on May 17, 2012
One reason might be because season 7 is one of the best seasons of "Mannix." And, we finally have it back, with 16 of its 24 episodes not aired in the US since '73-'74 because they, along with all of seasons 1 and 8, were not included in the US syndication packages.
I've said elsewhere (see the "Mannix is Coming!" thread on [...] that if I was forced to be on a desert island with only one season of "Mannix," this could well be the season I'd choose -- and, believe me, it would be a difficult choice. Each season of "Mannix" has a tone all its own, while always being true to its main themes of toughness, individuality and sacrifice blended with gentle good grace and humor. Each season has special moments to savor.
As of this writing, let's assume that CBS/Paramount will continue to do the right thing by "Mannix" and not only release the entire series, at long last, but also continue to give us high quality DVDs with the digitally re-mastered episodes packaged in beautiful menus that capture the spirit of the show. Thanks CBS/Paramount! And the fact that these episodes are uncut means that what you get with these DVDs is what the series was meant to be -- a singular character study with subtle but oh so graceful character relationships revealed, often in very small nuances.
In season 7 is an episode where Art Malcolm gets married ("A Night Full of Darkness") -- a lot happens in there that sounds like so much less on the surface than it winds up being on screen. And you also get the last season of Adam Tobias -- presumably Robert Reed's absence from the final season of "Mannix" (season 8) had something to do with his not showing up to the filming of the last episode of "The Brady Bunch." Season 7 of "Mannix" coincided with season 5 of "The Brady Bunch" and both were Paramount productions. Notice how Robert Reed seemed to actually want to do "Mannix" though.
Loyal "Mannix" viewers are especially rewarded in the subtle evolution of the interaction between Joe and Peggy. They have some of their best scenes of the entire series in season 7. And no, they never did "do it" -- not in this season or any other. Well, we don't really know what happened during the commercial breaks... And, I checked, but President Obama was born before the series began -- according to his birth certificate anyway.
"Mannix" was both timeless in its themes as well as way ahead of its time.
Season 7 epitomizes why "Mannix" is such a special show. Shows about one main, mythological character have the biggest problem staying fresh over a long run because the character, already larger than life, has to somehow become ever larger in order to stay compelling. Season 7 of "Mannix" addressed the problem by putting Joe in lots of physical peril. He survives a plane crash ("Climb a Deadly Mountain"), being shot in the side by a gang and left on the streets ("The Gang's All Here"), and being knocked unconscious and then shot to the point of actually being presumed dead and being taken to the morgue ("The Dark Hours"), diverted only at the last moment. On the surface, just looking at the episode descriptions -- surviving a plane crash and even seemingly raising Joe Mannix from the dead in one of them -- this might seem to be the "jumping the shark" year for "Mannix" (for those unfamiliar with this term, consult Wikipedia -- with the "Happy Days" explanation). But, instead of going too far, "Mannix" does what it always does -- finds the sweet spot between larger than life myth and reality -- and it just gets better.
Consider "The Dark Hours," the episode that finds Joe barely alive after being shot with his own gun, complete with Art Malcolm finding him dumped down a hillside, declared dead and hauled up the hillside with a sheet over him, only to be diverted from the morgue at the last minute. This stuff all happens in the first few minutes of the episode. From those first few minutes it sounds like "Mannix" went too far -- surely it's jumping the shark. And yet, that episode winds up being great. The shocking stuff is preliminary stuff -- not there for shock value alone, but to set up something much better. Most of the episode has Joe lying there in a hospital bed, trying to recollect what happened the night before (an excellent chance for Mike Connors to act with only his eyes -- something he was superb at in "Mannix"). Forget for a moment the theme where you could say Joe rises from the dead -- if that isn't enough of a present-day setting for a larger than life myth for you. What you get to see is Joe on the edge of survival, trying to piece things together -- and he winds up helping someone else with whatever he's got left in him. I don't know of too many other shows -- and maybe there are no other shows -- that can consistently depict that kind of "higher form of love" and never look corny or cheap. And "Mannix" manages to convey the same kind of message in at least two other episodes of season 7 alone -- ones that are so beautifully done that they can be watched over and over again.
