Finally, FINALLY, the very best Classic TV detective series EVER produced comes to DVD in a first-season set. For its legion of fans, it is a huge understatement to say this release is eagerly anticipated. Thanks to CBS/Parmount for putting this series out on DVD. Let's hope the remaining seasons quickly follow.
Mannix ran from 1967 through 1975 on CBS. Created by Richard Levinson and William Link and developed by executive producer Bruce Geller (who also created Mission: Impossible), the title character, Joe Mannix, is a two-fisted private investigator portrayed by Mike Connors.
Rarely has an actor so inhabited a TV character that it's impossible to separate the two. This series represents one of those times, and even the show's producers recognized it when the unusual credit proclaimed: Mike Connors IS Mannix. The ruggedly handsome Connors was the perfect match, and made the signature loud sports jackets of the time look great on his altar ego. Mannix also drove a variety of convertibles, and even had a car phone - which was unheard of at the time!
Mannix originally worked for a high-concept computerized firm known as Intertect in the rarely seen first season. This DVD set represents all of those episodes, including the series' pilot.
Mannix featured a dynamic split-screen opening credits sequence set to its theme music from noted composer Lalo Schifrin. Unusual for a private detective series, the Mannix theme is in triple time, the same signature used for a waltz.
(FYI: The show's title, opening credits and closing credits are in variations of "City Typeface," a distinctive, squared-off, split-serif face that has long been used by IBM Corporation as part of their corporate design, and continues to be used in its logo today. The use of this style of credits for Mannix spelled out his name as if on computer punch cards utilized by fictitious Intertect, but it was maintained throughout the series.)
The first season of Mannix is a lot different than the more familiar episodes that began in the second season, when Mannix opened his own agency at 17 Paseo Verde, Los Angeles, California. It was in the second season that the brilliant actress Gail Fisher was brought on board as Mannix's devoted secretary, Peggy Fair, whose cop-husband was killed in line of duty.
In the first season, Mannix is not on his own but is employed by an agency that tries to solve crimes using computers. It's great to see what passed for cutting edge technology in the late 1960's. The computers were the old mainframe type, and used punch cards and reel-to-reel tapes, which some younger viewers today may never have ever seen in use. These first season episodes are almost NEVER aired in syndication
All 24 first season episodes will be on this six-disc set with guest stars that epitomized the best of the 1960's including: Kim Hunter, singer Neil Diamond, Tom Skerritt, singers Neil Young and Stephen Stills, Richard Mulligan, Norman Fell, Army Archerd, Rona Barrett, and Karen Black. In addition, the release contains special features that include episode introductions by Golden Globe and Emmy-winning star Connors, along with an interview.
In its eight-year run, Mannix quickly became a TV staple airing on Saturday's at 10 p.m. Not only was it noted for its great writing, acting, unusual camera angles, hot cars and visuals, but also its violence. Mannix was, by one count, shot 17 times and knocked unconscious another 55 during the show's run.
During the first season of the series, Mannix worked for Intertect in large Los Angeles, which was the most high-tech detective agency in the country. His superior was Lew Wickersham, played to perfection by Joseph Campanella. The tension between the two men was entertaining, since Mannix belonged to the classic hard-boiled school of American detectives (hard drinking, womanizing but compassionate, and always quick to action.) Mannix generally ignored the computers' solutions, disobeyed Wickersham and did things his own way.
Connors incorporated his own Armenian heritage into his character. Viewers were treated to a host of great Armenian proverbs Mannix shared at some of the most interesting and unexpected times. A Korean War Army veteran, Mannix also seemed to struggle with unspoken demons from that experiences.
From the second season on, Mannix worked on his own with the assistance Peggy Fair. (Fisher was one of the first African-American actresses to have a regular series role on TV. Later in the series, the producers even considered a romantic relationship between the two, but feared it was too controversial for the time. Nonetheless, the chemistry between the two is unmistakable). He also had assistance from the police department, the two most frequently depicted were Lt. Adam Tobias (portrayed by Robert Reed) and later Lt. Art Malcolm (portrayed by Ward Wood). Other police contacts were Lt. George Kramer (Larry Linville) and Lt. Dan Ives (Jack Ging).
The series was also memorable for its cool cars, primarily convertibles, that Mannix drove. In Season 1, he drove a customized Oldsmobile Toronado convertible (Oldsmobile never produced a convertible in that model for sale); in Seasons 2-3, he drove a Dodge Dart GTS 340 convertible; in Seasons 4-6, he drove a Plymouth Barracuda convertible; in Season 7, he drove a Dodge Challenger Coupe; and in Season 8, he drove a Chevrolet Camaro LT.
Included in this DVD set is the pilot, The Name is Mannix, which truly sets the tone for the whole series. In it, maverick private-eye Mannix tries to rescue the kidnaped daughter of former rackets' boss, Sam Dubrio. Mannix bets he can get the girl back, if he can persuade her father to risk the half-million dollar ransom plus another half-million dollars to bribe the kidnapers' pickup man.
The other episodes here from the first season are: The Cost of a Vacation; Skid Marks on a Dry Run; Then the Drink Takes the Man; The Many Deaths of Saint Christopher; Make It Like It Never Happened; License to Kill, Limit Three People; Beyond the Shadow of a Dream; Warning: Live Blueberries; Turn Every Stone; Huntdown; Coffin for a Clown; A Catalogue of Sins; Run Sheep, Run; Falling Star; To Kill a Writer; Deadfall Part 1; Deadfall Part 2; You Can Get Killed Out There; Another Final Exit; Eight to Five, It's a Miracle; Delayed Action; and The Girl in the Frame.