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Mike Longstreet was an insurance investigator who was blinded in an explosion. His wife was killed by the same blast. With the aid of braille teacher Nikki and guide dog Pax, Longstreet tracked down the jewel thieves who murdered his wife, and continued his career as a detective. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
A strong lead performance and a good supporting/guest cast made Longstreet worth watching.
From the 1960s and 70s, there were numerous detective series where the lead character had a unique characteristic: wheelchair-bound Ironside, trench coat-wearing Columbo, senior citizen Barnaby Jones, etc. In the case of the watchable series "Longstreet", James Franciscus played the New Orleans-based insurance agent whose was blinded by an explosion that killed his wife and is determined to continue investigating cases despite his affliction.
The priorities "Longstreet" developer/executive producer Stirling Silliphant had were similar to his earlier shows ("Route 66" and "Naked City", in which Franciscus appeared in the first season): character studies over plot. This is not to say that the show's plots were uninteresting. Franciscus' compelling performance kept my interest, as well as support from Marlyn Mason as assistant Nikki and Peter Mark Richman as Duke.
Most martial arts fans remember the series less for Franciscus and more for Bruce Lee, who played Li Tsung, Longstreet's Jeet Kune Do instructor for just four episodes. Lee made such a strong impression, it's a shame that the producers/writers were unable to incorporate Lee in more episodes. At the same time, if Lee were made a regular, he may have not signed on for "Enter the Dragon" in his tragically short film career.
"Longstreet" was an early success in the show's only season on ABC. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed in mid-season when NBC's "Ironside" moved into the same time slot. ABC canceled "Longstreet" at the last possible moment despite having better ratings than a number of ABC shows.
There are many short-lived series like "Longstreet" that deserve to be rediscovered. I hope CBS/Paramount will consider releasing the series from their large vaults to DVD and web streaming.
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