The case of the missing TV series has finally been cracked, but why Ellery Queen
lasted only one season (1975-76) and fell into obscurity is a real mystery. Based on the evidence in this six-disc set, this loving homage to the classic murder mystery created by Richard Levinson and William Link was, like their Columbo
and Murder, She Wrote
, nonviolent and intelligent television of the first order. Set in the 1940s, Ellery Queen
stars boyishly charming Jim Hutton, one of the screen's most likable leading men, as the famed mystery writer and sleuth who helps his father, Inspector Richard Queen (David Wayne), solve the most baffling of cases. The pleasures this series affords are anything but guilty. Each intriguing episode begins with the preview of a murder, a roundup of the suspects (Was it the jealous wife? The dictatorial director?), and an irresistible challenge to viewers to "match wits with Ellery Queen and see if you can guess whodunit." Before revealing the killer, Ellery breaks the fourth wall to ask if we amateur sleuths at home have the mystery figured out, offering last-minute clues such as, "Once you figure out how, you'll know who." As with Burke's Law
, each episode of Ellery Queen
is packed with enough Hollywood legends, venerable character actors, and TV faves to fill The Love Boat
. "The Adventure of Veronica's Veils" features George Burns as the victim ("I didn't die of natural causes," he announces via a filmed presentation following his demise), William Demarest, Don Porter, comedian Jack Carter, Hayden Rorke (Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie
), and John Hillerman in his recurring role as radio detective Simon Brimmer, forever trying to one-up Queen. Queen himself makes it a point "to be observant and pay attention to details," particularly for that "dying clue which makes absolutely no sense." You'd be advised to do the same. The intricately plotted stories turn on the most arcane of clues and circumstances, as in the pilot episode "Too Many Suspects," in which solving a fashion designer's murder hinges on the reenactment of a TV news broadcast (maybe that explains the one-season run). An interview with Link, not very lively, but interesting, is included as a bonus feature. --Donald Liebenson
From the creators of Columbo
and Murder, She Wrote
… Match wits with Ellery Queen (Jim Hutton) in all 22 digitally restored, uncut and unedited episodes of this classic NBC series following the exploits of the famed writer as he assists his father, Inspector Richard Queen (David Wayne), in solving the mysteries that baffle the New York City police force.
Guest Stars include: Don Ameche, Dana Andrews, Tom Bosley, George Burns, Joan Collins, Troy Donahue, Anne Francis, Eva Gabor, Larry Hagman, June Lockhart, Robert Loggia, Roddy McDowall, Ed McMahon, Sal Mineo, Donald O'Connor, Dean Stockwell, Dick Van Patten, Vincent Price, Cesar Romero, Betty White, and many more!