Burke's Law: Season 2, Episode 11

Who Killed Merlin the Great? (2 Dec. 1964)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Crime
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Escape artist Jack Merlin at a convention of competitive magicians attempts his stock in trade trick of staying under water for five hours sealed in coffin with an hour air supply but he dies - from a gunshot wound.


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Title: Who Killed Merlin the Great? (02 Dec 1964)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Conway ...
Leon Lontoc ...
Nick Adams ...
Max the Mysterious
Dr. McCoy
The Great Grindle
O. B. Danberry (as Charlie Ruggles)
Pinky Likewise
Joan Huntington ...
Dr. Johnson
Hapless Magician
Michael Fox ...
Coroner George McLeod
Ralph Moody ...
Cemetery Caretaker
William Woodson ...
Newscaster (as Bill Woodson)


Escape artist Jack Merlin at a convention of competitive magicians attempts his stock in trade trick of staying under water for five hours sealed in coffin with an hour air supply but he dies - from a gunshot wound.

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Release Date:

2 December 1964 (USA)  »

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

"He's been shot....Dead!"
18 May 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Levinson and Link who would go on to create "Detective Columbo" wrote several of the screenplays for the episodes on BURKE'S LAW. This is one of the best ones...so good it was repeated with a variation years later when Gene Barry did a brief "new series" of episodes in the 1990s.

The story begins with a stunt being readied at a fashionable hotel swimming pool in Hollywood. It's a kind of variant on the tricks that Houdini performed early in the 20th Century. The magician is one "Merlin the Great" (Gil Frye) who is to be chained and locked into trunk which is going to be deposited at the bottom of the swimming pool. Underwater cameras are trained on the trunk for 24 hours while Merlin is submerged. This is to keep a record that nothing has interfered with the trunk (i.e. nobody came down to release Merlin during the night). Merlin is looking around the poolside at the crowd as the chains are being put on him, and then stops as though staring at something. The newsman asks him if he has anything to say. "Yes!", says Merlin, "I will have a special announcement to make after the trick is finished!" Then he descends into the trunk, and then he is committed into the deep.

A day passes, and the crowd returns to see the success or failure of the trick. The trunk is raised, and put onto the side of the pool. Among the onlookers we see Paul Lynde, who is playing the hotel doctor, "Dr. McCoy" in this episode. Lynde watches as the trunk is opened. Suddenly he looks concerned staring down at the magician. He runs over opening his black bag. Putting it down in the trunk Lynde pulls out his stethoscope and starts listening for a heartbeat. He opens the shirt and looks surprised. Then he gets up.

"What's going on?", asks the hotel manager.

"I'm afraid the man is dead.", says Lynde. "He's been shot...Dead!"

For a cool beginning to any of the BURKE'S LAW episodes this could not be beaten. It is a smooth little mystery about how a man in a bound trunk, who did not shoot himself, ends up shot (with a white feather found on him as well). Gene Barry, Gary Conway, and Regis Toomey have a wide number of suspects (including Nick Adams (as a rival magician), Charlie Ruggles, and Jill St. John) to deal with. The conclusion is neat and solid and sensible.

If not the best BURKE'S LAW certainly among the best ones.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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