When a fire at a hotel leaves twelve dead, Quincy goes on the hunt for an arsonist, leading him to discover an arson anonymous group, and a vanity fire starter.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Garry Walberg ...
John S. Ragin ...
Joseph Roman ...
Barbara Stuart ...
Dr. Martha Benedict
Michael Mullins ...
Larry Mitchell
Andy Bergstrom (as Brad Reardon)
Hugh Gillin ...
Denny Stagg
Fire Capt. McKenna
Ted Gehring ...
Mr. Mitchell
Jake Cutter
Captain Rasmussen


When a fire at a hotel leaves twelve dead, Quincy goes on the hunt for an arsonist, leading him to discover an arson anonymous group, and a vanity fire starter.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Mystery | Crime




Release Date:

27 January 1982 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The exterior shot of the fire station is of LA County Station 8 from the tv show Emergency. This station also portrayed Station 10 in the pilot. See more »


There are clearly two buildings portraying the "hotel". A concrete faced residential building is a shown with flames superimposed on it, yet firefighters are entering a glass and steel high rise office building- footage edited in from "The Steel Inferno", a TV movie that ran at the end of EMERGENCY!. See more »


Edited from Emergency! (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Fair and flawed arson episode
15 December 2015 | by See all my reviews

Smoke Screen begins with a young man, Larry Mitchell (Michael Mullins), meeting a woman at a restaurant for what he thinks is a blind date, but she has no idea what he is talking about when he approaches and an altercation ensues when her boyfriend tells him to leave. Later, a hotel building is found burning and 12 people die in the blaze. The police connect Larry to the crime when his past as an arsonist is revealed, but a therapist (Barbara Stuart) who has been working with Larry through a group insists that he is reformed and they have the wrong person. This leads Quincy (Jack Klugman) and a retired arson investigator (Gerald O'Loughlin) to look into the fire and deaths further.

On the positive side, this episode does feature a crime investigation and murder mystery which is less common during Season 7, so I appreciated this aspect. That said, there are some flaws, and as another reviewer astutely pointed out this is yet another Quincy plot which is very similar to a Hawaii Five-O episode (The Sunday Torch) from several years prior. It's like the writers were watching some Hawaii Five-O reruns at the time and just decided to copy them making their jobs easier. For that reason, this gets no points for originality.

I also found the support group scenes and lengths that the therapist was willing to go to be completely unrealistic. Who puts up their own money as bail for a patient accused with no evidence to support his innocence besides your personal belief? I also couldn't believe her pledge to continue running the program until her own finances ran out after government funding for the program was pulled. OK we get that you're dedicated to the cause, but seriously??

One particular highlight was Gerald O'Loughlin who played a Columbo type character as the arson investigator who is equally amusing and effective. All in all, this is a fairly decent Season 7 entry which is flawed but still has enough going for it to make it worth viewing.

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