Mark Shera (1976-80)
|Theme music composer||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||178|
|Executive producer(s)||Quinn Martin
|Running time||approx. 50 minutes|
|Original run||January 24, 1973 – September 4, 1980|
Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as father- and daughter-in-law who run a private detective firm in Los Angeles. A spin-off from Cannon, the show ran on CBS from January 28, 1973 to April 3, 1980, beginning as a midseason replacement. The character of Barnaby Jones was introduced in the episode "Requiem for a Son" in 1973, featuring special guest star William Conrad as Frank Cannon. The two-part episode "The Deadly Conspiracy" (1975) began on Cannon and concluded on Barnaby Jones.
After Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen) had worked as a private eye for many years, he decided to retire and left the business to his son Hal. When Hal was murdered while working on a case, Barnaby came out of retirement to find the killer. His widowed daughter-in-law, Betty Jones (Lee Meriwether) joined forces with him to solve the case. The two decided that they worked so well together that they would continue to keep the detective agency open. Jones was unusual, ordering milk in restaurants and bars, counter to the stereotypical hard drinking detective.
Until the cancellation of the series Cannon, the characters of both series moved back and forth between the two shows.
In 1976, the character of J. R., the son (Mark Shera) of Barnaby's cousin, joined the cast. He had come to try to solve the murder of his father, but stayed around to help Barnaby and Betty, while also attending law school.
During the first year of the series, a common theme would be where Jones would make an astute observation or collect a sample, such as mud on a car's tire. The criminal, in some cases, called his accomplice and had a conversation along the lines of "there's a Mr. Jones and he's asking a lot of questions," after which the criminal was assured that Jones would be "taken care of". In view of his advancing age – Ebsen was in his 60s for most of the series – Jones rarely engaged in fistfights in the climatic scene of a given episode; instead, anticipating a violent act from an adversary Jones would draw his revolver and get the drop on the villain, or he would use self-defense tactics — e.g., slamming the door on a shotgun-toting villain, or using a judo hold to subdue the bad guy — or relied on others, like J.R., or the police, to overpower and detain the criminals.
Toward the latter part of the series, as Ebsen aged and expressed an interest in slowing down a bit, Meriwether and Shera's characters became more prominent, allowing Ebsen to reduce his role; during the last two seasons, the episodes were divided evenly among the three actors, with Ebsen, Meriwether and Shera each being the focus of a third of the season's episodes.
The show was cancelled in 1980 due to low ratings among young viewers (much of the series' fanbase consisted of senior citizens); Ebsen had also finally had enough of playing the role. After the series' cancellation, reruns could be seen in syndication.
During the mid 1990s, Meriwether and Shera expressed interest in a Barnaby Jones reunion TV movie, but could not talk Ebsen into joining the project. However, in 1993, Ebsen reprised the role of Barnaby Jones in the big-screen remake of his most famous TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies. It would be his final theatrical appearance.
Among the guest stars who appeared over the years were Conlan Carter and Gary Lockwood, who appeared together in the third episode of the series entitled "Sunday: Doomsday" on February 25, 1973. Other guests, just in the first year alone, included:
Stefanie Powers, Wayne Rogers, William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Richard Anderson, Claude Akins, Carl Betz, Meredith Baxter Birney, Bill Bixby (Meriwether's real-life ex-classmate), Jack Cassidy, Geraldine Brooks, Richard Bull, Dabney Coleman, Jackie Coogan, Glenn Corbett, Cathy Lee Crosby, Meg Foster, Robert Foxworth, Anne Francis, Lynda Day George, Richard Hatch, James Hong, Claudia Jennings, Lenore Kasdorf, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis, Ida Lupino, Roddy McDowell, George Maharis, Read Morgan, Nick Nolte, Joan Tompkins, and Jessica Walter.
In later seasons, guest stars included Wayne Maunder, formerly on CBS's Lancer western series, and Ron Hayes, who played Sheriff Oscar Hamlin in the episode "Target for a Wedding". Marshall Colt, later cast with James Arness on McClain's Law, guest starred in two episodes in 1979.
Many familiar actors made guest appearances, and others who were newcomers went on to become well-known, including: Susan Dey, Gail Edwards, Shelley Fabares, Morgan Fairchild, Ed Flanders, Mark Goddard, Larry Hagman, Linda Harrison, David Hedison, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Don Keefer, Vera Miles, Patrick O'Neal Sean Penn, Daniel J. Travanti, Joan Van Ark, Carl Weathers, Robert Webber, and James Woods, among many others.
Buddy Ebsen's real-life daughter, Bonnie Ebsen, and Lee Meriwether's real-life daughter, Kyle Aletter-Oldham, made a cameo appearance in one episode. Future Trapper John M.D. stars, Pernell Roberts, Gregory Harrison and Charles Siebert all made guest appearances on one episode. Future WKRP in Cincinnati stars, Loni Anderson and Gary Sandy made guest appearances as well.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Date|
|Season One||13||February 16, 2010|
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2007)|
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