Customer Reviews: Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: The Complete Series - all 30 uncut episodes
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NBC-TV's 87TH PRECINCT's one-season run may have been the result of having to compete against CBS's THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW and its spinoff, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. Thirty episodes of "87th" aired between 9/25/61 and 4/30/62. Reruns continued until September and then it vanished, seemingly forever. This DVD release of such an obscurity is quite astonishing, and it gives us TV cop show fans a chance to see what might've been: a long, successful run, if only...

Based on the novels of Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain), the precinct is located in an area of a fictional town that's much like Manhattan. Regular cast members: Robert Lansing (Det. Steve Carella), Ron Harper (Det. Bert Kling), Norman Fell (Det. Meyer Meyer) and Gregory Walcott (Det. Roger Havilland).

Dawn Wells (#18) played Mary Ann on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Alvy Moore (#14, #25) was scatterbrained Hank Kimball on GREEN ACRES. Billy Halop (#3) was the original leader of the DEAD END Kids. Frank Sutton (#19) played Sgt. Carter on GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C. Al Ruscio (#26) bought the 12th Precinct's building, thus ending the 8 season run of BARNEY MILLER. Ross Martin (#6) was Artemus Gordon on THE WILD WILD WEST. John Fiedler (#20) was henpecked Mr. Peterson on THE BOB NEWHART SHOW and Piglet in Winnie the Pooh cartoons. John Astin (#21) played Gomez on THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Nancy Davis (#21) is the widow of Pres. Reagan. Nancy Kulp (#23) was Miss Hathaway on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Dal McKennon (#5, #28) was the cartoon voice of Gumby and Woody Woodpecker's Buzz Buzzard. Ellen Corby (#22) played Grandma on THE WALTONS.

