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Quinn Martin produced the first season of "The Untouchables" (1959-60)
for Desilu, and then left to form his own production company.
"The New Breed" (1961-62) was the first QM production. "The New Breed" was set in modern day Los Angeles, but it was basically a remake of "The Untouchables". Lt. Price Adams (a modern day Eliot Ness) led an elite squad of college-educated detectives who handled the most challenging cases. This special unit was called the "Hot Shot" squad.
Quinn Martin's biggest skill as a producer was choosing seemingly perfect leading men. David Janssen, Robert Lansing, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Roy Thinnes, William Conrad and Michael Douglas made wonderful QM heroes. Thirty-five year old Leslie Nielsen had worked for Quinn Martin as a guest star on the first season of "The Untouchables". Nielsen was a strong and highly respected dramatic actor, but at this point in his career he just didn't make a very interesting hero. Nielsen didn't let you see the humanity, self-doubts and quirks of Price Adams. His Price Adams was too much the usual flawless, upstanding, dedicated, humorless hero. Nielsen would become a big star many years later making brutal fun of just such a character, Lt. Frank Drebin.
Nielsen started to get interesting as a dramatic actor in the late 1960's as he began to gray. He was fascinating as character leads in the TV movies "Shadow over Elveron" and "Trial Run". Nielsen made a terrific cop in "The Protectors" segments of "The Bold Ones", seven years after "The New Breed".
Quinn Martin later said he didn't know where he went wrong in casting Nielsen, but that maybe he was just too muscular to appeal. Quinn Martin must not have been too mad at Nielsen for the failure of "The New Breed". Nielsen was later an ubiquitous guest star on QM shows including "The Streets of San Francisco", "The FBI", "Cannon" and "Barnaby Jones".
It is not so easy to say who could have made a better Price Adams than Leslie Nielsen. Some ideas: Charles Aidman, Gary Merrill, Keith Andes, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Keith Larsen, Jason Evers, George Grizzard, Michael Tolan, James Coburn, Robert Sampson, David McClean, Jack Lord, and Vince Edwards. Frankly, I'm not sure any of them would have been any better than Nielsen. Making a cop role compelling (and convincing) is not as easy as it looks.
The most memorable episode of "The New Breed" was "Lady Killer", where Robert Redford played a psychopathic serial rapist. Anne Francis was his latest victim, and Martin Balsam was her husband. This was an unusually stark and adult subject for the time, and it was well handled. Redford was superb, and I bet Quinn Martin offered him a series. Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen had worked together five years earlier in "Forbidden Planet" (1956).
Peter Falk had two early guest star roles on "The New Breed". Other guest stars included Telly Savalas, Robert Blake, Jack Klugman and Charles Bronson.
Quinn Martin hit the bullseye in casting the lead in his next series, "The Fugitive". But Martin actually cast Barry Morse as Lt. Gerard before David Janssen. Morse had greatly impressed Martin with two guest star performances on "The New Breed".
Forty five years ago when this series first screened, I was certain it
would be a success. Why it was so short lived remains a mystery.
This series was in fact based on a particular Division within the Los Angeles Police Department. Metropolitan Division. Metropolitan Division was then, and remains today, the most selective of all LAPD Division's in selecting its personnel. Hence the name of the series, "The New Breed." It has grown in number and is the Division from which LAPD'S Special Weapons and Tactical Team (SWAT) was formed and remains to this day .
Leslie Nielson was outstanding as Lt. Price Adams. He had given a preview of his acting ability a few years earlier in the 1956 original production of "Ransom", in which he played reporter Charlie Telfer.
Back in 1961 this short-lived program was my favorite show on
television. It was very similar to The Untouchables as far as story
lines go, and in fact it was certainly a knock-off of the The
Untouchables, which was developed for ABC by Quinn Martin, and The New
Breed was the first series Quinn Martin developed on his own after he
For some reason The New Breed was easier for an 11 year old child to follow and understand than was The Untouchables.
Leslie Nielsen was a great cop, and he played it seriously, totally unlike his slapstick Naked Gun and Police Academy movies. Back in those days Leslie Nielsen was a serious actor. John Beradino co-starred, right before he began his long run on General Hospital.
No one seems to remember this show but me.
I also can't figure out why this show didn't make it. It was a hit when
I was in 7th grade with my peer group.
Show had a great theme song.
Typical Quinn Martin production, based on the technical architecture of his other shows (The Fugitive) First time I had seen Leslie Nielsen in a straight dramatic role since Forbidden Planet and 1 appearance on the Untouchables. Who would have guessed his greatest success would have come in comedy? John Beradino also did a good job; he was another Untouchables alum, having starred in a couple of episodes.
Maybe it's time to get this one on DVD.
I watched The New Breed when I was a kid and loved it ever since. That was the first time I'd seen Leslie Nielson on T.V. I seem to recall that the series was televised for two or three years. So far, I haven't seen any re-runs on any of the cable channels. A number of good stars appeared on the show, like Ed Begley, Victor Jory and John Beradino. I don't know why the series went off the air as quickly as it did, particularly when I see so many of these minor-league T.V. shows stay on the air, year after year. Leslie Nielson was a real straight-laced and serious actor in the early 60's, unlike the comedy roles he plays in now. But I've always respected him as an actor and he certainly has the experience to do either serious roles or comedy ones. It's definitely time to get The New Breed out on DVD!
The New Breed was a great TV show. For some reason I could never forget it. The music of the show was terrific as well, I remember it perfectly. I really don't expect ever to find it on DVD, but who knows, it would be a blessing to watch it again. All my friends from my age remember The New Breed so its not been forgotten. It is well alive in our memories and in our hearts. In general I would say that the best TV show were produced during the sixties and the seventies. I would love one day to be able to have a conversation with Leslie Nielsen and ask him to bring back memories from the show. He's a fine actor. I don't know how many of the original stars are still with us.
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