Ellery Queen (TV Series 1975–1976) Poster

(1975–1976)

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ahead of its time
blanche-214 February 2001
Ellery Queen, written and produced by the same people who brought us "Murder, She Wrote" nine years later, was ahead of its time with its 1940s atmosphere and mystery plots, older casting and older guest stars. By the time the mid-'80s came around, the demographics had changed enough to make "Murder, She Wrote" a breakout hit -- but in the '70s, that audience wasn't there yet. It's a shame because Ellery Queen was a superior show in every way to the Angela Lansbury series. Hutton and Wayne were perfect as Ellery and the Inspector. John Hillerman, in the beginning episodes, was a radio detective and was preferable to the later budinsky, a newspaper man played by Ken Swofford. The pilot for this series, guest-starring Ray Milland, was one of the best ever made, complete with a radio show that had makeshift sound effects. Guest stars in the series included Tab Hunter, Signe Hasso, Howard Duff, Ida Lupino, Susan Sarandon, Anne Francis, Donald O'Connor, many others. A pity it wasn't a hit - though, done any later, Hutton would not have been alive to play Queen, a role that fit him like a glove.
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A wonderfully entertaining show!
estabansmythe27 November 2005
"Ellery Queen" was one of the most entertaining TV series ever aired. Part of the fun was that it took place in the Big Apple in 1947 and with one exception looked it to a "T." But the most fun was the moment near the end of the show when Ellery would get the all-important missing clue necessary to nab the killer is nothing short of classic TV.

Ellery would tell whoever else he was with that he'd be right with them, then stop, turn and face the camera. "Now that was an important clue! Did you get it? Now I know who killed the victim. Do you? Was it so-and-so, or so-and-so/ Or could it have been so-and-so? Let find out." So marvelously entertaining! And totally unique to television, regardless of era.

It's cast, stories, plots and guest stars made for a guaranteed good time at least one hour a week without fail.

Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) was ideal as the absent-minded genius mystery novelist. Veteran David Wayne was letter perfect as Ellery's father, NYPD Homicide Inspector Richard Queen. The two made quite a team, playing off each other brilliantly. There was definite screen chemistry at work and, one get's the impression the actors shared a genuine friendship and respect for the other.

The only thing that didn't fit was star Jim Hutton's insistence on wearing clothes and hair far more in line with the years the show aired (1974-75)than post WWII. Cordoroy flair pants simply were not anywhere close to being in fashion back then, but they sure were in 1975.

If they'd only bring back shows that had that kind of pure fun! And what fun!
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Excellent!
Itsamoomoo2 July 2000
I just watched this show for the very time today on cable's TV Land (Sunday box set special), and I, too, agree with everyone else about how excellent a show this was. I happened to catch the episode with Eve Arden as a radio soap opera actress murdered, and through it's good writing as well as acting, I was immediately sucked in. Other guest cast members were Betty White and John Hillerman.

