Monday, January 28, 2008

A Quinn Martin Production

Anyone who grew up in the 70s will remember the phrase, "a Quinn Martin production." Martin was a prolific TV series producer, the man behind shows like Barnaby Jones, The Streets of San Francisco and more.

From Wikipedia:
The eponymously-named Quinn Martin Productions produced a string of hit television series during the 1960s and 1970s, including The Fugitive, Twelve O'Clock High, The F.B.I., The Invaders, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones. His series were known for their highly stylized format: a prologue featuring a stern-voice narrator to establish the premise; explicitly announced Acts I, II, III, and IV; and an epilogue, again featuring the narrator.
They fail to mention the best part of "a Quinn Martin production": the episode titles. These were always laughably dramatic titles that:

1) used words like "gambit," "crucible," "caper" and others that no normal person ever used;
2) referenced mythological or Biblical figures (Judas, Damocles, Herod, Minerva);
3) used corny,
clich├ęd metaphors (Web of Deceit, Nest of Scorpions);
4) frequently followed this simple formula: (noun) + "of" + (emotion) = score! (Triangle of Fear, Conspiracy of Terror).

Here are some QM show opens, followed by a list of some actual episodes from the various series. If I wore a hat, it would be off to Steve Hatchett for the great idea.

Real episode titles from various QM shows:

Perchance To Kill
See Some Evil, Do Some Evil
The Day
Of The Viper
The Deadly Jinx
Rendezvous With Terror
Blueprint For A Caper
Web Of Deceit
For Two
Of Fear
Honeymoon With Death

Dangerous Gambit
Of Thy Father
Of Evil
Of Thieves
The Deadly Charade
Of Treachery
The Damocles Gun
Of Fear
The Devil's Handmaiden
Uninvited Peril
Of Scorpions
Dance With Death
Homecoming For A Dead Man
Death Is The Punchline
Of Silence
The Girl
In The Electric Coffin
The Nowhere Man
Devil's Playground
Blood On
The Vine
Cain's Mark
Bitter Legion
Nobody Beats
The House
The Dead Samaritan
To Ride A Tiger
He Who Digs
A Grave
Hounds Of Hell
Of the Damned
Conspiracy Of Corruption
Arena Of Fear
Triangle Of Terror
Voice From
The Grave
Coffin Corner
The Iceman
A Touch Of Venom
The Games Children Play
The Quasar Kill
Image In A Cracked Mirror
To Free My Enemy
The Plague Merchant
Passage Into Fear
For Betrayal
Wind It Up And It Betrays You
Caesar's Wife
Of Silence
Antennae Of Death
Of Terror
The Minerva Tapes
Judas Goat
Arrangement With Terror
Escape To Nowhere
A Game
Of Chess
Holiday with Terror
A Gathering
Of Sharks
The Loper Gambit
The Year Of The Locusts
A Collection
Of Eagles
Of The Serpent
Of The Lost
Chapel Of The Damned
A String
Of Puppets
Of Prey
Mister Nobody
Murder By Proxy
For Murder
Clown Of Death


  1. the best part of watching some of these old shows is seeing who shows up as a guest star - Gene Hackman on the FBI - that's cool.

  2. LOL *Antennae of Death* Those wicked scary antennaes.
    Great clips, I remember my parents watching those shows.

  3. Some of those were great shows. As a kid I loved the earnest, low key good guys, all straight shooters. "Combat" was done in a similar style. Didn't care much for the later stuff like "Streets of SF," "Canon" and, especially, "Barnaby Jones." For one thing, in every episode Buddy Ebsen literally shot from the hip and always shot the gun out of the bad guy's hand. Major "gimme a break." For another, he was always drinking out of the milk bottle or carton in other people's houses, leaving his BJ germs behind!

  4. Those super still ID shots are priceless! I think someone actually blinked in one.

  5. I don't like Michael Douglas. He can't act. His dad can't act. I used to say that Michael Douglas was in his prime as an actor when he was on "The Streets of San Francisco". It was meant as an insult 'cause... the guy can't act. I just saw part of an episode on an Air France flight (I love Paris in the springtime) and he's even worse than I remember. Gotta love the open though.

  6. Whitman - Yes, I agree. What's weird though is how these opens are filled with people you've never heard of. Even I have never heard of them, and I watched a lot of TV and have a good memory for names. btw - did you know that Hackman was the producers' first choice for Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch?

