Mannix is Coming! (All things Mannix w/spoilers)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Hank Dearborn, Sep 20, 2007.

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  1. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Harry,
    This is great!!!
    I wonder if he is going to post more of these!!
     
  2. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    David,
    I just can't thank you enough for this post -- and it came at a particularly good time, too.
    This is probably the first time in my life I have ever been described as "giddy" but, in the context of this thread, I am happy to accept the label.
    The way you describe having purchased the series sight unseen and that it is fast becoming your favorite show of all time -- I so wanted to see someone post something like this these past nearly two years now.
    Mannix is so much better than people give it credit for, having been caught up, I believe, in some distortions these past years for all sorts of PC reasons that Baby Boomers adopted without even realizing it. In this case, those PC things obscure something far more important to us as human beings -- what heroism in story really means to us, why character matters, and how beautiful it is to be a tough individual who can manage to find a way to work beside "the system" -- not outside of it, nor cowed by it.
    The more I think about the series in the context of all sorts of things, the better Mannix holds up. I still find this amazing. So, when you say it is becoming your favorite show, that makes complete sense to me -- even as I so appreciate your saying it.
    Mannix is actually often praised for its production qualities, and those were surely something I came to expect but took for granted during its first run. When I compare it to other series I watched back then, it just seemed so much more polished. I guess that's because it was. Heck, I've even seen people praise the camera man on Mannix, which, since it was shot with a single camera, really does make a difference!
    Add to that the symbolism, the score, the settings, the pacing, the story, the way MC inhabited and invented the role, what the character was all about, and you really do get something very special.
    As for Goff and Roberts, I really don't mean to short-change the plots in Mannix, nor their role in making the series a classic. Mannix certainly is characterized by extremely interesting and well-done plots. But, since so many other series wound up being ALL about plot (ranging from Mission: Impossible to Colombo to Murder She Wrote), all I wanted to say was that Mannix is about so much more than that. That "so much more" is what makes so many episodes and scenes re-watchable, something even worth thinking about more in the context of those characters as you re-watch them, even after you know how the plot is going to turn out.
    I'm sure Goff and Roberts contributed to that, as well. Heck, Ben Roberts wrote the incredible, "A World Between" which dealt with the Joe-Peggy relationship in a brilliant way. In that episode, and in so many others, Mannix was masterful at mis-direction, so that something subtle and more significant would get through to you while you were supposed to be paying attention to the otherwise well-done plot! This was also brilliantly done with respect to racism in "Death in a Minor Key." Those episodes were both brilliantly constructed and acted -- most especially when you consider the racial climate back then.
    Ben Roberts also wrote a couple of other Mannix episodes, if memory serves, "The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress" and "The Survivor Who Wasn't." Curiously, he is credited with writing the story, but not the screenplay (in the opening credits of those episodes). Each of those episodes include some great scenes that establish qualities of character. And, I have no doubt that Goff and Roberts, along with Connors, cared a lot about consistent, well-done, qualities of character. It comes across that everyone seemed to care about that series, right down to the nude art!
    What I do not understand is why Goff and Roberts went off and did Charlie's Angels right after Mannix! Having watched a few episodes of that series, and seeing their names there, in the way I saw them on Mannix so many times, I distinctly remember wondering what the heck was happening to the world. It didn't help that I missed Mannix so much, and not only did nothing replace it then (nothing ever did), but those names were now associated with that show. Heck, Goff and Roberts are mostly known for their "work" on Charlie's Angels, not Mannix!
    But, your point about giving proper credit to plot, and the role Goff and Roberts played in Mannix is well taken.
    By the way, Bruce Geller contributed a lot to Mannix as well, in particular the symbolism of the "jackets" and the cars -- but also the pacing, which kept the show moving. He wrote the season 4 opener, "A Ticket to the Eclipse," which shows a bit of Joe's dark side. But, I understand he was banned from the Paramount lot starting in around 1970, because of budgetary issues with Mission: Impossible.
    Please keep posting!
     