I look forward to seeing this show again and hope that someone out there gets the smarts to make this available on home video.
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Great Casting
ellery9913 June 1999
Whoever chose the cast for this series knew what they were doing! No one could have filled Ellery Queens shoes better than Jim Hutton. He WAS Ellery.....Jim was taken from us much to soon. He was a great actor. David Wayne as Ellery's father was again a great choice. David & Jim made it seem real. Like they were really father & son. I heard rumor that Timothy Hutton (obviously Jim's son) would do a remake of Ellery Queen. Who better to fill his fathers shoes???? It's sad that Jim could not be here to be cast as the father! What a show that would be!
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A mystery classic!
xbrinton5 June 2000
The show Ellery Queen was not only great to watch, but gave us what would be the format of other mystery programs such as Murder She Wrote. I remember watching Ellery Queen as a child, and it, along with Agatha Christie's books started my enjoyment of a good mystery. I only wish it were on video so I could watch it again! It also exposed me to actors that I would watch either in later tv series (such as Magnum PI) or movies (like Jim Hutton & Cary Grant's "Walk, don't run". An entertaining series, with the knack for making the audience think, the element of surprise and detail make this an act worth following (and in the case of Murder she wrote, a successful one).
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Awesome Series and Awesome Actor
timothyadams19 April 2005
Jim Hutton is one of the best actors to come out of Hollywood. His performance in the Green Berets with John Wayne is memorable and you come to connect with his character in a very intimate way. As Ellery Queen, Jim Hutton really became the character he played. His boyish good looks, mannerism, and characterizations where beyond measure. The show itself was very well written and the guest actors where also exceptional. I remember waiting in anticipation each week to watch the show. Every show was riveting and the plot superb. The series became the measuring stick I used to judge the quality of other mystery movies and series ever since. It was a great loss to the industry when he died from liver cancer.
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"Have you figured it out yet?"
And thus we approach the wrap-up for another Ellery Queen mystery. This direct audience involvement was just one of the great touches in this all-to-brief series. "You have all the clues..." Well - yes and no. For example, it might have helped to know that, in 1940's Manhattan, telephone numbers were 6 digits long, not the 7 digits we knew in the 70's, so the victim was REALLY dialing...(I won't give it away). OTOH, I had to stop reading TV Guide when I watched this show. This was back in the days when TV Guide had to stretch to fill pages, so they not only gave story synopses, they printed Guest Cast lists for network series. But unfortunately it seemed that The Killer was always listed first in the Guest Cast (or second if the victim was first.) And that was a clue that even dear Ellery lacked!
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A mystery show that actually played fair
erikpsmith24 August 2004
Ellery Queen was one of the greatest television programs of the seventies, and given the short history of the medium, that makes it one of the greatest of all time. Splendid atmosphere, above-average acting and writing, and a wonderful gimmick -- the way Ellery (Jim Hutton) would turn to the camera and tell viewers that they'd already seen all the clues that were necessary to solve the mystery. What separated Ellery Queen from shows like Perry Mason was the fact that it played fair -- everything you needed to know was presented during the first 45 minutes, and if you were smart enough you could figure it out yourself.

Perhaps my view is colored by nostalgia -- I was 13 years old when the show aired. The show is rarely repeated -- the last time I caught a rerun was more than 20 years ago. It's hard to know whether my viewpoint would be different today, though I certainly wish I had the opportunity to find out. (Universal Studios, take note: Here's one guy who would buy the DVD box set.)

Let me add a story here. I remember going door to door one night in 1976, collecting payments for my newspaper route, and I noticed that a family was gathered in the living room, watching "Ellery Queen."

"Heck," I said. "I started watching that show, but it was so easy to figure out, I decided I might as well go around banging on doors instead."

They looked at me, a little dumbfounded. "You figured it out?"

"Sure," I said. "The killer had to be someone who had a copy of the updated movie script. There was only one person who had the copy, and that was..."

Well, I can't remember the actual name of the villain, not all these years later. But I remember these people looking at each other, and saying it made sense, and darned if I might be right, and they'd have to stay tuned to see if I really did figure it out. And of course I was right. For weeks, every time I saw these people, it was all they could talk about. How on earth could I have figured it out? Of all people, their 13-year-old paperboy?