Maybe that is why that man is smiling -- because he has managed to reconcile such timeless themes so well with a present-day setting, making the struggle behind it all seem so appealing, even stylish.
on July 2, 2012
There will only ever be one Joe Mannix, and thankfully no one has ever had the stupid idea of doing a revival of the series, unlike the idiocy now called Hawaii Five-O. Mike Connors would not have it, and I think part of it is due to the emmense respect he had for his co-star Gail Fisher. Joe and Peggy are really iconic characters. Others tried to duplicate the on camera chemistry these two had, Remington Steele, and others, but failed miserably. Mannix had powerful writers, and a brilliant director as well. And the stories are timeless. I would rather watch a dvd of a Mannix episode, than about 90% of the garbage the networks are jamming down our throats right now. Season 7 was only partially rerun once, and not in all parts of the country. It is a real treat to bre able to see this season again, let alone own it, as the guest stars and stories are brilliant. Season 6 and 7 were always my favorites of the show, not that I didn't love the others, but these two seasons were great. This was by far the best detective show on tv at the time, and more than likely always will be. CBS had the two best shows at the time, the original Hawaii Five-O, and Mannix. Nothing has ever come close to what this show was. Yes there was violence, but far less than todays shows with sub machine guns, and uzis and cars being blown up at every turn of the corner. But the show also had a story as well. And you were glued from the beginning to the end. Mannix had a way of keeping your attention, and always knew when to throw in a curve, so that you would have to keep watching. It really is a shame that todays writers have no clue what the audience wants, and keeps writing for the the 17-27 year old crowd. The greats don't want to get invovled with half the nonsense that is on tv now, and also shows that go to the big screen. Perfect example is Mission Impossible. Tom Cruise is no more believable as the IMF leader as is the current McGarrett on the current Hawaii Five-O. It is no wonder Peter Graves turned the role of Phelps down in the first movie, when he found out that Phelps was being made the villain. Compared to Peter Graves, Tom Cruise leaves a lot to be desired. Which is probably why Mike Connors refuses to let anyone touch this show, while he is alive. I know that I would not watch any remake of Mannix, since it will never come close to the original. Todays writers just can't pull a show like this off. Season 7 was worth the wait, and now I am already looking forward to Season 8.
on April 27, 2013
I first discovered Mannix during this season of its original prime time run on CBS (channel 2, NY) nearly 40 years ago. I have eagerly anticipated the release of the show on DVD and have faithfully collected and watched, in sequence, every season since the first was released several years ago. Overall, I have enjoyed the run immensely.
As of this writing I am a few episodes away from completing Season Seven. For the most part it has been great. After a somewhat mundane Season Six, writing and plots have noticeably stepped up a notch. For those who have never, ever seen these episodes, either because the show was before your time or perhaps because it didn't interest you until it returned from oblivion via 1990's cable tv syndication, I can assure you that THIS season is definitely worth watching.
I won't spoil any story twists or turns for those Mannix fans who enjoy the discovery process as much as I. Let me just say that the Joe we've grown so fond of is in TOP form this season: he's as suave, truth-seeking, quick-thinking, tough-talking, risk-taking, crack shooting and death-dodging as ever. Don't take my word for it; simply sit back and indulge such segments as (in no particular order) "A World Without Sundays", "Search in the Dark", "The Deadly Madonna", "Mask for a Charade", "All the Dead Were Strangers", "The Gang's All Here", "Climb A Deadly Mountain", "A Night Full of Darkness", "A Rage to Kill" & "The Dark Hours".
For me, the aforementioned are the season's standouts, looming tall among the most memorable segments of the entire eight seasons. (With the caveat that I still have three episodes and a whole season left to go. Hence, I reserve the right to make amendments!)
A key criterion for my citing a particular episode is how well it demonstrates or tests a major facet of Joe Mannix' character, most of all:
-his tenacity (as "Search in the Dark" illustrates);
-his loyalty ("Mask for a Charade" & especially "A Night Full of Darkness", which features a RARE focus on Mannix' closest male friend Lieutenant Art Malcolm);
-his extraordinary stamina & resilience (best epitomized by "The Gang's All Here" and "The Dark Hours").
