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Monday, August 5, 2013

Two Cop Shows For The OTN.

The shows in question are "87th Precinct" and "The Lineup"
I never saw "87th Precinct" when it was on originally, in the early 60s.
It was on opposite something I watched regularly.
I think it was "Make Room For Daddy", which I never missed.
I was recently sent an episode of "87th Precinct" to watch.
It was an hour-long, much better than average cop show..
Sort of a cross between "Dragnet" and Naked City"
Like Dragnet, in that it was out and out Detective work.
And it had a bit of a sense of humor, embodied by an early career Norman Fell as a Detective named Meyer Meyer.
Like "Naked City" in that shootouts were a regular element.
I don't recall Joe Friday ever even picking up a gun.
Good dialogue and storytelling, and a very good cast, including Robert Lansing and Ron Harper.

"The Lineup" was the San Francisco version of "Dragnet"
It ran concurrently with it in the mid-fifties.
Straight police work.

Wonderful location shooting, and old cars.
And like "Dragnet", it had a great narrator.
Of course he wasn't as great as Jack Webb.
Nobody was.
But he was pretty great.
His name was Art Gilmore.
Art Gilmore was perhaps best known as the voice of almost every movie trailer in the 1950's.
Particularly comedies.
I think he did all the Martin and Lewis movies, and all the Doris Day light-hearted virgin and non-virgin movies.
He was a major asset on "The Lineup"
He performed a very similar role on "Highway Patrol", which starred Broderick Crawford.
Same asset.
If you can't imagine his voice from this information, you might recall his work as the announcer on "The Red Skelton Show"
And "The Lineup" had a lot going for it besides Art Gilmore.
The two lead cops were played by the extremely straight Warner Anderson, and the extremely wry Tom Tully.
Tom Tully was wonderful.
His rap sheet on the IMDB is a mile long.
He played Dick Van Dyke's father on the Van Dyke Show when J. Pat O' Malley didn't.
Tully was much funnier than J. Pat.
Unlike Jack Webb and whoever he was partnered with on "Dragnet", Anderson and Tully were equal partners.
And they were two relatively old guys.
And there were plenty o' shootouts, and rolling around on the ground.
And they both handled themselves with aplomb.
Apparently without stunt doubles.
And there was usually a scene that took place at a Lineup.
The show was always interesting.

These two shows should both be seen again on a regular basis.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.


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  1. I've never seen "87th Precinct" but I would like to, to see how it measures up to the Ed McBain books that inspired it. From what you say, I'm guessing it measures up quite well. Norman Fell is perfect casting for Meyer.

    And if you like Tom Tully, you should see him in "The Lady in the Lake," if you haven't already. He plays a cop who has to put up with Robert Montgomery's Philip Marlowe on Christmas Eve. In what is perhaps Tully's best scene ever, the cop, at work on Christmas Eve, talks to his kid on the phone as Marlowe eavesdrops.

    The scene does nothing to advance the plot, but he and the scene are so good that you don't care. (Or at least I didn't.)

  2. Mark Murphy, there is a low budget DVD set of 87TH PRECINCT available. Get a used one on The entire sole season. Great guest stars, too. For THE LINE-UP, it was syndicated as SAN FRANCISCO BEAT - but not on DVD as of yet.

  3. One principal reason that "87th Precinct" was as good as it was was that Evan Hunter/Ed McBain was totally involved in the production - far more so that almost any other writer whose books were adapted for TV.
    At this point (the early '60s), the 87th novels were still original paperbacks, then regarded as the lowest form of literary life. Evan Hunter was quite careful to keep his "serious" identity separate from his "popular" ID as "McBain" in the early going, although the "secret" got around soon enough.
    Before the 87th TV series, several very-low-budget "second feature" movies had been made of the earliest books; one of them starred Robert Lansing in the role he played on the series.
    Compared to these, the TV show was almost an epic (the producer was Hubbell Robinson, one of the higher-end producers of that time).
    That it only ran one season was a subject for much debate among buffs in the years since.

    As to "The Lineup", Tom Tully had the reputation of being somewhat of a rebel on set.
    Several years into the run, the producer, Jaime del Valle (HY-mee del VY-yay), swung a deal to make a feature movie of "The Lineup" for Columbia, with Don Siegel directing.
    When Tom Tully saw the script, and saw that his and Warner Anderson's parts were reduced to secondary status behind Eli Wallach's villain, Tully quit the production - which is why, if you see "The Lineup" movie, Warner Anderson's partner is played by Emile Meyer (who gets to "chastise" several people in the film).
    Tully did stay with the TV series - until its last season, when CBS expanded it to an hour and added a bunch of younger actors to the cast. Tully only stayed for a few hour episodes, then quit.
    He did keep acting, though, through to the end of his days, when he'd lost a leg to illness and had to act from a wheelchair I think his last such role was in "Charley Varrick" with Walter Matthau - directed by Don Siegel).

    And Art Gilmore had another narrator gig in the police genre:
    "The New Breed", Quinn Martin's first independent production, and Leslie Nielsen's prototype that he wound up spoofing in "Police Squad!"

    QM used narrators in most of his early series, but Art Gilmore was the only one who ever got onscreen billing for the job.
    And of course, later on Art Gilmore became one of Jack Webb's favorite onscreen Captains on the '60s "Dragnet".

    "More Than You Wanted To Know" will return ...

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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."