87TH PRECINCT: Season One--

The Floater (debut - 9/25/61) - Gena Rowlands/Robert Culp/Natalie Norwick/Paul Bryar/Terry Gekler/Wally Brown
Lady in Waiting (#2 - 10/2/62) - Gena Rowlands/Margarita Cordova/Constance Ford/Emile Meyer
Lady Killer (#3 - 10/9/61) - Peter Leeds/Vito Scotti/Billy Halop/Lee Kreiger/Michael Fox/Roger Mobley
The Modus Man (#4 - 10/16/61) - Eddie Quillan/John Anderson/Sheila Bromley/Jean Engstrom/Joe Higgins
Line of Duty (#5 - 10/23/61) - Anita Sands/Walter Burke/ Vivi Janiss/John Clarke Bowman/Dal McKennon
Operation: Citizen (#6 - 10/30/61) - Gena Rowlands/Ross Martin/J. Pat O'Malley/Edward G. Robinson Jr./Jack Carol
Killer's Payoff (#7 - 11/6/61) - Jack Albertson/Beverly Garland/Paul Richards/Jeanne Cooper/William Fawcett
The Guilt (#8 - 11/13/61) - Norma Crane/Mike Kellin
Empty Hours (#9 - 11/20/61) - Pat Crowley/William Schallert/Tom Fadden/Hank Brandt/Grandon Rhodes
My Friend, My Enemy (#10 - 11/27/61) - Dennis Hopper/Jocelyn Brando/Anne Whitfield/Stephen Mines
Very Hard Sell (#11 - 12/4/61) - Leonard Nimoy/Alice Frost/Tom Greenway/Peter Helm
Til Death (#12 - 12/11/61) - Darryl Hickman/Steven Geray/Johnny Seven/Judi Meredith/Naoni Stevens/Corey Allen
Heckler (#13 - 12/18/61) - Robert Vaughn/Wally Cassell/Mary LaRoche/Joseph V. Perry
Run, Rabbit, Run (#14 - 12/25/61) - Dave Barry/Alfred Ryder/Alvy Moore/Barbara Stuart/Ken Lynch/Chris Alcaide
Main Event (#15 - 1/1/62) - Myron McCormick/Arch Johnson/Brad Weston/Maggie Pierce/Robert Carricart/Nesdon Booth
Man in a Jam (#16 - 1/8/62) - Lin McCarthy/Joseph Walsh/Robert Sampson/Sheila Bromley/Paul Genge
Give the Boys a Great Big Hand (#17 - 1/15/62) - Michael Forest/Roxanne Arlen/Asa Maynor/Barry Atwater
Out of Order (#18 - 1/22/62) - Dawn Wells/Charles Robinson/Paul E. Burns/Scotty Morrow
The Pigeon (#19 - 1/29/62) - Peter Falk/Roxane Berard/Frank Sutton/Arthur Batanides/Morgan Woodward
A Bullet for Katie (#20 - 2/12/62) - Della Sharman/John Fiedler/Ed Nelson/Patty Ann Gerrity/Harold J. Stone
King's Ransom (#21 - 2/19/62) - Nancy Davis/John Astin/Anthony Carbone/Charles McGraw/Dan Tobin
Feel of the Trigger (#22 - 2/26/62) - Ellen Corby/Ted De Corsia/Renata Vanni/Jerry Hausner/Bernie Hamilton
Killer's Choice (#23 - 3/5/62) - Rosemary DeCamp/Gloria Talbott/R.G. Armstrong/Nancy Kulp/Sidney Clute
Square Cop (#24 - 3/12/62) - Lee Tracy/Gene Roth/James Hong/Faye Michael Nuell/Jack Hogan
Step Forward (#25 - 3/26/62) - Alvy Moore/Ruth Storey/Ray Teal/Philip Bourneuf
Idol in the Dust (#26 - 4/2/62) - Jeanette Nolan/Al Ruscio/Paddi Edwards/Michael Dante/Joseph Mell
Ramon (#27 - 4/9/62) - Danny Bravo/Willis Bouchey/Edward Colmans/Alex Montoya/Jess Kirkpatrick
New Man in the Precinct (#28 - 4/16/62) - Jack Albertson/Dal McKennon/Joe Downing/Robert Colbert
The Last Stop (#29 - 4/23/62) - Victor Jory/Marya Stevens/Charles Tannen
Girl in the Case (final episode - 4/30/62) - Bill Erwin/Janis Paige/Jerry Paris/Joan Staley/Addison Richards
22 comments|41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 28, 2012
I was happy to read about the upcoming release of the "87th. Precinct" tv series, one of the many outstanding b/w, noirish police dramas from that period. This well-done series was based on the series of books by "Ed McBain," the pseudonym of novelist/screenwriter Evan Hunter. (I met McBain/Hunter at a signing for a new 87th. Precinct novel years ago. I don't think most of the people there knew of the writer's double-identity. While most asked him about the new book, I asked him why the birds attacked Bodega Bay, since Hunter was the screenwriter for my favorite Hitchcock film: "The Birds" He seemed amused by my question.)
87th. Precinct ran for one season, (1961-1962,) Monday nights at 9 on NBC. It was prematurely cancelled by NBC the same day as the show that followed it: the classic Boris Karloff-hosted suspense drama: "Thriller." Too bad, as they were two excellent series.
87th Precinct had an excellent cast that went on to bigger things. Three years later the star, Robert Lansing, gave one of tv's great performances in the first season of the magnificent World War II drama: "12 O'Clock High." (Lansing was let go by producer Quinn Martin after the first season and viewers were told that his character, General Frank Savage had been shot down.) Co-starring as Lansing's wife was Gena Rowlands who went onto a thriving film career including an Academy Award nomination. The rest of the police squad were Norman Fell, (later "Mr Roper" of "Threes Company,) Ron Harper( who later starred in the World War II "Dirty Dozen" ripoff "Garrisons Gorillas" and the quickly cancelled "Planet of the Apes" tv series,) and Gregory Walcott, immortalized as the hero of Ed Wood Jr's "Plan Nine of Outer Space," considered by many to be the worst film ever made. (Walcott starred in this before 87th. Precinct.)
Considering Timeless Video's checkered history of quality on these classic series, I hope that this set is of the caliber of another one season, outstanding NBC series "Wide Country." I have gotten through at least half of the episodes on that set and the quality has been quite good (unlike the very disappointing quality of the "Checkmate" set, one of my favorite series of all-time but a set very difficult to watch and enjoy due to the mediocre quality and poor editing of many scenes.)
In conclusion, 87th. Precinct was a quality dramatic series, the type we rarely see anymore. I look forward to purchasing this set when it is released.
77 comments|44 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Never mind that it's in black and white, from the early 1960s, with no special effects to speak of. It follows some of the McBain novels pretty closely and gives a nice feel for the gritty city which was a character in his 87th Precinct series. The cast is better than average; quite a few went on to notable careers. Robert Lansing is a bit more macho than the Steve Carella portrayed in the books, but it works well enough. There is some of the snarky humor, toned down for the censors but present to leaven the grim tales of murder and the like. Similarly, gruesome details are edited out - a very pleasant change from today's guaranteed bloodbaths and forensic details. If you haven't read any of the police procedurals, though, this series might not hold you in its grip, compared with later gems like "Hill Street Blues". If you're already familiar with the 87th Precinct, especially the earliest books in the series, you will really enjoy these DVDs.
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on May 7, 2013
Thank goodness this was released! I enjoy older shows- sometimes its nostalgia but mostly they are just better. The ones before I was born have no nostalgia so I just hope they are good on their own. This one has great acting and characters and interesting stories. I love to turn out the lights and watch it before has a little film noir feel sometimes. I 'ge been running out of shows lately and this fit the bill, not quite Naked City but just as good in a different way.

