Friday, July 26, 2013

What Might've Been: David Cassidy--Man Undercover (1978)

It had been 4 years since The Partridge Family ended, and David Cassidy had pretty much faded from the spotlight. He smartly passed on an animated version of Partridge that had bombed, and watched brother Shaun begin his rise to stardom on The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries. Someone convinced him that he could play a detective, too, so David landed a role on NBC's long-running anthology series, Police Story, which, like Partridge, was from Columbia Pictures Television (Now Sony Pictures Television). The end result was that Cassidy was spun off into his own series. Problem was, NBC could not find the right night for him.

David Cassidy--Man Undercover debuted as a mid-season replacement in November 1978, airing on Thursdays, but lasted just 10 episodes before NBC, then struggling to find a hit, pulled the plug. Cassidy reprised his Police Story role of undercover detective Dan Shay, but, sorry to say, even with a new hairstyle, he still looked too much like his earlier character of Keith Partridge. That, friends, may be what kept folks from tuning in. TV vet Simon Oakland (ex-Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Black Sheep Squadron) was his boss.

Here's a sample clip, including the open with a pretty bad theme song.

Never saw the show, so I can't fairly rate it.


magicdog said...

It's tough enough to be so well known for portraying one famous TV character and to try to make the audience believe you're playing a completely different character. Harder still when you were a teen idol on David Cassidy's level!

I never saw this show but I had heard of it. The opening credits seem to owe a lot to James Bond than anything else. Too bad the network bosses couldn't have let the show find an audience. Perhaps if the lead were played by someone newer to TV?

hobbyfan said...

NBC, as noted, was desperate for a hit of any kind. They thought that enough time had passed since Partridge Family had ended, but the series was in syndication at the time. Enough said there.

As I had indicated, this was a case of trying to exploit the success David's brother Shaun had enjoyed with the Hardy Boys, but that series had ended by the time Man Undercover came along.