The other key criterion is how unique an episode can be without straying so far from established conventions as to make it totally incongruous. One such example is "The Deadly Madonna". This segment successfully blends mystery with elements of horror, something seldom attempted never mind accomplished in a detective show. So as not to give too much away, I will simply mention that here a client's very sanity is placed into question. In and of itself, not a particularly unusual theme even for this series. The fragility of the mind has been a topic on several occasions, including one noteworthy prior season finale where Mannix' own mental stability was cast into serious doubt. But this time a slightly more visceral approach is taken, marked by violent, grisly imagery that borders on the macabre. The pivotal scenes are so stark, they stick in your mind. At least, they stuck in MY very young mind upon seeing them way back in their initial 1973 airing! [And I can't resist mentioning that a guest star is the then-very-lovely and statuesque Barbara Babcock, one of my all-time favorite character actresses of that era.] Of all the episodes I've revisited, this is perhaps the one I anticipated the most. I wanted to see how accurate my memory of those scenes was. I'm happy to say that after four decades it came pretty darn close! I'm also glad the powers-that-be saw fit not to CUT those scenes, which would definitely have tainted the experience!
...which brings me to the negative part of my review, and the reason why this dvd package gets only four stars instead of five. [WARNING: ANGRY DISCOURSE FOLLOWS.]
You see, I detest being cheated. Why do I say cheated? Because it is a pure TRAVESTY for studios to release dvd packages containing CUT programming, especially at high list prices! At average FIFTY BUCKS SUGGESTED RETAIL, the least those s.o.b.'s could do is present the FULL, UNCUT episodes as originally broadcast!
But let me back up a bit, and explain how I know episodes have been cut and why it even matters. I've partially addressed the why, so I'll get into the how and then circle back around. If you can make it thru these next several paragraphs I promise to try to make the payoff worth enduring my little rant.
For starters, on the back cover of this dvd case, near the bottom below the package specs, is a VERY TINY blurb--- so tiny, the average forty-plus-something would never notice it. It reads: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions."
It is a very important thing to point out. If this is news to you, and you're a serious collector who takes pride in having truly accurate and complete TV season sets in your collection, then I STRONGLY URGE you to start looking out for this blurb! Check your existing season sets and DEFINITELY any potential future purchases. The blurb typically appears in the same place, directly above or below the program technical specs near the very bottom of the back cover. I USUALLY look for it on any TV series season release, especially later seasons. And whenever I see it I tend to steer clear, waiting until I can find the set at a ROCK BOTTOM PRICE before even CONSIDERING purchasing the item. (Obviously I didn't follow my own advice this time out!)
The part of that blurb I want to focus on is the phrase "MAY BE", which I believe is included only in case its absence might deter any STICKLERS FOR COMPLETION, like myself, from spending a thin dime on whichever dvd packages, cd's, movies and similar mass market media should contain it. (Not all of them do.) To put it bluntly, "MAY BE", as applied in this context, is merely a euphemism for "ARE/IS". Take it from someone who has watched a whole lot of programs and encountered this many times: if the package says some material "MAY BE" EDITED (in other words, CUT), then you can bet it IS! The studios just don't want to say so outright, because they fear - with good reason! - that such an admission could "CUT" into their sales!
Think about it: suppose the package touted what it actually contained? Would YOU rush to snatch up a dvd package presented as "Mannix, the Edited and Abridged Seventh Season"? Would YOU plunk down forty to fifty of your hard-earned dollars for a disc set which had printed anywhere on its cover a large, bold, clearly legible statement that read: "Episodes have been snipped down to fit the generic, cookie-cutter disc space we allot for today's mass market packages in order to save manufacturing resources and thereby help to maximize corporate profits"?
Or would you think twice, and turn your attention toward something else, like, say, "Las Vegas, Season Whatever, UNCUT AND UNCENSORED", which by the way costs the same or much less?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not by any means comparing Mannix to Las Vegas, which I happen to also like but which frankly isn't in the same ballpark. That notwithstanding, I feel much better purchasing, at a discount price to boot, something uncut and uncensored vs. something that has been edited down and not even presented as such except in very subtle ways.