  3. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    I have to correct something in my previous post.
    After a little bit more research, it appears that Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts created Charlie's Angels, but did not produce the series. It was actually produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg.
    As a kid, I used to see their names associated with Charlie's Angels, but never did distinguish "created by" from "produced by" well enough then -- and the label just stuck in my mind that the same guys that were doing things for Mannix now did the same things for Charlie's Angels. Not so!
    Still, the reason I never discovered this before is because, when I looked them up probably a year or more ago I only noticed that they were both listed as being best known for Charlie's Angel's and did not pay close enough attention.
    But, it is an easy mistake to make. Their IMDb pages depict the four things they are best known for as Charlie's Angels (three times) and then White Heat. They list Charlie's Angels three times and Mannix not at all even though they are credited with producing 134 episodes of Mannix (and why only that many, since 194 - 24 = 170 ? They produced all of seasons 2-8 of Mannix, just not the 24 episodes of season 1, so it should be 170 episodes).
    The Wikipedia pages for them are just as bad in this regard.
    Those guys, whose names I have seen countless times in the opening of Mannix episodes, going back to before I could even read those names properly, are now not best known for Mannix, despite it being, by far, their most successful production achievement.
    But, I am so glad to discover they did not produce Charlie's Angels, somehow!
     
  4. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

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    It's sad that we don't get to choose our epitaphs, isn't it? They were also responsible for two charming short-lived series on either side of Mannix: The Rogues and Nero Wolfe. If you haven't seen the latter, look for an episode called Gambit, in which Darren McGavin plays a veteran of Wolfe's army unit determined to kill him as revenge for a perceived injustice. Obviously Goff and Roberts had fond memories of A Ticket to the Eclipse.
     
  5. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Lee,
    Good to see you back in this thread!
    It's hard to know what Goff and Roberts would have wanted to have been known for -- but you would think they were at least as proud of the seven years they produced Mannix as coming up with the concept for Charlie's Angels.
    So much of this has to do with the way Mannix has been mis-labeled and mis-understood these past decades.
    Gee, The Rogues isn't even available on Amazon anymore -- and I can't find Gambit. It would be worth buying it, just to see how similar it was to "A Ticket to the Eclipse!"
    Maybe wills should include epitaphs. Then, they can go to arbitration -- an arbiter can decide if we were closer to being right or if our detractors were closer to being right, with no in-between.
     
  6. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Hey, does anybody know what this means?
    When I go to
    Home Theater ForumHT Gear & MoviesDVD & Blu-rayDVDsTelevision DVDs
    This page comes up which claims to rank Television DVDs by "popularity." And, lo and behold, there is season 4 of Mannix, ranked #1 !
    Actually, season 8 comes in at number 20 and season 7 comes in at number 42 or something like that -- I didn't go down the list any further.
    I can't quite figure out where these lists come from (it's also late), but seeing that got me all excited -- there are 100 pages of television DVDs that are ranked in this forum and somehow season 4 of Mannix is number 1 in terms of popularity? Huh???
    OK, someone can ruin my fun and tell me this is just a pecularity -- a quirk of the forum -- but I, at least, have to ask if anyone knows any more about this.
    And, for those members of this forum that would gladly write the detractor epitaph for me, I'm sure I will get busy again and go away for awhile ...
     
