Simon & Simon - Season One
Brotherly love is put to the test as all thirteen Season One episodes of the action-packed adventure series Simon & Simon arrive on DVD for the first time! Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker star as the sibling sleuths whose approach to fighting crime are as unrelated as they come. A.J. (Parker) is slick, sophisticated and ambitious. His scruffy older brother, Rick (McRaney), would rather kick back and play his guitar. As private investigators, they're on the hunt for criminals, counterfeiters, and contract killers on the streets of San Diego, but in order to succeed, they'll have to work together without driving each other crazy in the process! Along for the exciting ride are popular guest stars Markie Post, Peter Graves, Jerry Stiller and more! From the producer of NCIS, JAG, Max Headroom and The Twilight Zone, comes the Emmy-nominated series about the mismatched detective duo with adventure coursing in their blood!
The half-hour documentary about 1980s television that accompanies this Simon & Simon - Season One box set does the show itself no favors. By profiling several other series of that era, it puts Simon & Simon right in its proper perspective: i.e., not as inane as, say, The A-Team or Knight Rider, but nowhere near as cool or ground-breaking as Miami Vice, as engaging as Quantum Leap, or as charming as Magnum P.I.. Not that this series about private investigating brothers A.J. (Jameson Parker) and Rick (Gerald McRaney) Simon is bad; like '80s San Diego, where it takes place, it's pleasant, laid-back, and not especially sophisticated. The rapport between the mismatched siblings has a certain roguish charm (A.J., the younger one, is fairly strait-laced and fastidious, while Rick is his loose cannon foil) that's reflected in the overall tone, as the brothers, who aren't exactly at the top of the heap in their profession, pursue killers, kidnappers, computer hackers, crooked concert ticket brokers, and such. But overall, this is tame stuff, even considering its tongue-in-cheek intentions. It's hard to imagine that viewers used to the higher production values, more graphic and intense content, and "keeping it real" vibe of new millennium cop dramas will be riveted by Simon & Simon's relentlessly lightweight and low-tech style; the sets are cheesy, the writing is drab, the villains are one-dimensional, and aside from the two stars, the acting is by and large on a Grade B level. On the other hand, those who abhor today's TV for the very reasons mentioned above might well prefer a gentle walk down memory lane and/or a slice of undemanding escapism, and this basic four-disc, 13-episode set will surely provide it. --Sam Graham
- 13 episodes on four discs
- Bonus episode from season two
- "The Great 80's Flashback": A look back on the impact which various programs made on television landscape during the 80's
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The Simon’s are kind of like Oscar and Felix from the “Odd Couple” and the contrast between the two is a constant source of amusement. They poach clients from Myron on occasion while enlisting Janet’s assistance on more than one occasion. Cases feature many special guest stars from the era who are fun to see again. The boys spend a lot of time in Mexico which is depicted as a relatively carefree place whereas today their beheaded corpses would be found in a shallow grave first time they go south of the border. It’s all pretty light stuff and fun and still enjoyable entertainment. The first season theme music is not the one most viewers will recall, and in fact there are cringe-worthy lyrics they play during the closing credits. Thankfully, they got a new tune starting in season 2.
It’s odd that the series isn’t available in a box set and you have to purchase each season individually. Also, the prices are what you’d expect to pay for the last season of a contemporary hit show and not one that’s almost 40 years old! I’m on board for more of “Simon & Simon”.
The premise of SIMON & SIMON is very simple. Two brothers, Rick (Gerald McRaney) and A.J. Simon (Jameson Parker) operate a low-rent, struggling-to-survive private investigation firm in San Diego. The brothers are, of course, total opposites in every way. Rick is a Vietnam veteran, urban cowboy and all around adult juvenile delinquent who lives on a boat, drinks too much beer, and fights a lot with his dog Marley. A.J. is a handsome fitness freak with preppie manners and a wardrobe to match. Both are bullied by their domineering mother (Mary Carver) and their grouchy, gravelly-voiced ex-boss Myron (Eddie Barth), who used to employ them at his soulless P.I. firm but is now their main competitor. Despite being polar opposites, the brothers are super close and protective of each other and essentially form a single, unified personality. Where brute force and a .44 are required, enter Rick; where a smooth con and finesse are the solution, enter A.J. When a beautiful woman comes into the picture, enter both (no pun intended).