I never did tell them the episode was a repeat.
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9/10
Almost Perfect
Wayner5022 January 2007
My wife and I really looked forward to watching this show every week during its all too short run. Jim Hutton was excellent as the boyish but shrewd Ellery, David Wayne was outstanding as his father, Inspector Queen and Tom Reese was terrific as the lumbering Sergeant Velie. John Hillerman, later Magnum's sidekick, was super as the arrogant Simon Brimmer, Ellery's rival, and Ken Swofford was good as the down to earth reporter, Frank Flanagan. The mysteries were enacted and the clues spread around so you could play at home. I don't think we got more than a couple right. Some of the shows were adapted from the Ellery Queen books and some were originals, but all were very fine quality. Very good guest stars were featured every week, some were up and coming, but many were old veterans. I would love to get this on DVD.
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10/10
Really entertaining, should have lasted longer though
TheLittleSongbird11 June 2010
I love murder mysteries, they are often so gripping, compelling and fun, everything Ellery Queen is. If anything, as I have said already in the review title, this show should have lasted longer, I saw no real reason why it ended the way it did. The stories are entertaining and keep me interested and sometimes surprised at the outcome, and the dialogue has plenty of intelligence and wit. The series is also well-photographed with nice use of locations and the music was a great touch. Jim Hutton was a very ideal choice for the absent-minded and clever Ellery Queen, and David Wayne(who I was introduced to after seeing the underrated musical biopic Tonight We Sing) is note-perfect as the Inspector. There have also been some very effective guest stars, too many to list really right now, as well. Overall, this was a really entertaining show, that ended too soon. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Hope this is on VHS by now...
occupant-125 December 2001
One of the great casting feats of series television, ranking with the original "Star Trek" crew, the Carol Burnett sidekick stable and the "Bonanza" Cartwrights. It's a shame there were so few episodes made; this is a prime candidate for reissue in whatever form. High quality mystery writing, and with a little more action than say, Miss Marple.
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10/10
An excellent precursor to Murder, She Wrote
midnight_raider200119 February 2007
One of my favorite TV series of all time was this show, a must-watch leading into the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. Done by the same creative team that had given us "Columbo," "Ellery Queen" did that show one better by giving us a mystery to solve each week while using the same patterns of intricate clues that had made "Columbo" such a hit. I think NBC had high hopes for this show: it looks like they spent big money on it, meticulously re-creating New York City in the 1940s on Hollywood sets, getting the big-name guest stars, hiring a top-notch writing staff, and possibly giving the directors extra time to film and get things right. Maybe the show was too high-class for television, especially 1970s television, when Norman Lear's in-your-face, ultra-modern sitcoms ruled and Garry Marshall's escapist sitcoms were about to head for the top, while the dramas were epitomized by The Six Million Dollar Man (which was Ellery's competition during much of the year). TV networks always try to stay with the trends, although it seems like they always catch the trends at the tail end. Ellery was also Family Viewing Time material, after a programming edict by the networks which never caught on. But it even compares well with the immortal Murder, She Wrote, which came along a few years later (in the same time period) and became a 12-year hit. Catch the predecessor series if you can to see how the production team did it at their best.
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10/10
One of the best TV mystery shows
dbborroughs16 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Jim Hutton stars as sleuth Ellery Queen in one of TV's great unsung mystery shows. The stories, set in the 1940's, have Queen a mystery writer and son of the police commissioner getting involved in various murders. What was unique about the series was that before the audience was told who done it Queen would address the audience and ask them if they had solved the crime. It was an odd show both because they acknowledged the audience but also because the writers were scrupulously fair in the plotting. All of the clues are there. This is one of my favorite shows and I've seen all of the episodes any number of times and I never tire of seeing them. The best part is that all of the episodes are good. I don't think there is a dog in the bunch. If you ever get a chance to see this series (if we are ever blessed with a real DVD release) you should make an effort to see this.
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9/10
available on DVD from Netflix
paige-595-96449616 October 2010
This is available on DVD, from NBC Universal/Entertainment1.

Netflix has the entire series. I just received disc 1 today. The recording quality is good, and each disc contains three or four episodes.

"In a few minutes, this woman will be dead. The question is, who killed her? Was it the philandering . . . ." That is how each episode begins. As a kid, I loved this show and couldn't wait to hear that line each week. I remember thinking that the show was smart and sophisticated. Watching it now, 35 years later, it is still quality viewing.

