This brief revival of the 1960s cop thriller continued the adventures of Amos Burke, a senior Los Angeles police officer and millionaire. By now, Burke was a widower with a son, Peter, who ...
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A famous magician named Alexander is murdered while performing a trick in front of other magicians, and no one can figure out how it was accomplished. Peter and Amos realize the other magicians were ...
Amos Burke was a Los Angeles chief of detectives who was also a millionaire with a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, a mansion, and a high-wheeling lifestyle. The hallmarks of this series were ... See full summary »
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This brief revival of the 1960s cop thriller continued the adventures of Amos Burke, a senior Los Angeles police officer and millionaire. By now, Burke was a widower with a son, Peter, who was a detective under his command. The revival continued many of the hallmarks of the old show: glamorous backgrounds, convoluted plots and big-name guest stars. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was my first exposure to Burke's Law...I had never seen the original until a few years ago (I could tell you why I passed up opportunities in the past to see the original, but it's a ridiculous reason not to watch a TV show, you'd laugh, I'd have to kill you, and I really don't want to do that). I did, however, watch and enjoy other shows with Gene Barry (Bat Masterson, Name of the Game, even The Adventurer), so I was looking forward to seeing the still-dashing Barry race to the scene of the latest homicide in the flashy Bentley (and yes, it IS a Bentley and not a Rolls, as one episode in this series makes a point about it). I found out that Aaron Spelling was trying as early as 1981 to get Barry to reprise the role.
So...what do we have here? A lot has changed in the almost-30 years since the original series ended...apparently, Amos quit the spy business (which is what he was involved in when the series was canceled midway through the '65-'66 season), returned to the force and worked his way up from Captain of Homicide to Chief of Detectives. We're also led to believe that he gave up his freewheeling bachelor ways, settled down, got married, had a child, became a widower (one of the most poignant scenes in the series occurs when Amos and his son visit the grave of his late wife, Sarah, at the end of one episode). Speaking of his son, Peter (played by Peter Barton of Powers of Matthew Star and The Young and the Restless) is a real chip off the old block...he's handsome, quite a draw for the ladies (just like his old man), and most importantly, he's a cop as well, and is his dad's sidekick, doing all the physical stuff that Tim Tilson and Les Hart did in the original series.
The series in itself features the same quirky murder mysteries that the original did...a hated fashion designer killed by a tiny arrow from an ice sculpture, a 'celebrity' lifeguard drowned in his own pool, a temperamental tennis star named Spider being fatally bitten by a black widow spider, to name a few. One story, Who Killed Alexander the Great?, about a magician who goes into an airtight coffin in a pool very much alive but is dead from a gunshot wound when the coffin is opened, was lifted from the original series (where it was done as Who Killed Merlin the Great?). The episode's writers, Richard Levinson and William Link, also used it as the pilot for their short-lived magic/detective series Blacke's Magic. The new version adds a couple of interesting tweaks, but on the whole, cannot compare to the original.
And that is what seems to be the case for the entire show...there are interesting story ideas, but once you've seen the original (which I finally did), this is an awful pale comparison. Occasionally, you will see folks who guested on the original series dusted off to make an appearance (Rita Moreno, Anne Francis, Edd Byrnes, Marty Ingels, Frankie Avalon), but mostly it's a huge sea of familiar TV faces, including some of Barry's fellow action stars (Mike Connors, Robert Culp, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), stunt casting (Downtown Julie Brown, Dusty Rhodes) and a heaping helping of Spelling's 90210/Melrose Place gang. It seems like one of those kids is moonlighting in every episode of the show, including not one but TWO appearances by Tori Spelling, one of those an uncredited cameo.
And to the poster who mentioned people like Hugh O'Brien, Richard Crenna, Karl Malden, Patrick Macnee, Barbara Bain, Peter Lupus and Karl Malden...what show were you watching anyhow? I saw every episode of this series, and I can tell you, unless they were cleverly disguised as scenery, NONE of those actors appeared on Burke's Law! And while Carolyn Jones (the former Mrs. Spelling) did appear on the original series, it would've been some trick if she appeared on this version, as she'd been dead for a decade by the time it debuted.
Final thoughts...it's OK viewing, fun to see 75-year-old Gene Barry still looking dapper and dashing off quips and Mary Worth-like advice to everyone he meets, but the original, in glorious black-and-white, is still the one to seek out for all-star casts having a ball with quirky mysteries. My grade...6 out of 10.
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