  7. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

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    Thanks, Jo Ann! You're right about not being certain what they felt was their greatest professional achievement, but surely Mannix had to be way up there. Not only was it a wonderful series that stayed consistently good throughout its run (a rarity), but they seemed to have relatively (for television) little interference in their work, so that the show really reflected their vision. Moreover, the flexible format of the show allowed them to produce stories in most of the genres in which they had always enjoyed working before. (Except for comedy...there are some lovely humorous moments in some episodes, but there are no episodes I would categorize as out-and-out comedies or light-hearted capers.) And I suspect that wherever Mannix fell in Goff and Roberts's list of proudest achievements, it was way ahead of Charlie's Angels. Completely separate from my own views of that series, I don't think writers usually prefer series over which they had no control after the initial setup. (Levinson and Link for example didn't feel any special pride in Mannix. They didn't hate it; but they just didn't feel it was "theirs." Though I'm sure they cashed the checks...) Gambit was an interesting variation on Eclipse because it had to be adapted to Nero Wolfe, in which the lead character never left his house. Thus, it also used elements of Endgame also, as the heroes are trapped in a booby-trapped building by a traitor seeking revenge.
     
  8. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Lee,
    Yep, Mannix has all sorts of recurring episode types, as mentioned here before, but the types of episodes it covered were wide ranging. It was like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never knew what you were going to get -- so much in contrast to the "seen one you've seen 'em all" formulae series. The only thing consistent in Mannix that held it together over all of those story types was the character -- and the character was so strong in terms of his particular mix of qualities, none of which distill to easy analysis or a thumbnail sketch, that it worked. You found out who this guy was by watching him from week to week, not because someone told you who he was supposed to be. And, while some of those stories were adopted from movies, they were always just a bit different, always adopted to fit the qualities of the main character. It was a sort of overlay -- and the result just worked so well.
    For example, "The Sound of Darkness" took a relatively conventional story, and turned it completely into a matter of character that became classic. The same could be said of "The Mouse That Died" which someone once told me was a variant on the movie D.O.A. But then you'd have these "Joe alone in a small town" episodes, where it was all about the mystery, what the heck was happening, and the main matter of character was that Joe does not run from that. Then, of course, are all of the episodes where Joe has someone after him, and he does not know who or why, especially those ex-Korean War buddies (imagine doing a series like that today -- but those nutty buddies, while not the least bit PC, are actually pretty symbolic of characters we all run into in life). Then there are the episodes where Joe is like a knight in shining armor for some kid, or damsel in distress. Then there are the ones where he gets Peggy out of a bad situation.... The list of variants is absurdly long.
    And, it got to the point, by season 8, that you'd have thought all of this would have played out. But, if anything, it just got better in season 8! I'm still stunned by that. I took for granted that watching Mannix was a guarantee of quality effort each and every week -- but I swear that such a thing affects us, deep down. When we see that quality effort or not we feel more or less inclined to do the same in whatever we do. And, when we see heroes who go it alone, individuals who take punishment along the way, the same is true. Story is the fabric of who we are.
    But, if there is a spiritual aspect to the show, which there certainly is, then the people behind it are also likely spiritual in that they care more about what they left behind in those DVD cases than whatever someone says about them on some website.
    And that is why I am so grateful to finally have this series back again -- uncut and at proper speed!
    As for comedy, Mannix, in my opinion, had the right mix -- a pretty good parallel of real life. Humor is important, but it is also important in proper proportion, or else life seems too much like a big joke or, at the other end of the spectrum, entirely dark or emotionless. Some "dramatic" series surely have too much humor even as some have none at all. But, in Mannix the humor came in small ways, human ways, normally at the end of things, and it was not the focal point. When it came, it was enjoyable, and you got the sense it was also earned -- an important thing. I bet Goff and Roberts paid attention to that mix as well.
    The most lighthearted episode of Mannix, in my opinion, is s6's "A Matter of Principle," the one with the two old women and the car with the broken headlight. But, even it, with its humor from almost beginning to end, is rooted in seriousness. Some of the other episodes have very light moments, but they are just moments, which, in the context of serious things, are all the sweeter.
    So much of Mannix was in the balance of all sorts of things -- character attributes, episode types, humor, inter-personal relationships. It wasn't any one thing, but it was an outstanding mix of things -- sort of like an all around athlete that can do so many things well, the range mattered. It was a virtuoso interpretation of some pretty fundamental and classic qualities of character -- ones we don't tend to value as much anymore, for reasons I think I understand, and at our peril.
    Gee, I love this series. I never, ever thought when I watched it first run that I would never see anything else like it. I knew I would miss it -- terribly -- when it ended. But, I never knew nothing would come close to it again.
    I am so glad to have it back now.
     
