Sunday, May 4, 2014

Classic TV: The FBI (1965)

The F. B. I. was Quinn Martin's most successful series, lasting 9 seasons (1965-74), co-produced with Warner Bros.' TV arm. It was appointment television at home on Sundays growing up, but sometimes we'd switch out for The Wonderful World of Disney if F. B. I. was a rerun.

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (ex-77 Sunset Strip), a long time contract player at WB, was cast as Inspector Lewis Erskine, based out of Washington, as you could probably tell from the familiar opening & closing to the show. Zimbalist & Philip Abbott were the only series regulars to appear throughout the 9 years the show was on the air. I think that part of the reason it took so long before he landed another series gig was because he might've felt typecast, after playing a detective on 77 Sunset Strip, followed by F. B. I.. For whatever reason, though, this was one of the shows that got me interested as a youth in the prospect of a career in law enforcement, one dream that went unfulfilled.

Here, Zimbalist is on location in Virginia for a promo prior to the first season:

But here's the open that we all know, taken from the series opener, with guest star Jeffrey Hunter.

In 1982, ABC tried out a new version, Today's F. B. I., with a new set of characters, and starring Mike Connors (ex-Mannix). Same night as the earlier series, but from a different studio. It was, I think, the last series that David Gerber would produce for Columbia Pictures Television. We'll look at that another day.

The F. B. I. merits an A.

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