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|Index||21 reviews in total|
Ellery Queen, written and produced by the same people who brought us "Murder, She Wrote" nine years later, was ahead of its time with its 1940s atmosphere and mystery plots, older casting and older guest stars. By the time the mid-'80s came around, the demographics had changed enough to make "Murder, She Wrote" a breakout hit -- but in the '70s, that audience wasn't there yet. It's a shame because Ellery Queen was a superior show in every way to the Angela Lansbury series. Hutton and Wayne were perfect as Ellery and the Inspector. John Hillerman, in the beginning episodes, was a radio detective and was preferable to the later budinsky, a newspaper man played by Ken Swofford. The pilot for this series, guest-starring Ray Milland, was one of the best ever made, complete with a radio show that had makeshift sound effects. Guest stars in the series included Tab Hunter, Signe Hasso, Howard Duff, Ida Lupino, Susan Sarandon, Anne Francis, Donald O'Connor, many others. A pity it wasn't a hit - though, done any later, Hutton would not have been alive to play Queen, a role that fit him like a glove.
Whoever chose the cast for this series knew what they were doing! No one could have filled Ellery Queens shoes better than Jim Hutton. He WAS Ellery.....Jim was taken from us much to soon. He was a great actor. David Wayne as Ellery's father was again a great choice. David & Jim made it seem real. Like they were really father & son. I heard rumor that Timothy Hutton (obviously Jim's son) would do a remake of Ellery Queen. Who better to fill his fathers shoes???? It's sad that Jim could not be here to be cast as the father! What a show that would be!
I just watched this show for the very time today on cable's TV Land (Sunday
box set special), and I, too, agree with everyone else about how excellent
show this was. I happened to catch the episode with Eve Arden as a radio
soap opera actress murdered, and through it's good writing as well as
acting, I was immediately sucked in. Other guest cast members were Betty
White and John Hillerman.
I look forward to seeing this show again and hope that someone out there gets the smarts to make this available on home video.
"Ellery Queen" was one of the most entertaining TV series ever aired.
Part of the fun was that it took place in the Big Apple in 1947 and
with one exception looked it to a "T." But the most fun was the moment
near the end of the show when Ellery would get the all-important
missing clue necessary to nab the killer is nothing short of classic
Ellery would tell whoever else he was with that he'd be right with them, then stop, turn and face the camera. "Now that was an important clue! Did you get it? Now I know who killed the victim. Do you? Was it so-and-so, or so-and-so/ Or could it have been so-and-so? Let find out." So marvelously entertaining! And totally unique to television, regardless of era.
It's cast, stories, plots and guest stars made for a guaranteed good time at least one hour a week without fail.
Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) was ideal as the absent-minded genius mystery novelist. Veteran David Wayne was letter perfect as Ellery's father, NYPD Homicide Inspector Richard Queen. The two made quite a team, playing off each other brilliantly. There was definite screen chemistry at work and, one get's the impression the actors shared a genuine friendship and respect for the other.
The only thing that didn't fit was star Jim Hutton's insistence on wearing clothes and hair far more in line with the years the show aired (1974-75)than post WWII. Cordoroy flair pants simply were not anywhere close to being in fashion back then, but they sure were in 1975.
If they'd only bring back shows that had that kind of pure fun! And what fun!
For top entertainment and well written stories, an excellent cast and great acting, I have to recommend "Ellery Queen". Jim Hutton made the best Queen ever, I especially liked the way he would often speak to the audience about the crime. The mysteries were some of the best I have ever seen, completely involving. A totally great TV show I wish would have lasted longer.
Ellery Queen was one of the greatest television programs of the seventies,
and given the short history of the medium, that makes it one of the greatest
of all time. Splendid atmosphere, above-average acting and writing, and a
wonderful gimmick -- the way Ellery (Jim Hutton) would turn to the camera
and tell viewers that they'd already seen all the clues that were necessary
to solve the mystery. What separated Ellery Queen from shows like Perry
Mason was the fact that it played fair -- everything you needed to know was
presented during the first 45 minutes, and if you were smart enough you
could figure it out yourself.
Perhaps my view is colored by nostalgia -- I was 13 years old when the show aired. The show is rarely repeated -- the last time I caught a rerun was more than 20 years ago. It's hard to know whether my viewpoint would be different today, though I certainly wish I had the opportunity to find out. (Universal Studios, take note: Here's one guy who would buy the DVD box set.)
Let me add a story here. I remember going door to door one night in 1976, collecting payments for my newspaper route, and I noticed that a family was gathered in the living room, watching "Ellery Queen."
"Heck," I said. "I started watching that show, but it was so easy to figure out, I decided I might as well go around banging on doors instead."
They looked at me, a little dumbfounded. "You figured it out?"
"Sure," I said. "The killer had to be someone who had a copy of the updated movie script. There was only one person who had the copy, and that was..."
Well, I can't remember the actual name of the villain, not all these years later. But I remember these people looking at each other, and saying it made sense, and darned if I might be right, and they'd have to stay tuned to see if I really did figure it out. And of course I was right. For weeks, every time I saw these people, it was all they could talk about. How on earth could I have figured it out? Of all people, their 13-year-old paperboy?
I never did tell them the episode was a repeat.
The show Ellery Queen was not only great to watch, but gave us what would be the format of other mystery programs such as Murder She Wrote. I remember watching Ellery Queen as a child, and it, along with Agatha Christie's books started my enjoyment of a good mystery. I only wish it were on video so I could watch it again! It also exposed me to actors that I would watch either in later tv series (such as Magnum PI) or movies (like Jim Hutton & Cary Grant's "Walk, don't run". An entertaining series, with the knack for making the audience think, the element of surprise and detail make this an act worth following (and in the case of Murder she wrote, a successful one).
Jim Hutton is one of the best actors to come out of Hollywood. His performance in the Green Berets with John Wayne is memorable and you come to connect with his character in a very intimate way. As Ellery Queen, Jim Hutton really became the character he played. His boyish good looks, mannerism, and characterizations where beyond measure. The show itself was very well written and the guest actors where also exceptional. I remember waiting in anticipation each week to watch the show. Every show was riveting and the plot superb. The series became the measuring stick I used to judge the quality of other mystery movies and series ever since. It was a great loss to the industry when he died from liver cancer.
And thus we approach the wrap-up for another Ellery Queen mystery. This direct audience involvement was just one of the great touches in this all-to-brief series. "You have all the clues..." Well - yes and no. For example, it might have helped to know that, in 1940's Manhattan, telephone numbers were 6 digits long, not the 7 digits we knew in the 70's, so the victim was REALLY dialing...(I won't give it away). OTOH, I had to stop reading TV Guide when I watched this show. This was back in the days when TV Guide had to stretch to fill pages, so they not only gave story synopses, they printed Guest Cast lists for network series. But unfortunately it seemed that The Killer was always listed first in the Guest Cast (or second if the victim was first.) And that was a clue that even dear Ellery lacked!
My wife and I really looked forward to watching this show every week during its all too short run. Jim Hutton was excellent as the boyish but shrewd Ellery, David Wayne was outstanding as his father, Inspector Queen and Tom Reese was terrific as the lumbering Sergeant Velie. John Hillerman, later Magnum's sidekick, was super as the arrogant Simon Brimmer, Ellery's rival, and Ken Swofford was good as the down to earth reporter, Frank Flanagan. The mysteries were enacted and the clues spread around so you could play at home. I don't think we got more than a couple right. Some of the shows were adapted from the Ellery Queen books and some were originals, but all were very fine quality. Very good guest stars were featured every week, some were up and coming, but many were old veterans. I would love to get this on DVD.
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