  9. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    True. MANNIX didn't have much in the way of underwater scenes, which is why it stood out.
    That opening scene with Campanella was a hoot. It's a shame he didn't say "The Name Is Mannix"!
    Good to see you back in the thread Joann. And I wish I had an answer for you about the info on Season 4 and its ranking. I'd noted that a few times myself but have no idea where it comes from. Perhaps you could navigate to the Feedback forum and ask one of the mods if they know where that comes from.
    Harry
     
  10. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Harry,
    I know -- but saying "The name is Mannix" was out of character for Joe now, so I'm glad they only went as far as they did. Campanella's reply was absolutely perfect though!
    Happy to be back to the thread!
    Gee, if you noted that a few times already, then it must have been ranked that way for awhile???
    How do you get to the feedback forum? The only time I ever gave feedback was when someone posted something awful -- and thankfully untrue (a first time poster who was clearly a hack) -- over the July 4th weekend. The post got past the moderation of first-time posts. When I flagged it, they took it down -- immediately.
     
  11. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Actually, I should have been clearer -- too much going on lately...
    Is there any way to ask the question without having to make a post in that feedback forum?
     
  12. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    My personal opinion is that that part of Home Theater Forum (the feedback forum) is one of the desired places for that type of communication with the powers that be. Your other choice would be to pick a moderator and start a private communication with them regarding your question. They'd then either answer if they could or refer you to different mod who might know.
    There are simply too many threads going on at HTF at any one time to even consider a moderator looking in on our MANNIX thread, unless trouble brews, and I wouldn't want to use the "report" function to ask such a question.
    That's my advice for what it's worth. As a moderator on another forum, that's how we operate.
    If you need a pointer to the Feedback Forum, scroll to the top of a page - this one will do - and you'll see a Forum Nav dropdown. It'll currently say "TV on DVD and Blu-ray". Scroll down to near the bottom and you'll see "Forum Help and Feedback". Then either start a new thread there, or join a thread that may be of the appropriate topic (unlikely).
    Or call Joe Mannix to investigate. I believe you have his number... :)
    Harry
     
  13. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Harry,
    Thanks -- I did manage to find the feedback forum, but only saw the open threads there. I'll have to think some about whether to start a thread there to ask that question or not.
    I've seen postings in other threads that have expressed gratitude that I only post on Mannix here (thusfar, a perfect record). And, even though I could ask the question without specifically asking about Mannix, people will figure out why.
    I figure if I stay out of other threads, they will leave this thread to Mannix fans. I'm perfectly content with this thread.
    That number is 213-555-6644. The car phone, of course, is KG6-2114.
    Curiously, and for those of us who are old enough to care at all, 6644 as 6/6/44 is D-day!
    I don't know the number of the red phone though. This may be one of those red phone kinds of questions.
     
  14. filmklassik

    filmklassik Auditioning

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    That's correct, folks. Goff and Roberts had nothing to do with the cheesier-than-a-ripe-brie CHARLIE'S ANGELS beyond coming up with the initial idea and writing the pilot script. In other words, their involvement ended in 1975 and they had as much to do with the 100+ craptastic episodes of the show as you did. But on an interesting side note, ABC tried to stiff them -- the ones who created the concept for the show -- on the profits they were entitled to after ANGELS became a goldmine. Here is a revealing article about Goff & Roberts lawsuit from over thirty years ago: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19800528&id=u5wcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=y2cEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4890,6146118 And here is a cool article by Mike Connors himself from the late sixties about the unusually high-standards Goff and Roberts had in the creating of MANNIX stories. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19690711&id=RMowAAAAIBAJ&sjid=sQEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3248,3228609 Just a few excerpts: "One of our prime goals," Connors writes, "is to keep the viewer off balance so that he can never predict what's going to happen from week to week or even minute to minute. That requirement is stringent enough, but that's only the beginning." Connors then goes on to support many of the things JoAnn has been saying for months in her wonderful MANNIX posts. He writes, for example, that, "If you watch MANNIX episodes closely, you'll come to realize that many times the solving of the case becomes almost secondary to the development of the characters and their relationships to each other." He concludes by saying that, "There's no limit to the direction we can go in MANNIX provided that a story meets our requirements concerning characterization, plot, and variety. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself." And people did, too. Millions of them. Tens of millions. For six more years. Lucky for us.
     
