Credit: CBS/Landov


He’s not as famous as Columbo or as lauded as Jim Rockford, but few TV detectives have remained as beloved and under-the-radar cool as Mike Connors’ Joe Mannix. After years of petitions and pleas for a DVD release of the ’67-75 CBS series (it also ran six years on TV Land), we finally get Mannix: The First Season.

Some may recall the show as tales of a lone-wolf private eye aided only by his faithful secretary Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher, in one of the first roles on a drama series for a black actress). But in this 24-episode debut season, Peggy hadn’t come on the scene, and Mannix was employed by Intertect, a huge detective agency. In the opening credits, we saw what now seems like an absurdly large computer whirring and beeping, supposedly collating information and finally spitting out what proves to be the title card: ”MANNIX.” Right from the start, however, Connors emitted broad-shouldered, Everyman solidness. Mannix solved cases with his brains, his gun, and his fists: He was an all-purpose detective.

This six-disc set is low on extras; there’s a nice featurette with Connors and costar Joseph Campanella (Mannix’s boss) reminiscing, but only two episodes have full-length commentaries. If Connors, now 82, isn’t up to recording more for future DVD releases, Paramount should consider getting a TV historian to participate, because Mannix is ripe for reevaluation as a vision of post-counterculture, pre-yuppie America. B+

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