    Kim - my neighbor has an Antenna Of Death on his roof.. or at least, it will be, when it topples off and kills him. Which should be any day now.

    Lex - didn't remember that about BJ drinking people's beverages. Is that like a robber taking a dump in the house they rob?

    Spinderfella - the person who blinked was never asked back.

    Steve - or maybe you're just jealous that MD can afford lots of unnecessary plastic surgery and be a 70yo man with 30yo eyes.

  7. Ha ha!....I forgot about house antennaes! I was thinking car antennas, like maybe the killers MO was poking the victims eye out with a car antenna. Or maybe it was those damn rabbit ear antennaes and the killer wraps them around his victims necks. Because who hasnt wanted to do that!

    Maybe the word antennae is a metaphor for something far reaching. I want to look up this episode

  8. Loved watching these openings. Years ago, when I worked in London, an office mate started humming the theme song from "Barnaby Jones" we looked at each other, realized at the same moment what that song was, and laughed all day talking about those shows.

    Efrem Zimbalist Jr is still alive; he's 99. He was slick.

  9. I think my folks watched all those shows.

    Those titles sound like old Perry Mason books!

    EZ Jr. is still alive?? Wow!

  10. I particularly like the title 'Clown of Death' although I feel it would have a better ring as 'Clown of DOOM!'
    Another favorite is 'See Some Evil, Do Some Evil.' Was 'some' the only word they could think of that was the opposite of 'no'?

    Also, for someone who grew up a couple decades shy of the 70's, the various wipes and zooms, and - oh God - the graphics are particularly hilarious.

  11. Man, those were some awesome theme songs. You don't hear theme songs like those anymore.

    Ah, the memories...

  12. One of my all-time favorite spoofs of this genre was Police Squad! In color! It lasted only 6 episodes, but it's a classic!

    The intro usually ran something like this:
    "Police Squad! In color! Starring Leslie Nielsen. Also starring Alan North. And Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln." Lincoln was shot at from behind, his hat being dislodged from his head, then he got out of his chair and fired back.

    It continued:
    "Tonight's special guest star: William Conrad." And the guest star would always be killed in the opening montage.

    Then the voice-over would say:
    "Tonight's episode: Dead Men Don't Laugh" when the actual title read "Testimony of Evil."

    Here's a YouTube video of the intro.

    And here's an A-Z encyclopedia of Police Squad!

  13. The Quinn Martin shows were excellent for their day. Some of them are STILL great shows. "The Streets of San Francisco" is a great cop show.

    That narrator - I wonder who he was? He was one of the most identifiable voices of the late sixties and through the seventies.

  14. Thanks for all the great comments.

    Scott, sounds funny. I'll check it out. I didn't realize Police Squad only lasted six episodes. I watched one or two of those.

  15. And lest we forget, the intro of The FBI had the reading of the star's name as
    Starring Efrem ZIMbalist(fading now)junior...

    The hilarious thing about that show? It was sponsored by Ford and EVERYONE drove Fords in the show - good guys, bad guys, agents, ordinary people - it didn't matter.

  16. Not everyone drove Fords, the bad guys were usually in crappy looking old chevs.

  17. Marin Sheen guest starred in a lot of QM shows at the beginning of his career. Regular guest stars also included Leslie Nielsen and Pat Hingle.

  18. Efrem Zimbaliist Jr. just died. I couldn't help but think that his funeral should be "A Quinn Martin Production" with the narrator saying "Tonight's episode: Death of a Star".

  19. My personal favorite - Press Pass to the Slammer. "

  20. To answer the Q above - QM used 3 or 4 announcers over the years, but the main guy was Hank Sims (B.Jones, Streets of SF, Cannon, Dan August) and yes - his voice was everywhere in those decades. That he also did Police Squad was a nice touch.
    Trivia Question- what QM ancr was later the star of his own QM show? Answer-William Conrad (ancr on The Fugitive) later starred in Cannon.

  21. The shows were formula cheap-and-cheerful t.v. and were often badly-plotted and -acted, but they did provide chewing-gum for the eyes of a blue-collar audience that was happy to put its mind in neutral after a day at the
    coal-face, people who didn't want to get too involved with better, more demanding, stuff.

  22. John Hardman, what condescending nonsense. What do you consider 'better' and 'more demanding'? NPR?



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