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Like the only other IMDb.com commentator on this show, I am surprised
that Switch has disappeared into TV Neverland.
On the strength of the cast alone, with a fairly significant star (Robert Wagner), a likable and first-rate character actor (Eddie Albert) and a future TV star, Switch should get receive recognition. Yet no one pays attention. Strange.
Still, the show stands up on its own merits. It had an original premise (which has since been copied more than once), cleverly constructed stories, snappy dialogue, spot-on action, likable characters and first-rate acting. All-round excellent entertainment.
If you get the chance to watch this on a rerun, take a look. You won't regret it.
Switch was an interesting little show, not great, not bad, fairly decent in fact. The premise was retired cop Eddie Albert teams up with retired con man/former adversary Robert Wagner as private eyes with a pre-Cagney and Lacey Sharon Gless as their secretary. Albert and Wagner had an excellent laid back chemistry and some the cases showed some originality and had a pretty high entertainment value. Two interesting notes about the show is I have never seen an article about Sharon Gless or the rest of the cast that even mentions the show and it seems to be completely forgotten in reruns, articles about television or the cast, etc. despite the high visibility of the cast. Second the first two seasons had a very light hearted approach but the last two were considerably darker in tone and far more violent. All in all a decent show that seems to have disappeared down the memory hole. NB Almost a quarter of a century after it first aired and a decade after IMD arrived this it the first comment on it to appear on IMD!
It was an unusual partnership. Pete Ryan was a former con man and Frank
McBride was a retired bunco cop for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Together they had formed a private detective agency that specialized in
pulling "switches" on the other con man still operating on the wrong
side of the law. They would concoct elaborate schemes that
would,hopefully,resulting in the swindlers swindling themselves. Based
in Los Angeles,the two of them traveled far and wide on assorted cases
ranging from con artists to solving crimes and murders within the
status of the city. Malcolm,a small time thief and con man who had gone
straight and opened a restaurant was recruited by Pete and Frank to
help them on cases while Maggie was the firm's combination
secretary-receptionist and all-around girl Friday.
"Switch",was one of the brilliant array of shows that was produced by television mogul Glen A. Larson that ran for three seasons on CBS-TV from the premiere episode on September 9,1975 until the series finale on September 3,1978 producing 68 episodes. The cast was perfect here: You have the great Robert Wagner and the great Eddie Albert in the role of their careers as a con man(Wagner)and a bunco cop(Albert)working together as private detectives on the good side of the law. This was a highly intelligent series with some great stories and not to mention some highly intense action and it was one of the great detective/cop shows that came out of the mid-1970's that had psychological perspective to it. "Switch" was a thinking man's detective show and it shows in some of the great writing this show had that came from not only Glen A. Larson but also from Donald P. Bellisario(who would go on to produced excellent shows like "Quantum Leap", "Mangum P.I.","J.A.G.",and "NCIS").
This show also had the great Sharon Gless(long before her stint on "Cagney and Lacey",one of the great cop shows from the 1980's)as the secretary Maggie,and also comedian Charlie Callas as Malcolm. It was Callas who kept the show's rich humor afloat for the three seasons it ran on the air. Before "Switch" came around in 1975,actor Robert Wagner was known to audiences as secret agent/con-man Al Mundy in the espionage series "It Takes A Thief"(ABC,1968-71),also produced by Glen A. Larson. While Eddie Albert was known for dramas and mostly comedies and before this was seen in the classic rural comedy setting as Oliver Douglass opposite Eva Gabor on "Green Acres"(CBS,1965-71). By the middle of the show's second season,the series went through some changes. First up,it when from being more of a con-man's venture into a straightforward and more traditional detective series,with fewer of the elaborate con games. By the end of what was to be the show's third and final season,Pete moved into a new apartment above Malcolm's bouzouki bar,while newcomer Revel(Mindi Miller)was the hostess and Wang (James Hong)was the new cook. In other words,the show was getting into the style of several other detective shows of that period,basically taking a cue from a classic 1950's P.I. show...Who remembers 77 Sunset Strip? When the show premiered in September of 1975,it was on Tuesday nights opposite ABC's The Rookies(produced by Aaron Spelling),and NBC's Police Story(produced by David Gerber). When the show ended in 1978,due to poor ratings,CBS had no decision to find a show that replaced it..."The Incredible Hulk".
This is another CBS series which started very strong. A lot of that was
the cast. Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert & Sharon Gless are three extreme
talents put together on this series. They were what held the later
The first scripts of this show were extremely intelligent. Wagner playing off Albert & Gless trying to stop the 2 of them from going at each others throats was very effective. The friction gave this show a strong start. The early shows had something special. Charlie Callas helped the early shows too but he strangely stopped appearing after the second season.
Later on in the series, a report about excessive violence on TV came out & CBS reacted by watering down the quality of the action & the parks between Wagner & Albert. Once this happened, the show abruptly lost ratings & got canceled. This was a very good series originally, but if you watch the first shows & then watch the last ones, you will see what I mean about the change.
This was a pretty good detective show. I love the fact that this is one of those hour dramas that really didn't take itself seriously as most detective shows did. This show and "The Rockford Files" had a knack for poking fun at the detective genre. Also, Charlie Callas helped increase the fun factor, especially when Pete and Mac moved their office to the room above Malcolm's restaurant. This is definitely an underrated show.
I only ever saw this series the first (and only) time it was broadcast
in Ireland (remember the 'Spinning Coin' at the start ?). Anyway - I
agree - it was an excellent 'Sting-in-the-Tail' type show - the 'mark'
usually deserved what (s)he got - so in essence we were rooting for the
'bad guys', in the mold of Newman/Redford in the extremely excellent
'The Sting' - a film which NEVER grows stale.
And yes - this is indeed a show which appears to have 'fallen out of Television History' - others being 'Cool Million' and 'It Takes a Thief' - these made Saturday evening viewing (while growing up) a delight.
More please ( but DON'T remake them as movies ! ).
I agree: odd that so much dross is endlessly recycled and yet this
perfectly respectable little series seemed to have disappeared off
everybody's radar. I particularly liked the theme tune written by Stu
Philips and executive producer Glen A Larson.
Perhaps it was the title which seemed to have little to do in the way of describing the action, and even less for the brain to latch on to.... "switch.. Switch?? what on earth was that?"
"A series about a conman and a cop.... Eddie Albert and Robert Vaughan... surely you remember ?... NO?
How it goes sometimes..
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