I would give it a 10 if it weren't for the anachronistic clothes, hairstyles, etc. It is supposed to be 1946, but it looks more like 1976.
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9/10
Good stuff
SanteeFats22 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Why this show only lasted for 23 episodes is far beyond me. This was a very well done show. The acting was excellent, the casting was spot on. Jim Hutton as Ellery Queen plays a very absent minded mystery writer/detective who manages to over come this to actually solve cases, David Wayne (a very good character actor) plays the father who is also a police department inspector, and Tom Reese as the sergeant are a rare case of great casting. The plots are intriguing and well written. The guest stars are generally excellent and do a very good job in their roles. This series not only had the mysteries that come with this kind of a show but also had its moments of good humor.
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Smart and Fun
Dvd Avins7 May 2002
The entire casting and pacing are great, and it's one of the rare TV series that of the era that doesn't strive for the dim-witted portion of the potential audience. I'm 95% straight, Hutton/Ellery's brains and charm reminds me why it's only 95%. I hope it comes out on video someday.
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10/10
Excellent performance! Perfect writing!
bd64kcmo21 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is a prime example of what TV can be. I enjoy the mental puzzle it presents, instead of the mass feeding of special effects, over-driven color, and whatnot of CSI Miami and shows like it. The perps are portrayed as human beings with motives, not these diabolical one dimensional monsters you see so much.

I just watched "The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer" featuring the late Ed McMahon who played an inventor considered formerly brilliant, but now considered senile, working in his electric model train workshop in a quest to engineer automation into the economy. The dialogue spoke of "toy" trains (which hearkens back to another memorable quote in "The Flight Of The Phoenix" (1965) concerning "toy" airplanes). The engineer "programmed" (their words) the trains to stop for gate lowing and open switches, and used a spur to send messages with the main house.

Anyway, my two cents.

Brian
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One of the best mystery shows ever produced.
coachayers14 September 2011
I first watched this series after graduating from college. It was agonizing when Ellery turned and said "do you know who did it?" I'd scream NO! and quickly tear through my notes during the commercials to try to figure it out before the show returned. I recently bought the series on DVD and now, 35 years I am trying again to match wits with a little more success. This is the forerunner to Monk which repeated the concept of showing you all the clues and making you THINK instead of feeding you the answer. This is one of the most mind exercising series that has ever graced the tube. Too bad there were not dozens of episodes more than th one season. It was a jewel in what has been called a vast wasteland.
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10/10
Do You Know Why This Series Was Killed & Who Dun It?
DKosty1231 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is the best series to ever be axed in one season. The pilot ran as an episode of the NBC Mystery Movie. Ironically, the first regular season episode ran on September 11, 1975. The mystery of why a show so well produced got the axe so quickly.

The producers, Richard Levinson & William Link got an inspiration for this series for a simple reason. They were producing another show, Columbo, where they always told the audience the murderer at the beginning of the show and then amazed the audience entertaining it by showing Columbo doggedly trying to find the person we already knew did it.

This shows starts off by challenging the audience on who Kiele the victim. It starts with a teaser dangling the victim & the suspects. Then it goes through the show with Ellery issuing a final challenge near the end of the show, and then reveal the killer in the finale. It is as opposite of Columbo as you can get.

The casting for this show is perfect. Jim Hutton is perfect as Ellery Queen. David Wayne is perfect and Inspector Richard Queen, his father. The interplay between these actors has an irresistible chemistry. The guest casts were major league. The stories were good. That leaves us with the mystery, why did the show fail? Did NBC hire a bumbling rating agency that gave this show low numbers to kill it? Did the NBC execs put it in a bad time slot trying to kill it? Did Levinson & Link just develop this as practice before they got Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) hired to take the same format to higher ratings on CBS? Was there somebody else trying to kill it? Did the Love Boat need to borrow the guest casts the show was using? Was it somebody else like Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford? One thing the show does is recreate the 1940's atmosphere very well for a television show. What is left is a show that is great program that could have been more popular. Sadly, we are still looking for the killer.
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9/10
This is the board game "Clue" cleverly brought to life for the sleuth fans television audience
Ed-Shullivan15 February 2017
I remember watching Ellery Queen back in 1975 which introduced a brand new whodunit mystery murder each week. Then in the last ten (10) minutes of the show, mystery writer Ellery Queen (Jim Hutton) would always look directly in to the camera lens at his viewing audience, and as if we were all participating in a stage play Ellery Queen would provide a recap of all the clues and prospective suspects who may be guilty of the murder(s) and Ellery would invite us the TV audience to try and solve the murder(s) along with him.

