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Police Chief Paul Lanigan and David Small, a rabbi in Cameron, California, are friends and both solve crimes in the local town. They also spent many evenings socializing but the wives usually got angry when the talk turned to the latest crimes.Written by
J.E. McKillop <email@example.com>
In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Producer Leonard Stern said the series was supposed to have been focused on the character of Rabbi Small, but network sensitivity about a rabbi as a lead series character led to more emphasis on Art Carney's Chief Lanigan. Stern recalled that at one point the network even asked him to make the rabbi "less Jewish". See more »
This show bears only a passing resemblance to Harry Kelleman's novels, only the first of which was filmed (as the series pilot in 1976), and probably wouldn't have been picked up at all if NBC hadn't decided to order it as a backup if "Columbo" didn't produce any new episodes or (as actually happened) "Quincy" did well enough to be launched as an independent series. As it was, it wasn't all that bad. Done by the producers of "McMillan," it presented a new mystery in every episode and featured very fine work by Art Carney, in his first series lead role after working with Jackie Gleason (and after his Best Actor Oscar Award for "Harry and Tonto"). Most of the acting budget went to pay Carney's salary, although a few good guest stars showed up and supporting actors Bruce Solomon (replacing Stuart Margolin from the pilot), Janis Paige and Janet Margolin did professional work. The mysteries were somewhat below the "McMillan" standard, being noticeably unfocused in every episode, but as in the novels, the interaction between Lanigan and Rabbi Small was the main attraction. "CSI" fans probably would have loved the graphic descriptions given of each murder by a coroner (whom Lanigan would invariably shut up in mid-sentence). Art Carney played a very similar character in the cult-hit film "The Late Show" later that year. This show probably deserved a full-season run earlier in the "Sunday Mystery Movie" to see if it built an audience.
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