Sunday, April 13, 2014

Classic (?) TV: The Felony Squad (1966)

In the fall of 1966, 20th Century Fox sold a pair of crime dramas to ABC that were as different as night & day. The one everyone knows, of course, was an adaptation of The Green Hornet, from William Dozier's Greenway production company. Ended up being the last series Dozier would get on the air, and lasted one season.

The other was The Felony Squad, more of a traditional crime drama focusing on police work. Howard Duff (ex-Dante), who starred as Sam Spade on radio, was another guy named Sam---Sam Stone, a detective with the major crimes unit of an unnamed West Coast city's police department. Stone was mentoring his partner, Jim Briggs (Dennis Cole), whose father (Ben Alexander, ex-Dragnet) was also on the force.

Felony Squad lasted 2 1/2 seasons, cancelled in January 1969 after the series was shifted from Mondays to Fridays, a risky and, ultimately, fatal scheduling decision. Duff made a cameo appearance as Stone on Batman in one of those "window cameos", and later teamed with wife Ida Lupino to ham it up in a 3rd season episode of that series.

Alexander doubled as a technical advisor on the series, likely drawing on his experiences from working on Dragnet. Here's the open:

Dennis Cole would move on to NBC's Bracken's World, then to a 1-year wonder for ABC, teaming with William Shatner in The Barbary Coast, in 1975, before turning his attention to directing. Ben Alexander passed away a few months after Squad ended, and it would be a long while before Howard Duff landed another TV gig (Flamingo Road). Too bad this series has been buried in Fox's vaults.

Rating: B.

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