Today's Washington Post carries an article about the TV series Mannix. Seems that the only way to buy copies of the once-popular show is to buy bootleg on the web. For some reason it has yet to appear on DVD.
I'm sure I'm in a minority when I say that I always found Mannix to be one of the dullest, blandest private eye series I've ever seen. This may have something to do with the fact that its ten year span span coincided with the worst of my drinking and drugging years (I probably mention those years too often but they certainly tainted my take on things) so I don't pretend to offer any kind of objective opinion. He always seemed to be tumbling out of cars--as I was frequently trumbling off couches/chairs/the planet. I recall that he wore a lot of different sport coats and that his attractive black secretary seemed tokenesque even by the standards of the Sixties and Seventies ("Here, let me lick that stamp for you, Mr. Mannix" and assorted other vitally important jobs).
But mostly it was the blandness of the stories and Mannix's reaction to them. Even when he was getting beaten up by the thugs-of-the-week he looked a little disinterested. Maybe I didn't like it because it was never wry or true to the times like Rockford. And it wasn't hokey sociopathic fun like Hawaii 5-0 (McGarrett really needed to be Xanaxed several times a day, preferably by injection).
I was surprised when I saw the Mannix headline. I probably hadn't thought of that show in several years. If it had really been terrible I would've remembered it. But that seemed to be the problem. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. It just was.
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Oddly enough, I was just discussing MANNIX with some people yesterday, and noted that the first season of this Levinson and Link creation, at least, was a bit different than the dull slugfest it became. And I was reminded of BLIMMIX, the BOB AND RAY radio parody, in which Blimmix gives the villain an inevitably ineffectual philosophical argument as to why he shouldn't beat up Blimmix; Blimmix then takes his beating with equanimity, seeing the villain's point.
And your comment about HAWAII FIVE-0 is both spot-on and only incompletely suggestive of the often charming insanity of that series. Don'cha know, the Alaska State Police is Alaska Four-Nine, the Oklahoma Oklahoma Four-Eight, and so on?
MANNIX was pedestrian, but the first year had a pretty good premise -- old -school PI works for a modern security corporation, frustrates his boss (Joe Campanella) by solving the cases with fists and shoe leather rather than computers. After the first year, the producers ditched the premise and Campanella, and turned Mannix into the usual self employed, shabby-office-on-the-second-floor peeper.
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