Today, I was driving down the interstate when a red blur went by me. It was a red Ferrari. A couple of thoughts went through my mind.
“Damn, that’s a cool car.”
“Hey, I should blog about cool private investigators on television.”
One thought – obvious. The other one – not so much.
Anyway, here goes with the post. Private investigator shows were a big deal in the 1970s and 1980s, and my parents watched most of them. As a result, I watched them, too. It’s funny how television copies itself. Let one program hit it big, and a bunch more will follow. I guess some detective show must have hit it big because those shows were everywhere.
Obviously, private investigators were cool, but there were several factors that made up the coolness. Most important was a cool opening credits theme song. In fact, it’s impossible to be a cool television investigator without a cool theme song. Other factors can vary. There may be a cool car. There may be a cool assistant or sidekick. There are also bonus points if the show was a Quinn Martin Production with each episode made up of chapters and an epilogue.
With all of that being said, here are some cool television private eyes.
Barnaby Jones - Old? Sure. I never could figure out how he ran down suspects. However, there is a lot of coolness here. Barnaby had a great theme song. He was a Quinn Martin Production. More than that, his secretary was a former Miss America.
Jim Rockford - The Rockford Files was one of the coolest shows ever. Rockford lived in a trailer and drove a Firebird. Admittedly, it wasn’t a Trans Am, but everyone has faults. He was also used the latest technology, an answering machine. Oh, he also had a great theme song.
Thomas Magnum – Magnum was the epitome of cool. Cool theme song. Cool car. Cool friends. Cool house in a cool locale. However, underneath all of that cool was a professional moocher who didn’t really want to do much.
Thomas Banacek – I have written a little about Banacek before. He was a “man about town” from Boston who investigated insurance claims along side his street wise chauffeur and a friend who owned a bookstore. Full of old Polish proverbs, he solved the craziest of crimes. His theme song left a lot of be desired. I wonder if there is an old Polish proverb that explains why a cool investigator would operate to lame music.
Frank Cannon - I have to give Cannon props for being another Quinn Martin Production, but I have to admit that it was rare to see him running down any bad guys. This guy liked to eat and liked to get paid so he could eat more. Cannon had a cool Lincoln Continental, and he lived in New Mexico. Now, that is what I call cool. His theme song was decent.
It’s because of these guys that I grew up wanting to be a private eye. Heck, it’s a job that can be done no matter who you are.
A former oil baron from the Ozarks.
A gambler from the Old West.
A guy who turned down the role of Indiana Jones.
A movie-making, airplane-building tycoon.
A voice actor who played the Lone Ranger.
These are just a few of the great television private detectives. Do you guys have some favorites?