Like for instance: has anyone else out there noticed how fewer and fewer tv series releases lately, especially of classic shows, say "the COMPLETE season"? ANOTHER very subtle HINT that what you're getting isn't quite what you would expect is the ABSENCE of the word COMPLETE. Semantics? "MAY-BE"... but probably not!
Because to say something is complete would imply, after all, that its contents actually are complete. That's technically a lie if some content has been edited/cut. So to avoid that pitfall, studios simply OMIT the word COMPLETE, ensconce a vague disclaimer that some content MAY BE EDITED, and voila, they're covered! That way there's absolutely no grounds for accusing them of product misrepresentation because they NEVER SAID the episodes were UNCUT, NOR did they say the season was COMPLETE!
But if you think I'm arguing something meaningless or trivial, and if you remain unconvinced of how I know scenes from episodes of this particular dvd set have been cut, then let me reiterate what I said in the very beginning: I watched most of Mannix Season Seven back when it first aired.
As with "The Deadly Madonna" there are scenes from a number of these episodes that I remember. There's one from the episode "Silent Target" that I vividly remember - from its original '73 broadcast as well as from syndication on TV Land - WHICH DOES NOT APPEAR AT ALL ON THIS DVD VERSION. The editing is clever; I actually didn't catch it the first time I watched. It wasn't until afterward that I realized something was sorely amiss. I KNEW that scene was supposed to be there, but I didn't remember seeing it this time. So to be sure, I replayed the dvd version. And lo and behold, to my utter dismay, THE SCENE ISN'T THERE! It's been CUT OUT! Though very brief (only a few seconds), it alas happens to be one of those etched in my mind since childhood, so its absence disturbs me. And just like that, I feel as though I've been hoodwinked.
[And please note, I'm deliberately not giving scene details to avoid prematurely revealing a major plot point. If you want the specifics, write me a comment and I'll gladly share them.]
Moreover, there are occasions during other episodes when scenes seem to end a bit too abruptly; where, for example, a verbal exchange between characters does not conclude as it naturally would or an action scene feels as though it's supposed to last a tad longer. Those kinds of things. You watch enough stuff and you develop an instinct for when and where things are missing, especially if you've seen them before! Sometimes the editing is obvious, other times not, but there IS NO QUESTION that it has been done.
Now to some people, especially those who've never seen ANY version of these episodes, this might be a minor issue. But to me it's MAJOR. Why? Besides the principle of preserving the integrity of a piece of pop culture (and charging appropriate prices when NOT doing so), it has to do partly with nostalgia and partly with a sense of validation and satisfaction.
Nostalgia is something most of us who've lived long enough can understand. It consists of precious reminders of happier, simpler periods in our lives (mainly childhood). Or memories of key moments shared with family & friends long gone. Or pastimes once enjoyed. Mannix the TV Series is such for me.
Further, it's kind of an anchor to the increasingly distant past. The older I grow, the more vague and inaccurate my memories of those years become. The older the memories, the fuzzier and harder to retain they are. But the more pleasant & significant they are, the greater the desire to retain them. With the passage of time you can lose important aspects of a memory and sometimes even begin to doubt that the event itself ever actually occurred. That's the significance of having complete confirmation: it validates and crystallizes the memory by turning it from a hazy phantasm into a solid reality.
Why else do we derive such satisfaction (and pleasure!) from hearing that nearly forgotten old song again? Or revisiting that same place, if it still exists, where we took our first true love? Or re-reading that beat-up old comic book?
In this case, for me, it's even more basic. I was only seven years old when I started watching Mannix and the show by coincidence was in its seventh season. Thus its age roughly mirrors mine. So in that small way it symbolizes that period of my life. For other reasons which I won't go into the character became my hero and a role model. I wanted to be just like him. As a child I sat in awe watching those broadcast episodes and though I didn't understand everything I was watching it still left a lasting impression. And that's why what scenes I do remember, I remember quite well.
When TV Land started airing Mannix reruns in the late 1990's I was ecstatic. That being syndication, I accepted the abridged episodes for what they were. But I could sense it was only a matter of time. Sure enough, when TV series season packages began appearing on DVD I waited anxiously, expecting that I would one day own and treasure the COMPLETE, UNABRIDGED Mannix series run. (Silly me!) I couldn't wait to once again view those iconic scenes from so long ago... most of whose episodes interestingly enough were never included in syndication. That latter point only served to heighten my sense of anticipation.
