Before there was Murder, She Wrote, Levinson and Link came up with this version of Ellery Queen, which aired for, unfortunately, only one season (1975-76). Jim Hutton and David Wayne made a perfect pairing as Ellery and his crusty father, Inspector Queen. Hutton’s Queen was smart and wryly charming, seeming to take forever to get where he was going but always getting there ahead of the criminal. Wayne’s Inspector was a perfect tart compliment to his laid-back son. Set in the late 1940s, the program captured the style of ’40s films with vintage clothes and cars, while centering the mysteries on radio programs, newspaper reporters, private eyes, corruption, and mysterious curses. In this case, backlot filming isn’t really a drawback, rather it captures the feel of the sets in those B-movie treasures. It was fun to see actors from the golden era like Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, Farely Granger, Geraldine Brooks, Eve Arden, Jim Backus, Rhonda Fleming, Signe Hasso, Donald O’ Connor, Robert Alda and Dane Clark do their turns. Just as much fun was catching more contemporary performers don forties garb and enter the world of classic mystery, some on the way to later, greater things: David Hedison (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), June Lockhart (Lost in Space), Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek), Ross Martin (Wild, Wild West), Murray Hamilton (Jaws), and Bette White (Mary Tyler Moore, Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) – to name a few. A preMagnum John Hillerman, as Ellery’s rival, radio detective Simon Brimmer, is an especial treat. And that Henry Mancini theme is swing at its best, with the pouncing beat of a mysterious stalker! Fortunately, this series is on dvd.
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