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Why is this man smiling?,
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This review is from: Mannix: Season 7 (DVD)
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.
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Showing 1-10 of 78 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 24, 2012 9:04:20 PM PDT
Another superb season review does it for me; I'm pre-ordering mine now! Thank you.
In reply to an earlier post on May 27, 2012 3:12:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 27, 2012 3:12:49 PM PDT
You could not give a higher complement to my review than that you made a purchase!
Everything I've written about the series this past year is a labor of love for what I have come to believe is the single most under-rated TV series of all time. The character of Joe Mannix was brilliantly done, and is ultimately all the more valuable because his attributes are so useful. Mannix makes you better.
Thanks very much!
Posted on May 27, 2012 5:48:12 PM PDT
Robert Reed not showing up on the Brady Bunch last episode is because he hated the script and refused to do the episode he thought was so stupid. He was also kind of fueding with Sherwood Schwartz over some of the other scripts, like the Soap Commerical episode...I believe that last episode is the one where Gregs hair turns green after washing his hair with a product Bobby was selling.
In reply to an earlier post on May 27, 2012 6:03:45 PM PDT
Right, and, speculation was that he would have -- somehow -- been written out of "The Brady Bunch" had it been renewed for a sixth season which, of course, it was not. His letters to Sherwood Schwartz are legendary -- I saw one where he actually mentions "Mannix" as one example of a show where it would be absurd to place characters in out of character situations as he claimed was being done in "The Brady Bunch." Given all of this, it makes some sense Robert Reed didn't return for the eighth season of Mannix -- the most likely explanation is that he was not in good standing with Paramount at that time. Too bad. He certainly added a lot to "Mannix." Just his work in "The Sound of Darkness," alone, was a major contribution since that episode was a major transition for the series, really taking it to the next level. But, his appearance in other episodes was also very good. I always used to look forward to seeing Adam Tobias -- and, as a kid, never quite put it together that he wasn't going to appear in more than 5 episodes a year (and generally 4 or even 3) of "Mannix" because he was Mr. Brady!
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 4:53:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2012 4:56:41 PM PDT
There was an ep of Brady Bunch where the oldest son was practically drooling in his praise of Mike Connors and Mannix. Just a bit over the top, like Connors cringe-worthy spots on the various 'Lucy' shows.
The seventh season also sees Mannix shed his storied Convertibles for a new Challenger with... Ack!... WHITEWALLS!
See his best car ever, IMO, by Googling 'Mannix Dart GTS'. Car survives in the hands of a Mannix fan, and was re-united with Connors a few years back. Fun stuff!
Alas, a friend and I tried to sell a TV Movie 16 years ago that would have brought an evolved Joe Mannix back to the small screen. Good story (third gen LAPD officer Toby Fair is framed for the theft of 7figures of evidence money) that would have re-united the principals in new situations and would have used a few 'in-jokes' for series fans BUT we were shot down by Connors agent. Joe coulda solved THAT murder in about fifteen seconds.
Met Gail Fisher briefly, an absolute sweetheart...
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 8:48:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2012 8:54:14 PM PDT
I think the "Brady Bunch" episode you are referring to is the one where Bobby -- the youngest son -- says he knows Joe Namath. The set-up there is that Bobby overhears his sisters talking about how Mike Connors was such a good guy for visiting a sick kid -- which gives Bobby the idea to pose as sick so he can get Joe Namath to stop by. I think it was the oldest sister who discussed Mike Connors in glowing terms -- it was definitely one of the girls -- but, in any case, it was typical Brady Bunch set-up for something, and so really wasn't offensive. I did find it interesting that they picked Mike Connors for that discussion. Presumably it had something to do with Robert Reed.
I think Mike Connors only ever appeared with Lucille Ball on "Here's Lucy" -- just once, and as Joe Mannix. I actually thought he did a real good job -- it was much better than I remembered. He was also good at comedy in the role of Joe Mannix.
Yes, the convertible disappears in season 7, never to return. Convertibles were disappearing all over the place then, so I guess they felt the need to keep up with the times. But, it looks wrong. It's strange too, because that same Challenger appeared in the last season of "Mission: Impossible," which overlapped the sixth season of "Mannix." It was a blue convertible. I wondered if they weren't checking that blue car out for use in "Mannix," but decided to keep the green 'cuda one more year in order to be able to re-use shots.
I did see the article where the Dart was re-united with Mike Connors -- that was cool. There's some video of it out there somewhere.
I'm glad there wasn't an attempt made to re-do "Mannix." After all sorts of discussion and thinking about it (mostly over on the "Mannix is Coming!" thread on the Home Theatre Forum), the series was more evolved than designed -- and it evolved around Mike Connors as well as the people behind the scenes. It was -- and is -- unique, something special as is.