To this day those scenes count among my few vivid recollections of that part of my life. Having them all on dvd would have allowed me to re-experience in a minute but significant way a pleasant piece of my own personal history.
That is why it ANGERS me that THIS season package is NOT a true representation of what aired back then. It angers me more to realize that the dvd versions of segments like "Silent Target" are for all intents and purposes no more complete and therefore worth no more to me than their syndicated tv rerun versions! If Version 'A' is missing this scene and version 'B" is missing that scene, then how is one version more valuable than the other? NEITHER is worth as much as the uncut original!
It doesn't render this dvd set totally worthless mind you, but it does diminish its value enough for me to downgrade my rating. (I wish I could give it 3 1/2 stars, but Amazon doesn't accommodate halves!) It's the equivalent of finding a long-lost treasured photograph with an important section partially torn out. You know it's the same photograph, but the part you remember best isn't all there. Bad enough when there's no monetary expenditure involved; much worse when you wait so long, work so hard, spend your money, and get something LESS than what you expect.
And for what? So some corporate bigwig can see an extra numeral in his paycheck? I mean, what other rationale is there for charging the consumer a premium price for edited down main content? Hell, if it's about saving disc space then eliminate the fancy friggin' menus, bells and whistles and give us the full uncut episodes instead! Some of the best discs I own contain simple, static, episode/chapter lists and completely intact program content! THAT is what I pay my money for, not the unnecessary fluff!
And please don't claim that the editing is to make the stories "flow better" or some such nonsense. That can't be the reason. If the original aired versions were good enough some forty-odd years ago then why wouldn't they still be good enough today, especially given that consumers are paying now for what was free then?
No, I honestly believe that these studios either fail to acknowledge or simply do not care that the people most likely to buy these stupid season sets are longtime fans like me - some of whom get VERY UPSET by this constant penchant for cheating us out of what we deserve. (There goes that word again!) There is simply no justification for tampering with the episode content, unless it is OVERTLY presented as abridged AND offered at a SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED list price (i.e., under $25!). Then I could understand it. Otherwise, if anything, studios should give us MORE than what originally aired, not less! What they're doing is simply unacceptable. And INEXCUSABLE.
[SIDEBAR: Another, perhaps more popular example of getting your money's worth on disc besides "Las Vegas" above is the initial dvd release of the first few seasons of "Friends". A number of episodes are substantially LONGER than what first aired. The segment that sticks in my mind is "The One Where No One's Ready", from Season Two or Three I think. A modern classic & very funny episode with several minutes of extra, un-aired footage on the dvd. I don't own it but I rented it from Netflix quite a while ago, which is why I'm unsure of the exact season. Anyway if you liked that show, and especially if you saw the original airing, check it out (if you can still find it!) and see what I'm talking about. Now, THAT'S the kind of value we should always be getting!]
To conclude (and kudos to those who took the time to grind thru this L-O-N-G review!), as far as the QUALITY of the content - what's LEFT of it - Mannix Season Seven succeeds. It delivers exactly what you'd expect of Joe and those around him, which include:
-his ever-faithful Gal Friday Peggy, who incidentally doesn't appear quite as much as in previous seasons but when she does it usually contributes to the story in a meaningful way;
-his cop buddy Lt. Malcolm, who's at last fleshed out much more than in previous seasons and given some welcome added dimension;
-and a host of clients, victims, lowlifes, mobsters, jilted/ jealous lovers and bizarre suspects. (Wait'll you meet 'Subject Y' in "A Rage to Kill" - hoo-boy, what a doozy! Another character & scene I vividly remembered, and thankfully one the knucklehead studio DIDN'T noticeably butcher!)
Some of the stories do follow familiar conventions but many, as those I named, will thrill and engage like never before. That is, even despite the apparent, at times blatant scene editing. If you've never seen them before you'll enjoy the ride.
However if you know the stories intimately and wish to revisit some fond old memories, well...you might be a bit disappointed by the edited versions. In short, a set worth owning but I strongly advise NOT paying anywhere near full price if possible. That way you might feel somewhat vindicated!