Author: Yours Truly Johnny Blogger

EP0153: Let George Do It: Death Wears a Gay Sports Jacket

George is hired anonymously to find a killer who wears a loud sports jacket and has only been seen by several eccentrics.

Original Air Date: October 18, 1948

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EP0152: Jeff Regan: The Man With the Key

 

*Regan is given a key to a safety deposit by an ex-con.

Quote of the Show:

“He was as happy as a sword swallower with the hiccups.”

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Original Air Date: October 2, 1948

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EP0151: Box 13: One One Three Point Five (113.5)

A woman says she needs Dan to find her missing brother, but a private detective following them says she’s lying.

Original Air Date: July 28, 1948

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EP0150s: Suspense: The One Way Ride to Nowhere

A psychologist is found dead on a roller coaster after a ride, but he wasn’t on board when the roller coaster left.

Original Air Date: January 6, 1944

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EP0150: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Disappearance of Bruce Lambert

Edmond O'Brien

Johnny Dollar is called into find a missing insured archeologist.

Original Air Date: February 24, 1950

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EP0149: Sherlock Holmes: The Great Gandolfo

*On a challenge from his brother, Mycroft, Sherlock Holmes comes out of retirement to help a young spy catcher find a spy working in a magic act.

Original Air Date: October 22, 1945

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EP0148: Let George Do It: The Little Man Who Was Everywhere

A wealthy woman who owns several tenaments hires George to protect her from a former tenant whose wife died in a needless fire. Police also suspect the man of setting a string of arsons of other properties George’s client owns, but George isn’t so sure.

Original Air Date: September 27, 1948

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EP0147: Jeff Regan: The Lady With No Name

Jack Webb

A woman stumbled into International’s office, not remembering her name, and dies. Who is she, and why did she die? It’s up to Regan to find out.

Original Air Date: September 25, 1948

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EP0146: Box 13: Death’s a Doll

Dan Holiday heads to the Bayous of Louisiana to investigate the case of a healthy man wasting away and expecting to die. Only one explanation is offered-witchcraft.

Original Air Date: July 21, 1948

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Bill Cosby’s Detective Show

One of the Google searches that hit the site recently was for “Bill Cosby Detective Show.” People remember Bill Cosby for his Comedy, particularly the ratings sensation, The Cosby Show. But, Bill Cosby did try his hand as a TV detective.

 

It was 1994 and Cosby’s first project after the end of the Cosby Show and his choice was the Cosby Mysteries which followed recently retired police officer, Guy Hanks as he found himself retired after a heart attack and winning the lottery on the same day, but still drawn back to serve as criminologist solving cases for the NYPD or occasionally private clients.

The mysteries were well-written with surprising twist and turns, and plenty of tension. The character of Guy Hanks was typical Cosby. There was always the light touches that are in most Cosby Characters (going back to Kelly Robinson in I Spy.)  He and Police Detective Adam Sully (played by James Naughton) had good chemistry. He also had a good sidekick in aspiring young criminologist, Dante (Mos Def.) Cosby as an elder mentor always make for good entertainment.

The show had some fantastic episodes. My favorite featured Douglas Adams (writer of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) as a husband who runs into Hanks at the Party and has a discussion about the art of murder because he’s about to murder his own wife, and Hanks has to stop him without leaving the party.  In another, his Cosby show wife, Phylicia Rashad played an old flame and competing criminologist.

It was a fun show that sadly lasted only for 19 episodes. There are a number of reasons why. Cosby pointed to the timeslot quipping that with the Cosby Mysteries, “The biggest mystery was when it was on.”

The show may simply have come too late. Cosby chose to make the show a character-driven detective story rather than using violence and sensationalism to gain ratings.  The PG Detective shows that had been popular through much of the 1970s and 1980s with TV shows like the Rockford Files, Quincy, and Magnum PI, were passing from the scene.

Matlock had been forced to jump networks from NBC to ABC in 1992. The 1990s saw CBS fail with a revival of Burke’s Law and later in the 1990s drew a blank with Buddy Faro. Angela Lansbury continued to have success with Murder She Wrote, though that would also disappear in 1996.

The TV mystery and cop series that would take to the air in the 1990s and since have tended to be more lurid and violent, and to really sell the show based on that. Of course, there are exceptions, but the PG detective show may be the hardest one to make today.

The Cosby Mysteries’ biggest problem may not have been that there was something wrong with the series but not enough right. Two truly sucessful PG Detective shows that each managed eight seasons on the air were Diagnosis Murder. (1993-2001) and Monk (2001-2009). Both shows succeeded by being more than detective shows. The quirky Mark Sloan and the Neurotic Adrian Monk made for shows that you didn’t have to be a mystery fan to enjoy, with plenty of comedy. In Diagnosis Murder’s case, they also made use of guest stars, bringing several old TV detectives back to television such as Mannix, Adam 12 co-stars Martin Milner and Kent McCord, and Andy Griffith as Matlock, after Matlock was cancelled by a second network.

The biggest problem with the Cosby Mysteries was that its creators didn’t understand that a good mystery wasn’t enough to hold an audience. Still, fans of good mysteries would do well to give the Cosby Mysteries a look if they see it on reruns. Unfortunately, the show has not been released on DVD.

EP0145: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Grave Digger’s Spade

Edmond O'Brien

Johnny is dispatched by an insurance company to dissuade a couple whose suicide clause is no longer in effect to not take their own lives.

Original Air Date: February 17, 1950

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EP0144: Sherlock Holmes: The Manor House Case

Holmes goes undercover disguised as a German official who was almost killed in a bomb attack. With Holmes out of site, Lestrade brings Dr. Watson in to help solve the bombing.

Original Air Date: October 15, 1945

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EP0143: Let George Do It: The Hearst was Painted Pink

 

*George finds himself bait when he’s forced to court the girlfriend of a dangerous mobster, so another dangerous mobster can kill him.

Original Air Date: September 20, 1948

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EP0142: Jeff Regan: The Story of Abel and Cain and the Santa Maria

*Jeff Regan is called in by the heir to a fortune when a family heirloom is stolen and the thieves haven’t called yet to ask for a ransom.

Original Air Date: September 11, 1948

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EP0141: Box 13: Hunt and Peck

Alan Ladd

Dan Holiday thinks a man on death row may be innocent, so he tries to bluff the real killer out of hiding.

Original Air Date: July 14, 1948

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