- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: BearManor Media (July 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593930313
- ISBN-13: 978-1593930318
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Alias Smith & Jones: The Story of Two Pretty Good Bad Men Paperback – July 1, 2005
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Fortunately, they were able to interview executive producer Roy Huggins before his death. Huggins is better known for his creation of two iconic series starring James Garner, MAVERICK and THE ROCKFORD FILES. Even though he didn't create AS&J (Glen Larson did), Huggins was largely responsible for guiding the show through its 3 short seasons and had a hand in developing and writing almost every story. Reading the book and watching the shows, it's easy to see how Huggins saw AS&J as a continuation of MAVERICK, with very much the same lighthearted style. Pete Duel, especially, managed to capture the easy-going charm Garner displayed as Bret Maverick (and could have had a long, successful TV career), and co-star Ben Murphy ably filled the role of the amiable gunslinger partner.
The authors write about the tragic suicide death of Pete Duel mid-way through the series, and the thankless task actor Roger David had in taking over the role of Hannibal Heyes from the popular Duel.
Reading the book added a great deal to my enjoyment when watching the shows again after almost 40 years.
The first season had strong ratings against the NBC powerful "The Flip Wilson Show" and the show was renewed for a second with lead actors Pete Duel and Ben Murphy. Towards the end of the second season with five episodes to go Duel died by his own hand either deliberately or by accident. The popular show was in trouble and guest star Roger Davis was offered to help the series continue replacing Duel as Hannibal Heyes aka Joshua Jones.
ALIAS SMITH & JONES: THE STORY OF TWO PRETTY GOOD BAD MEN authors Sandra K. Sagala and JoAnne M. Bagwell both fans when the series originally ran in 1971 give us the details about the creation of the series, it's development, Larson & Huggins involvement as the show moved from unlikely midseason replacement to hit series. The authors also do a good job of giving us brief biographies of the late Pete Duel, Ben Murphy and Roger Davis. Sagala and Bagwell also do a nice job of analyzing which episodes work, the development of the story (they had access to original scripts with their annotations and changes)and how successfully the story was brought to the screen. They also don't shy away from discussing the controversey of recasting the role of Heyes vs. cancelling the series interviewing everyone from Universal producer (and later executive)Frank Price to director Alex Singer (who did the last two episodes featuring Duel the last one requiring reshoots with Davis in the role).
The one flaw with the book was a virtue before the DVD release of the series; the authors spent too much time giving us a synopsis of each episode. While that's appreciated if you haven't seen the show in quite a while, the recent syndication of the series and its DVD releases (2007 Alias Smith & Jones - Season One and early 2010 for Alias Smith And Jones: Seasons 2 & 3--the entire series is also available here-Alias Smith and Jones - The Complete Series! 50 episodes on 10 DVDs!)make the synopsis of each episode a bit of overkill. Since the book was published in 2005 before the series appeared on DVD, it's understandable. I would have preferred a much briefer synopsis of each episode and more interviews/content directed at the making of each episode and season. For those who haven't seen the show since it originally aired or purchased the DVD releases yet this would be an advantage I just would have liked more "meat" on the production of the show. I also would have liked to see more biographical material on all the important participants in creating the show.
ALIAS SMITH AND JONES: THE STORY OF TWO PRETTY GOOD BAD MEN is a worthwhile read and glimpse behind-the-scenes into the issues the series faced before airing, its surging popularity and the struggle the producers/cast/writers/directors faced in the wake of Duel's death. The book also features numerous behind-the-scenes photos. Recommended.
Also recommended: Pete Duel: A Biography