If this sounds familiar and formulaic, it is, but show me a private-eye show that isn't. What elevates SIMON & SIMON from the parade of similar-themed shows is the incredible chemistry between McRaney and Parker. Zillions of people have played siblings on television, but these two, despite their physical dissimilarities, nail the brotherly bond as perfectly as anyone ever has. They speak the private language all brothers share, reminiscing about high school and complaining about their tyrannical mother, yet balance the affection with all the usual fights, arguments and rivalries in which actual brothers engage. It is so beautifully done that even in the mediocre episodes, it is easy to forget the flaws in storytelling and structure and simply enjoy the ride. What's more, and like MAGNUM, the writers made a decision not to play the brothers as invincible uber-macho Mike Hammer stereotypes: they are flawed, fallible and funny. I emphasize the last, because SIMON & SIMON relied very heavily on humor -- especially at the expense of their heroes -- to deliberately balance the tension of fistfights, shootouts and surveillance gigs gone terribly wrong. I could cite many examples, but there is one scene which I adore, in which Rick and A.J. have been tied up and left in a warehouse. Rick's dog, Marley, answers their cries and enters the warehouse as if to rescue them. "Now, chew through the ropes!" shouts Rick. Instead, the dog jumps up and begins to lick both brothers with great canine enthusiasm. "No, no Marley -- chew through the ropes!" screams Rick over and over again, until finally A.J. explodes and bellows, "Marley, kill your master! Kill him!" I don't think I've ever laughed harder at a television moment in my life. And by playing the brothers this way, as daring, decent, courageous men who nonetheless screw up and get humiliated just like the rest of us, the show wins the loyalty of its viewers forever, no matter what its early flaws.
This brings me to my main criticism of the inaugural season, which is that unlike MAGNUM, which very nearly found its stride in the pilot and kept on running for nine years, SIMON & SIMON took quite a bit longer to get going. The emphasis of the original episodes is very much on the fact that San Diego is Mexico adjacent, but this is eventually dropped, or diminished, in favor of more S.D.-based stories. The opening episodes also feel sluggish and a bit cheap -- their offices are located, in this season, on what is obviously a studio lot halfheartedly done up to look like an open-air mall; the original theme music is awful and the credit sequence horribly dated and dumb; and many of the early episodes are distinctly anticlimactic. By the end of the season many of these flaws have been corrected, most notably the change to the awesome "screaming saxophone" score and the punchy opening credits. Tellingly, an episode from Season Two, which is included in this collection as a bonus feature, showcases every one of the show's strengths. It is called "The Secret of the Chrome Eagle" and is a perfect example of why SIMON & SIMON will always hold a place in my heart. It's got twists, turns, double-crosses, triple-crosses, multiple murders, and plenty of laughs to provide breaks from the tension.
If my three-star review seems a little harsh given this effusive praise, I maintain that I refuse to grade on a curve for a show that became as good as SIMON & SIMON soon did. The opening season is definitely worth your time and money, but it is only a hint (albeit a strong one) of what was to come. Which was the best.
Here's a quick break down of cast info, brief plot info, a list of a few cool guest stars, and then finally my opinions on the series!
Details at Eleven (11/24/81):
plot: The simons are hired to find the missing step-daughter of a news anchor.
* Cool guest Stars: MARKIE POST, PETER GRAVES!
Love, Christy (12/1/81)
plot: Rick and A.J. try to recover a stolen car that belongs to a beautiful college girl!
plot: Simon and Simon are hot on the trail of a young computer hacker!
A Recipe for Disaster (12/17/81)
plot: A child has been kidnapped and the trial leads Rick and A.J. to Mexico!
* Cool guest stars: Red West
The Least Dangerous Game (12/29/81)
plot: Rick and A.J. investigate the death of an animal keeper.
The Dead Letter File (1/5/82)
plot: A letter mailed 23 years earlier may contain a clue as to who murdered the sender... the day after the letter was sent!
The Hottest Ticket in Town (1/12/82)
plot: Rick and A.J. find themselves in the middle of a huge counterfeiting scam! Not fake money, fake concert tickets!
* Cool guest stars: Joey Travolta
Ashes to Ashes, and None Too Soon (1/16/82)
plot: A man commits suicide after Rick and A.J. serve him with divorce papers!
Uncivil servant (1/27/82)
plot: Rick and A.J. are on the hunt for a stolen classified document!
*Cool guest stars: John Schuck, Jerry Stiller!
Earth to Stacey (2/9/82)
plot: Rick and A.J. are hired by a bride looking for her runaway groom!
* Cool guest stars: Lisa Eilbacher
Double Entry (3/2/82)
plot: A woman hires the simons to find out if her husband is having an affair!
plot: A dating service is not all that it appears to be!
Tanks for the Memories (3/16/82)
plot: Rick and A.J. are hired to find missing classmates for an upcoming class reuinion.
* Cool Guest stars: Lance LeGault
Simon and Simon was never the most stylish or action packed series during the 80's. The true strength of the series was the actors, Jameson Parker (A.J. Simon) and Gerald McRaney (Rick Simon). The best episodes are those which place an emphasis on the relationship of the main characters, as brothers and also friends.
Regarding the box set: A bit of a high price tag for a "13 episode" DVD set. I would have given 5 stars if they had released a season one/season two combo box. But I guess we should be happy that it's finally here and look forward to season two!
Season two consisted of 22 episodes. Here's a list of some of the cool guest stars for season two:
Joe Mantegna, Morgan Fairchild, Don Stroud, Eddie Albert, Lisa Eilbacher, Ray Walston, Robert Ginty, Cleavon Little, and Dean Stockwell.
The series was a huge success and was on TV from 1981 until 1989! It was cancelled in its eighth season and the final few episodes were not seen until it was in reruns! 156 episodes in all!
Great 80's entertainment!