And, the phrase "evolved Joe Mannix" does not sound right to me -- and for a lot of reasons.
Beyond that, there hasn't been one good re-make of a show that originated in the 60's - 70's. It sounds like Mike Connors' instincts were right.
It would be nice to know more about Gail Fisher. She was great in that role, where a lot had to be invented along the way, and I always felt she was somehow short-changed by Hollywood after the series ended.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 12:27:22 AM PDT
Glad someone knows something about the Brady Bunch... I sure don't. I thought there was something wrong with those people, they smiled too much.
Our 'evolved; Joe Mannix had a reason to exist. The Diagnosis:Murder reprise that was done instead was the same old thing... he was still a bachelor and reference was made to his long history of 'booze and broads', which I thought was a little insulting for this thoughtful, brave hero.
'Our' Joe lived in Encino near some actor named Connors and had been married for a few years to the fair Elizabeth. They had met two decades prior when on her last day before the start of her maternity leave, she had called to cancel his car insurance (a fitting in-joke for the early seasons if ever there was one) Later 'our' Joe had come to the rescue when Liz's estranged ex-husband split with their infant son. Eventually Joe and Liz got together and at some point married and he adopted her son. (No kids of his own, too many bullet wounds.)
After the Joe-less 'Toby' story setup we finally saw Joe as he visited a car restoration shop to visit his newest acquisition, a restored '70 Cuda 'vert. (The Dart would be better today...) We saw his face for the first time in reflection in the fresh paint on the hood and the shop was that of Larry Watson, the real-life friend of Connors who is legend in the custom car field and was a great guy(RIP). Larry's shop was referenced a half dozen times through the run of the series.
His 'daily driver' was to be a new midnight blue Eldorado Touring Coupe, mostly because I wanted one.
Peggy had married an attorney, and when I asked Gail for her choice, she didn't hesitate at all... Richard Roundtree! Years later I met him, related the story and he said he'd've loved to have done it.
At the time we did it there were numerous TVM entries for older franchises, the best being the Rockford Files and the Columbo TVMs. The first Rockford, 'I (Still) Love L.A.' was just a classic, the character having aged gracefully and- yeah- evolved. The rest were diminishing in quality but the project was a 'win' but for CBSs shabby treatment. The first four of these are available on DVD if you've not seen them.
As a car wrangler I created/handled the truck used in the fiendishly clever 'Columbo Goes To College'. His character was quirky enough that he didn't HAVE to evolve.
I am currently finishing my first mystery novel, first in a limited print franchise. Look for the first of the 'C.Street Mysteries', 'The One That Kills You' later this summer.
Good to know that I'm not the only one hooked on Mannix! Cheers!
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:36:21 AM PDT
I watched "The Brady Bunch" as a kid, as pretty much everyone in my grade school did. I was also a big "Mannix" fan back then, which was less typical of my cohorts. I'm sure Paramount thought there wouldn't be much overlap, with the casting of Robert Reed in both shows, but there was overlap in my case. Since I was a "Mannix" fan, I noticed that they included discussion of Mike Connors in one of the episodes of "The Brady Bunch." I have a pretty good memory for what I saw on TV in my formative years, which is confirmed by my revisiting episodes of TV that I hadn't seen in 40+ years. I remembered that the episode of "The Brady Bunch" where Mike Connors was discussed was really about Joe Namath. So, since they are showing "The Brady Bunch" on Sunday mornings on ME TV (or at least they were back in April), I started to look for the episode about Joe Namath. When I found it, I recorded it -- and, lo and behold, there was the discussion of Mike Connors. They couldn't even edit it out in the heavily edited re-runs, because the discussion was central to the "plot" of the episode. The discussion really wasn't as bad as you described -- at all. In fact, I thought it was a kind of nice bridge between the two shows, since Robert Reed was in both -- a nice touch.
It's interesting that you think that there was too much smiling in "The Brady Bunch." I thought that was fine for the genre of show that it was. By contrast, I thought there was too much levity in "The Rockford Files,' which started out life as a parody to "Mannix" -- and this is confirmed in the NYT obituary of Stephen J. Cannell. I'm not surprised "The Rockford Files" could come up with a reprise, since it was parody to begin with. The same could be said of "Colombo" since he was more caricature than character.
I'm sure you've noticed that when TV series about heroic characters are either re-created in the next generation or reprised with the original actors, they have a fundamental problem. The hero has to somehow become bigger in order to stay compelling, and, since he was heroic before, how do they do that without making the previous version seem weaker? And, if the previous version seems weaker, then why care in the first place?
