Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Burke's Law (1994)

I know I included an episode of the 1994 remake of Burke's Law when I did an overview of the series many moons ago, but I felt that I needed to revisit it.

To recap: Aaron Spelling served as a producer on the original Burke and its spin-off, Honey West, among his last projects for Four Star before starting his own company. Burke's Law may have been a crime drama at its core, but it was cast as if it were an anthology series, much like The Dick Powell Show or Spelling's later anthology hits, Hotel, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat.

By the mid-90's, Spelling had moved on to developing evening soaps like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, both for Fox. CBS came calling asking for a revival of Burke, thinking that the classic whodunit could work in a more modern setting. This might've been because ABC had revived the former NBC series, Columbo, as a series of TV-movies. NBC had also been the last home to another classic whodunit, Ellery Queen, and CBS' own Murder, She Wrote, was holding the fort on Sunday nights. The ratings convinced the network suits that another whodunit would bring the same results.

So what happened? Burke's Law was set up on Friday nights, which, if memory serves, was its original night when it aired on ABC. As we have seen, time and again, such schedule familiarity doesn't translate to long-term success the 2nd or 3rd time around.

This time around, Amos Burke (Gene Barry) is aided by his son, Peter (Peter Barton, ex-The Powers of Matthew Star), and still tools around in a Rolls Royce. Barry had appeared on Murder, as memory serves, and that might've been when CBS approached him about a Burke reboot.

In "Who Killed Mr. Game Show?", Peter Marshall, the original "Master of the Hollywood Squares", is cast against type as a television producer without a heart of gold. The cast also includes Lyle Waggoner (ex-Wonder Woman, The Carol Burnett Show), Richard Karn (Home Improvement, later a game show host in his own right in the revival of Family Feud), and Dom DeLuise.

I remember sitting down with my folks to watch, sometimes falling asleep. Not my fault. I would be exhausted after a long day at work. Have to see about the DVD release of this series........!

Rating: A.

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