-season of the Classic TV detective series, Cannon, entitled, "The Deadly Conspiracy." The two-part episode began on Cannon and concluded on the premiere of Barnaby Jones with "Requiem for a Son."
An aging Barnaby had decided to retire and had left the private investigation business to his son, Hal. The now-grieving Barnaby decides to take the advice of his friend, Frank Cannon (William Conrad, in the cross-over from the show Cannon), to come out of retirement and solve the case in the pilot episode, "Requiem for a Son." His widowed daughter-in-law, Betty, joined forces with him to solve the case of her husband's murder.
At the conclusion of the case, the pair decided that they had worked together so well that they would continue to keep the detective agency open.
Until the cancellation of Cannon, the characters of both series moved back and forth between the two shows, an unique arrangement and a first for TV
Jones was also unusual, ordering milk in restaurants and bars, countering the stereotypical hard drinking detective. (Ironically, Ebsen was to disclose that he had struggled with alcoholism for decades.)
In 1976, the character of J. R. Jones, portrayed by Mark Shera, was introduced. J.R. was Barnaby's cousin. He had come to LA to try to solve the murder of his father, but stayed to help Barnaby and Betty, while also attending law school.
Barnaby was quite astute, noticing clues most other P.I.'s or the police had missed. Because of his age, Jones knew he would be bested in a fistfight with the criminals he pursued, so he used other means to protect himself, like slamming a door on the hand of a gun-carrying thug!
First season episodes collected here are: Requiem for a Son; To Catch a Dead Man; Sunday: Doomsday; The Murdering Class; Perchance to Kill; The Loose Connection; Murder in the Doll's House; Sing a Song of Murder; See Some Evil, Do Some Evil; Murder-Go-Round; To Denise, with Love and Murder; Little Glory, a Little Death; and Twenty Million Alibis.
Guest stars during the series were a virtual who's who of the acting talent of the day, including: Conlan Carter, Gary Lockwood, Stefanie Powers, Wayne Rogers, William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Richard Anderson, Claude Akins, Carl Betz, Meredith Baxter Birney, Bill Bixby, Jack Cassidy, Geraldine Brooks, Richard Bull, Dabney Coleman, Jackie Coogan, Glenn Corbett, Cathy Lee Crosby, Meg Foster, Anne Francis, Lynda Day George, Richard Hatch, James Hong, Claudia Jennings, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis, Ida Lupino, Roddy McDowell, George Maharis, Nick Nolte, Jessica Walter, Lynn Hamilton, Jon Cedar, Paul Sorenson, Roddy McDowall, and Gary Owens.
Let's hope the remaining seasons are promptly released!