Movies have solved the problem with all sorts of parodies of older TV -- taking whatever comedic elements were available and making it all about how the audience is so much smarter than they used to be. So, you walk away thinking you were dumb then and are smart now. Or, in the case of "Mission: Impossible" they gut the spirit of the show, and just keep the name, turning into a vehicle for the next generation -- so, there is no real connection at all -- except for the killing off of the previous main hero, just to make the next generation feel better.
When shows like "Rockford" and "Colombo" reprise, all they need to do is keep the humor going -- which is evident in the title of the "Rockford" reprise. It's just ongoing parody.
But, I never enjoyed that type of "hero." I prefer the mix in a show like "Mannix," where, as I've written before, the humor is in proper proportion to the heroism.
And, I still not only think Joe Mannix didn't need to evolve to take on the zeitgeist of modern society, such as marriage and nostalgia, I think we could do better as a society to visit some of the things Joe Mannix represented -- things we've lost. And, I'm not talking about "cars, booze and broads." Interestingly, people can view "Mannix" two ways, as being all about that superficial stuff -- and the action -- or the deeper, more mythical qualities of the character, which were surely there.
The "Diagnosis Murder" episode, while not something I enjoyed first run -- mostly because I didn't have access to "Mannix" back then, holds up better than I expected. I saw it only a few months ago. They did not take the route everyone else was taking at that time, moving heroes into some sort of setting which made them seem as if they were only ever the product of their society all along -- and not something special in their own right. They kept Joe Mannix an individual -- and a unique one. They kept the relationship between Joe and Peggy up for interpretation -- and that was brilliant. They managed to include some of the more special qualities of Joe Mannix in that short episode -- and made the point that they came from him -- not society -- and so he was going to stay that way.
That's the kind of hero I want -- one that holds up. And Joe Mannix holds up.
And, since "Mannix" was always brilliant at leaving a lot open to interpretation, form the tight editing within episodes to the way insight to the character was suggested, but never spelled out, I'm really glad there never was a reprise of "Mannix" that made Joe less than the special, mythical character he was -- and is -- tough, a true individual, and ready to sacrifice.
Yes, there are people who love "Mannix."
We could do better by re-visiting the show as it was -- and is now on these DVDs -- the elements that were in the character -- and maybe we'd be less dominated by group-think and fear.
Cheers, back at ya.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 11:55:35 AM PDT
Our Mannix would have been respectful of the tradition set forth in the original series while bringing him up to date. Looking at my notes last night I recall that we were intent on keeping the adventurous soul of the character alive and showing that there was life after getting pounded continually for most of his career/eight years.
Our Liz Mannix character and her son were to be, in some ways, his salvation, as he had been theirs. Our Joe recognized the value of having a populated home base, tho late in life, instead of someday being found dead under a bridge in Los Feliz, or worse. Close calls (physical, financial, whatever) take a toll on even the best heroes and we wanted to show that he had come through with flying colors.
Our eventual resolution was to have been that Peggy's son Adam (Toby) was to have emerged as a Mannix-style action hero after leaving the LAPD, having survived a duplicitous partner and Joe would have been his mentor.
My all time favorite retro/hero series are 'Mannix', David Jannsen's 'HarryO', Falk's 'Columbo', Bob Urich's 'Spenser', and Garner's 'Rockford'. Not a clinker in the bunch.
Anyway, our Mannix didn't happen. NBD, though I think it would have been good... AND... I miss the place in the hills above Malibu that I woulda bought if it'd happened and I'd become the next Aaron Spelling.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 2:44:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 2:45:49 PM PDT
"Mannix" was much more of a spiritual show than most people realize. And, I don't say that frivolously. I say it as someone who is still surprised to find myself saying that. I've been fascinated with the series since becoming re-united with the show in January of 2011 -- both its content and the way it impacted me in ways I never understood before. Joe Mannix was -- and is -- a universal hero type. Other people are not the salvation for heroes in that mould. When that happens, it weakens the character -- and makes him far less universal.
And we need that.
We need heroes that remind us that, deep down, all we need is ourselves and the will to take punishment for the sake of doing the right thing -- and that even the definition of the right thing comes from inside of us, not some external organization.
We need heroes that let us know that no one ever need come along as our salvation, because salvation comes from what we do, not in the form of anyone else.
The physical abuse Joe Mannix took was always intended to be symbolic. It never held up to reality even over the eight year period. What difference would it make if it was years down the line?
I do not believe Joe Mannix needed to be brought up to date.
We, as a culture, need to find him the way he was -- and is -- on those DVDs.