Much like the very popular decades old board game "Clue" there are usually five (5) or six (6) murder suspects introduced in each weekly episode and as the clues are gradually provided to the audience we are challenged along side Ellery Queen to figure out who murdered the victim who gets knocked off within the first five minutes of the weekly episode and with which weapon did the murderer use? There are numerous cameo appearances by stars such as Don Ameche, Joan Collins, Ray Milland, Jim Backus, Lynda Day George, Eva Gabor, Rhonda Fleming, and Betty White to name but a few of the cameo appearances.

Not only was the concept of watching a murder unfold before our very eyes interesting but so were the changing cast of characters each week and Ellery's interaction with his TV audience. Mrs. Shullivan and I were engaged in the program and enjoyed playing along side in determining how the mystery writer Ellery Queen and his detective father Inspector Richard Queen (David Wayne) would gather clues and they would interview the ensemble of movie stars who provided cameo appearances to a successful conclusion within the hour. Ellery himself plays a successful mystery writer, who although in his late 30's still lives with his father the Inspector Richard Queen. Ellery appears to be a bumbling and forgetful individual on the surface who always seems to have his nose buried in a book, but his unique ability to assist his father in solving murders and the warm on screen relationship he has with his father shows through seamlessly on this small screen TV series.

I was fortunate to recently purchase the 1975 Ellery Queen TV series on DVD format at a very reasonable price and so Mrs. Shullivan and I are in the process of watching this excellent TV mystery series commercial free. We have been reminiscing about the series regulars such as gumshoe detective sidekick Sergeant Thomas Velie (played by Tom Reese) and radio host Simon Brimmer (John Hillerman) who are also trying to match wits with Ellery Queen and his father Inspector Richard Queen in finding the killer(s).

In case you have not seen this wonderful mystery series it was the pre-cursor to the more successful 1984 Murder She Wrote TV series. I am not sure why the series was cancelled after the first season other than during the 1970's TV audiences may have found some other action/drama series that were more violent, sex infused and drug infested more appealing.

As for Mrs. Shullivan and I this 1975 weekly mystery series that was set after World War 2 in the 1940's with vintage cars and like scenery provided us with 22 episodes of high caliber entertainment and intrigue that challenges your recollection for what appear to be minor incidents but in fact if you pay close attention these details will provide all the clues necessary to help solve the weekly murder(s).

It is too bad we only have one (1) season of 22 episodes of Ellery Queen available and even more unfortunate that the series star Jim Hutton sadly passed away from liver cancer at the young age of only 45. Maybe Jim Hutton's own son 1981 Academy Award winner, Timothy Hutton who is now aged 56 will consider resurrecting this terrific mystery series in a remake. Wouldn't that be great?

I give this excellent but short-lived mystery series a 9 out of 10 rating.
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8/10
Good Fun
dgz785 May 2018
I remember watching these shows as a young teenager. As a kid I read all the Poirot stories from Agatha Christie so I liked mysteries and these shows gave one an opportunity to figure things out and use your brain.

But the thing I was surprised at were the guest stars each week. As a kid I had no idea who Eddie Bracken or Ann Reinking were but after watching every episode on dvd I amazed that every episode has big name guests.

If you're a fan of dark mysteries this may be too mild for you. But in the end it's a good clean fun for the entire family.
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10/10
One of the best mystery series of all time!
cammieman13 October 2017
I loved this TV show and its very sad to have lost a great actor such as Jim Hutton. This show would have ran into 5 to 6 seasons if he had lived. I feel EQ was a great program and its too bad it ended. I thank God we had a chance for the 23 episodes that were made. A+ job J. Hutton.
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8/10
Made with style and is usually intriguing.
alexanderdavies-9938212 August 2017
"Ellery Queen Mysteries" was a Detective television series that had a genuine sense of mystery about it, as the identity of the murderer wasn't revealed until the end. This worked to the shows favour. Wisely, the setting was that of the 1940s as that was when the Ellery Queen character first surfaced. Jim Hutton as the title character and his father played by David Wayne, would investigate various crimes of homicide. A group of suspects and red herrings would be assembled by the end of the episode, so that Queen could give his deliberations. The series only lasted one season which I think is a bit of a shame. There were 22 episodes altogether and whilst they are very good, I feel that more could have been made. Once again, "Universal" was the studio behind this show.
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10/10
Great Show, Didn't Last Long
aramis-112-80488029 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Ellery Queen" (a mystery writer/character whose stories were published for decades) was one of those shows popular in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s suitable for family viewing. With only three major TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC--hey are those guys still in business?) they tried to attract the optimum number of viewers by bringing in genuine stars of yesterday, "today," and tomorrow (also think "Murder, She Wrote", "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat").

