DVD Review: Mannix Season One

I have been saying for years that I want Mannix on DVD. When I got a chance to Meet one of the co creators last year at a festival we both agreed that we needed Mannix. And now it’s here.

When this show first aired in 1967-1968 I was 4. There were eight seasons, so when the show finally stopped airing in 1975 I was 12 and an avid viewer. My parents were pretty cool and let me stay up and watch the show with them. My memories of the show are hazy, I remember Mannix hitting a lot of people and I remember a lot of scenes done outside. My biggest memory is that I loved it. So now it’s 40 years later and I am watching the first season, and it does my heart good to say the show is still indeed great.

Season one has Joe Mannix working at Intertect, a security and investigations firm on a corporate scale run by Lew Wickersham. As we learn later in the season, Joe and Lew have a history, one that includes fighting together in a military situation. Lew like his offices run tight, only one paper on a desk at a time, and most of the work is done by the computers. Of course in 1967 the computers were huge goliaths running giant tape spools and spitting out hundreds of punch cards and generating a lot of paper. Joe Mannix is an anomaly at Intertect, his desk and office are a mess and he is not really a believer in the power of computing. Mannix relies on leg work and talking to people to get his information. The first season plays heavily into the relationship between Lew and Joe. I’ve seen it said they didn’t get a long, which is untrue. Lew knows how good Mannix is and quite often after scolding him about something he turns away and smiles. And the truth is, Lew is always there for Joe if needed, though it’s not often that Joe needs help. Later seasons have Joe working on his own, though Lew does pop in occasionally.

Mannix handles a variety of cases in the 24 episodes here. Missing persons, art forgery, kidnapping and all the staples of a typical fictional PI. What makes this something special is the fact that Mannix really cares what happens. He has a low bullshit tolerance and doesn’t care for injustices. What makes this fun is the fact that Mannix has no problems beating the crap out of people.

He gets hit too, and shot, but he always gives better than he gets. He also drives a really damn cool car ( a 1968 Toronado). Mike Conners really took on this role with full gusto, he did a lot of his own stunts and you can tell he’s enjoying every minute.

The extra features are nice. There is a two part conversation with Mike Conners and Joeseph Campanella done right before the release in which they talk about the show and the fun they had. There is also a clip from Diagnosis Murder in which Mannix has a cameo. There are also audio introduction from Conners on a lot of the episodes.

This show inspired a lot of people, both screenwriters and novelists. After watching this first season I can see why. I plan to have the whole set on my shelves and they will be getting a lot of use.

Jon Jordan

A nice article and photo of Mike Conners can be found here: jonathanalcorn.blogspot which has a nice piece about Mike Conners.

Lee Goldberg recalls the episode of Diagnosis Murder with Mannix here: A Writers Life