It sounds like nothing new. Hard boiled detective uses computers and other forms of technology to solve cases. It isn’t anything new, except the detective in question is Joe Mannix and the series aired in 1967. The computer that Mannix used took up an entire room and was queried using cardboard punchcards. This wasn’t science fiction. We’re not talking some newly discovered Irwin Allen series. Mannix didn’t go after aliens or robots. This was a down to earth gritty detective show. Mike Connors played the tough as nails detective. He was perfect for the part and blended into the role seamlessly for 8 years.
The show was created by the team of Link and Levinson, who later gave us the detective in the rumpled raincoat, Columbo. It was groundbreaking in so many areas. While it might not be remembered today as one of the top detective shows, there can be no argument about the impact Mannix had on the genre. A decade later one of my favorite television detectives, Jim Rockford, would borrow rather heavily from Mannix. Like
This is a wonderful opportunity to join Mannix from the beginning. Fans of the show’s later years might not recall these early Intertect years. Many syndication packages did not include these first season episodes. In syndication shows can’t always be aired in the original broadcast order so that these episodes would upset the continuity of the show’s run. Both Campanella and Intertect would be gone starting with the second season. The set includes some truly original stories and powerful guest casts. The Name In Mannix sets the stage for the season. He has to convince the father of a kidnapped girl to put up a cool million dollars to get her back. Remember this was 1967. In Nothing Ever Works Twice, Mannix finds himself a murder suspect after he takes a case involving an ex-girlfriend and her husband. Mannix falls hard for the daughter of a scientist who Mannix has been hired to find. The scientist has come up with a powerful formula that must be kept out of the wrong hands in The Many Deaths Of Saint Christopher. Mannix disobeys his bosses at Intertect when he takes a case from a young girl whose father is about to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Mannix turns on the charm for the man’s ex-mistress in Make Like It Never Happened. Mannix must infiltrate a hippie commune in Warning: Live Blueberries. Mannix becomes persona non grata when his investigation of a dead cop unveils a corrupt vice unit in Run Sheep Run. The best episode(s) of the season is the two part story Deadfall. Wickersham and Mannix become deadly enemies. Wickersham is being controlled, and he’s out to get Mannix. Mannix is forced to leave Intertect and work on his own to uncover the truth before either of them gets killed. This episode and the following story, You Can Get Killed Out There, foreshadow Mannix’s eventual leaving of Intertect. In the later episode he refuses to work for a mobster and pleads for Wickersham to turn down the case. Instead Mannix is forced to quit. While he returns each time, the next season would find him out for keeps.
Each Mannix episode is presented in its original television full frame format. We’re talking about a 40 year old television show, and your expectations should be adjusted accordingly. Overall the transfers are remarkably solid. While colors are a bit soft, the picture itself is rather clean. The most notable standout is the rather generous level of grain, but this should never be considered a defect, rather the result of the film’s stock and a legitimate part of the presentation. Print defects are minimal when you consider the age. Black levels are relatively weak but do not seriously take away from the experience.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track does what it needs to do, nothing less, nothing more. You get to hear the dialog and the energetic and jazzy theme perfectly even if not in a more modern dynamic presentation. The show never sounded better and is not likely to at any time in the future.
The features are spread out over the six disc set.
When you select your episode, don’t be in such a rush to press the enter button on your remote control. During the episode menu screen Mike Connors delivers an Audio Introduction setting up each episode for you. There are also a couple of Audio Commentaries by Connors in the set.
Interview With Mike Connors and Joseph Campanella: Presented in two parts on these discs, this recent interview is a gem for fans. While Campanella looks more the worse for wear, Connors looks surprisingly well for a man in his 80’s. The two joke a little and answer questions about the first season. Again Campanella’s memory seems to fail him a bit.
CBS Fall Promo: This is pretty much like a trailer heralding the coming of the new series.
Mike Connors on the Mike Douglas Show: I grew up in the
TV Spots and CBS Sales Promotion: Again these are advertisements for the series from the days when it ran.
Hard Boiled Detective: Mannix returned to the airwaves in a Diagnosis Murder episode. The episode starred Connors as Mannix and brought back three guests from a past Mannix episode: Julie Adams, Beverly Garland, and Robert Prenell. This is only a 5 minute clip from the show’s opening credits. It might have been a nicer touch to include the entire episode.
Mannix got more than its share of attention in the late 60’s. It was often parodied on the famous Bob and Ray radio show as Blimmix. CBS dealt with protests and angry mail over the violent content. All of it seems rather absurd today, but it was quite serious in the time. Credit the network for not caving under pressure and the show’s writers and production staff for delivering such high quality television under adverse circumstances. This was one of those eagerly awaited releases, and it’s finally here. So now all of you Mannix fans out there, “you’ve got one less problem in your future”.