- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Will Harris
annix? Who the hell is Mannix?
It’s surprising that Mike Connors’ iconic TV detective, who prowled the airwaves of CBS for eight seasons between 1967 and 1975, hasn’t gotten as much love in reruns as, say, “Hawaii Five-O.” It’s pretty well documented that “Mannix” was one of the darker and more violent (by ‘60s standards, anyway) detective shows on television in its day, with the title character a definite predecessor to smart-ass private eyes like Jim Rockford and Thomas Magnum. Plus, the show as created by William Link and Richard Levinson, who were also responsible for “Columbo” and “Murder, She Wrote,” and executive-produced by Bruce Geller, whose wrote, created and produced “Mission: Impossible.”
Do we have your attention now?
Unlike the other seasons of the series, this first year of “Mannix” finds our hero serving not as a solo operative but, rather, working for a huge Los Angeles detective agency called Intertect. Mannix reports to Lew Wickersham (Joseph Campanella), but it’s clear to both parties that despite all of the advice and information being provided by Intertect’s high-tech computers (which, in 1967, took up several floors of their office building), Mannix is going to follow his gut. Wickersham’s frustration with Mannix is nearly constant, but he knows the guy is the best operative on the Intertect payroll, so he tolerates his often-reckless behavior…but just barely.
Even those pop culture fans who are aware of the existence of “Mannix” may be surprised to discover just how cool the series was. For one thing, Mannix is an old-school tough guy, generally wearing a suit and tie, smoking a cigarette as often as not, and ending conversations with pulling a gun or delivering a sharp right hook. (Like the split-screen opening credits aren’t awesome enough with the Lalo Schifrin theme, they’re made all the more fab by having a punch thrown in the bottom left corner square and connecting in the upper right square!) Mannix also found his way into some pretty hip situations. In one episode, Mannix visits a nightclub to follow up on a lead and finds himself listening to an acoustic performance by a very young Neil Diamond; in another, he’s searching for a friend’s missing daughter, and in the process of trying to find this hippie girl, he ends up at a Buffalo Springfield show! (The latter episode also features a baby-faced Tom Skerritt.)
Not every cop show or detective drama from the ‘60s survives intact when held up to the harsh light of today’s TV standards, but “Mannix” manages to do so. Maybe it’s because it hasn’t suffered from the overexposure of some of its peers, but we suspect it’s mostly because of Mike Connors, whose delivery bounces from lighthearted to smart-ass to dramatic with ease; even when some of the material around him hasn’t necessarily aged well, his performances remain timeless.
Special Features: Wow, someone must’ve given CBS/Paramount a kick in the ass. First, we were gifted with all that bonus material from Roy Thinnes on “The Invaders,” and now Mike Connors and Joseph Campanella have reunited to provide new interviews and an episode commentary, with Connors going the extra mile and providing audio intros for every episode. Also included is a clip of Connors on “The Mike Douglas Show,” the original sales presentation and 1967 fall preview for “Mannix,” a funny commercial from TV Land’s run of the show, that explains why our hero was hit over the head with guns more often than he was shot with them, and a photo gallery. The only disappointing feature is a clip from Connors’ reprisal of the Mannix character on an episode of “Diagnosis: Murder” that isn’t yet available on DVD. Talk about a tease!