I sure hope they continue to release old shows!
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on January 10, 2013
"87th Precinct" surprised me.

I was kind of surprised to find that this series existed. Even though it originally aired when I was in third-grade I was a sickeningly media-savvy child ( Yes, THAT kid) and would have remembered this show had I ever come across it earlier in my life.

Never heard of it until the title popped up in Amazon'z recommendations for me one day.

Ed McBain 87th Precinct books kind of snuck up on me as well. In an odd twist of timing I was introduced to Sgt Steve Carella and company on September 12th, 2001 (the day after 9/11). That first "87th Precinct" story involved a bomb and I spent the entire time reading it with a slightly creeped-out feeling.

An off-balance feeling persists all the way through these episodes as well. "87th Precinct" never really quite decides if wants to be a police procedural or "two-fisted" pulp adventure. Maybe Joe Friday schooled me too rigidly through all those "Dragnet" episodes but I get a little nervous at Carella and company with their slightly casual attitude towards the chain of custody (of evidence) their collective tendency to work solo and emotional reactions that skew slightly further to the "melodrama" setting on the emo-meter.

I was also slightly disappointed that the character of Fat Ollie is omitted as well. It would have been interesting to see who would have been cast as the eating-burping-sniffing-farting-bigoted-and-slightly-shady cop that everyone loved to hate.

None of which is a deal-breaker. As "THAT kid" I may be technically correct about details, but any deficiency is more than made up for by incredible McBain writing and Robert Lansing's uber-cool manner. I might also add that repetitive use of the word "slight" this review is intentional - just to emphasize that any flaws in the show are so minor that they don't really count. If you like polic shows - and classic early Sixties drama - you'll enjoy this series more than just a little bit.
22 comments|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 13, 2012
87th Precinct was a show that was aired in 1961 for one season in black and white. It ran for 30 episodes which would be two seasons nowadays.It starred Robert Lansing,who was the Mysterious Mr Seven on the second season finale of "Star Trek".Also in the cast is Gregory Walcott seen as a heavy in many western series like "Bonanza", Norman Fell who would go on to play another detective alongside Burt Reynolds in "Dan August" before ending up as Mr Roper on the TV series "Three's Company".
Ron Harper is also here from "Garrison's Gorilla's" and the TV version of "Planet of the Apes". Gena Rowlands plays the deaf mute wife of Robert Lansing.She only appears in a few episodes though.I guess they didn't know what to do with her character.
Not a lot of big name guest stars here apart from Robert Culp ( I Spy ) Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) Robert Vaughan (The Man from UNCLE ) Peter Falk (Columbo ) Robert Colbert (The Time Tunnel ).
This is a well produced series of cop drama's with entertaining stories. I had never seen this series before but was curious to see what it was all about. I was pleased I did.
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on September 10, 2012
The 87th Precinct DVD's are delightful. I am so happy that quality, classic TV shows are still being released. I reccomend this show for all who love 60's well written and gritty police shows.
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on July 7, 2012
If you like Dragnet, you'll love this series. Perfection! Ed McBain is a master! I bought this series, and watched every episode and could see the books coming to life.
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on February 25, 2013
What's so good about this collection of episodes from 1960-61? Well, the acting ensemble, led by Robert Lansing as Steve Carella and including Gina Rowlands as his wife Teddy, is top flight. And it doesn't hurt to have guests like Robert Culp dropping by. The plots, some scripted by McBain, are tight and suspenseful. Eight are adaptations of the author's novels. One of them, King's Ransom, not only was the basis for Akira Kurosawa's classic movie High and Low, its plot twist has been adopted by nearly every crime series to appear thereafter. The shows are well-directed. And, as best I can tell, they've been collecting dust for more than fifty years. It's great that somebody got the bright idea to let us take a look.
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on July 4, 2014
I remember this series from the original broadcasts and was always impressed by the quality of stories and the acting skill of the ensemble cast: Robert Lansing, Gena Rowland, Ron Harper, Gregory Wallcot, and Norman Fell, all of whom went on to have fine careers in television and movies. The stories were well done without being shoot 'em up, bloody. or overly/overtly sexy. This is one series I am happy to have in my DVD library. The characters are strong and well developed. Here, again, is a showcase for a stable of young actors early in their careers. All I can say is enjoy stories for story sake without distractions of high explosives and unnecessary car chases so prevelant today.
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