The stars of yesterday from movies and radios were dangerously close to has-been status, if they hadn't already crossed that line (Mel Ferrer, Arthur Godfrey, Eddie Bracken, Donald O'Connor, Farley Granger, Ray Milland and even George Burns, in the same year his career was inexplicably revived in "The Sunshine Boys").

"Stars of Today" were mostly picked off recently-ended or then ongoing television shows (Bob Crane, Eva Gabor, Gary Burghoff, David Doyle, Gretchen Corbett, Pernell Roberts, David Hedison, Ken Berry, Dick Van Patten) while others were famous for appearances in game shows, guest-shots on TV shows or commercials (Eugene Roach, Orson Bean, Barbara Rhoades, Jesse White, Lloyd Bochner, Simon Oakland, Roddy McDowell, etc.).

"Rising Stars of 1975" barely merit a mention since few of them caught fire. Some of us who were in school then might have asked "Whatever happened to" some of the big has-beens who lived off and fed on these shows, but the real "Whatever happened to" people are the "rising talent" of 1975. Whatever happened to Ann Reinking, Renne Jarrett, Brad David, Erica Hagen or Susan Stafford?

The mysteries were sometimes quite obtuse. In the interest of fair play all the relevant clues were presented. Two rotating characters, a news reporter (Ken Swofford) and a radio mystery solver (John Hillerman, later of Magnum--a legitimate rising star), neither of whom appear in Ellery Queen stories, run their own simultaneous investigations, naming false suspects and weeding them out.

The catch to "Ellery Queen" (as with many of the books written under that name) is that near the climax of nearly every show star Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) turns to the camera and challenges the audience in the nicest possible way to name the killer ahead of him, even handing us pertinent clues we might have missed.

Killing for fun plays a little differently on television than in books by masters like Christie, Allingham, Carr, etc. "Ellery Queen" softened the blow when some of the biggest stars appearing on the show were the victims. These days, however, when we have viewers who know not Tom Bosley, Eve Arden, Ed McMahon, Rudy Valee or Walter Pidgeon, the killings may seem more cruel than when "Ellery Queen" was produced. Back in the day it was fun seeing Johnny Carson's sidekick or Ronny Howard's second TV-dad knocked off.

The show was lavishly produced (which might have spelled its doom) with great period cars and clothes circa 1947. It's one of the loveliest shows ever on air.

But the beating heart of "Ellery Queen" was the relationship between gawky, absent-minded mystery author Ellery (Jim Hutton) and his no-nonsense police inspector dad (David Wayne). They have an obvious fondness for each other, and they bat the clues back and forth in jovial banter. The show also makes the most of their height differential, Hutton being 6'-4" like the Republican Lincoln, Wayne being 5'-7".

The show had style, a great family relationship between the two leads, and tons of familiar faces for fans of old movies and TV shows. One or two shows stray into serious territory, and some of its writers make ill-advised 1970s political statements when they should have kept their traps shut. Mostly, however, the shows are classy and fun for people of all ages and political orientations. If you like you may keep a scorecard of clues (or what you think are clues) or you can just sit back and enjoy it for Jim Hutton's winsomeness and the relationship he has with his father, which is even better bonded than Jim Rockford's. I was a schoolboy when it first aired and I still watch the DVDs with my father, who is closing in on 90.
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