This series was actually canceled after its first season, but CBS revived it under unusual circumstances. With "Magnum, P.I." coming to an end, CBS was left with empty - and very expensive - studio facilities. The producers of "Jake and the Fat Man" came up with the idea of the Fat Man (J.L. McCabe) retiring from Los Angeles and moving to Hawaii to take up the practice of criminal law, with his investigators coming along. He later became District Attorney for Honolulu. The ratings went up sharply with the move. Apparently, CBS's lease on the Hawaii studio expired during the 1990-91 season, resulting in the show returning to Los Angeles. See more »
It all started during "Matlock's" first season (1986). The sixth episode of that series featured William Conrad as District Attorney James "Fatman" McShane. The next year the producers took this character, changed his name slightly to Jason Lochinvar 'Fatman' McCabe, and with Conrad created the long-running series "Jake and the Fatman". Conrad's deep voice gave him quite a radio/television career, much of it unseen as he played Matt Dillon on the radio version of "Gunsmoke" and did voice-over commentary for "The Fugitive" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle".
The 106 hour-long episodes of this police drama were originally broadcast on CBS from 1987 to 1992. This pending DVD set contains the first half of the 23 episodes from the first season, 21 regular episodes and a two-part pilot, which actually ran "after" the show had premiered.
In some ways the two title characters in the first season of "Jake and the Fatman" could be considered the most authentic looking of any police drama. While Conrad's character on "Cannon" was dubbed "Cannonball" by Mad Magazine, lampooning was unnecessary with the "Fatman" character and Conrad actually seemed to gain weight with each passing episode during the first season. For the second season he slimmed down a bit for their move from Los Angeles to Hawaii, everything is relative. Like "Cannon" he groans and complains but manages to get his man by the end of each episode. But while "Cannon" at least looked presentable, the "Fatman's" grooming makes him look he's been staying in a homeless shelter and staining his tie in soup kitchens.
Of course this was supposed to contrast with his suave police associate Jake Styles (Joe. E. Penny), who cruises for babes in a silver Porsche speedster. But this guy isn't like the squeaky clean detectives on "Hawaiian Eye". As Harry and Wally said: "Jake is some young, oily hotshot who works undercover to do the legwork....Jake looks like the kind of guy who would proposition your fourteen-year-old sister". He did seem slightly more wholesome once the two moved to the Islands but for DVD buyers that won't be until Season Two.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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