  15. filmklassik

    filmklassik Auditioning

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    CORRECTION ... Actually, after re-reading that first article, it looks like the ones trying to stiff Goff & Roberts were co-producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg -- not ABC-TV. My bad. It's still a bit vague though. Regardless, whoever tried to rook them, I hope G&R went on to win a generous settlement in court. Sounds like they deserved it.
     
  16. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    For those who rarely venture out of this thread, there's a note about Home Theater Forum making a move on March 15th. Read about it here: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/328124/home-theater-forum-is-moving-all-members-please-read I'm pretty sure Joe Mannix will remain on the case and find the HTF's whereabouts! Harry
     
  17. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    David,
    That article by MC -- it's just incredible!!! How in the world did you find it?
    MC: "...many times the solving of the cases becomes almost secondary to the development of the characters and their relationships to each other."
    But, this really was new then -- especially for a series already about a combination of action and mystery. Now, you see series like the new Hawaii Five O that are almost cartoonish for the way they put character relationships ahead of the supposed main plot. That kind of extreme can make it difficult to say why Mannix was -- and is -- so special.
    If you say it's about character relationships, people can think it is one thing -- anything from soap opera to cartoon to parody might come to mind. If you say it is about plot, people can think it is about another -- anything from mission-oriented stuff to cerebral court room stuff might come to mind. If you say it is about action, they can think something else -- anything from super-spy stuff to good ole' boy car chase stuff might come to mind.
    But, it integrated all of those things, and in such a way that it all wound up making the heroic elements that much bigger, because they managed to bridge intrigue, action and emotion to the main character's heroic response -- on pretty much a weekly basis.
    Making a series about all of those things in such a way that its sole anchor was really that of a character study was entirely new -- and so unique it never really has been recreated.
    Whatever character elements were revealed were that much more special because they were so subtle, revealed in the context of the character doing things -- fully engaged in helping people, or finding the truth, consistently at great risk to himself -- which seems to always be an element of doing great things, in whatever realm. Everyone behind that show seemed to understand understand some pretty classic truths about both life and story.
    And he's right (of course) -- even the people behind the cases were interesting, complete with emotion, all caught up in some life's event that made Joe all that much bigger as a hero motif when he gave his all for them -- or when he gave his all because people started to go after him when he started to poke around and discover the truth. But, people DO go after you when you seek to discover and then out the truth -- people never seem to act worse than when they are defensive. But, he did not let that deter him and it only seemed to cause him to hang in there more -- an important part of his character.
    You had to find out who that guy was by watching him in situation after situation, in scenes large and small. They picked those scripts to fit the character they wanted to show on that screen, and inserted scenes that kept revealing elements of character, large and small. As a result, Joe Mannix defies easy description.
    But, all these years later, if I look at the situations he was in through the eyes of an adult whose been knocked around some, I'm amazed by so many things he got right -- things that really hold up well sometimes revealed in some very small, but significant, scenes. Incredible.
    Thanks so much for this article - and for coming to this thread !!!
     
  18. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    David,
    You bet -- I sure hope those guys got their money.
    Now that we've taken a closer look at it -- and thanks for pointing to this -- their most prolific writing and production effort sure seems to have been Mannix, and by far.
     
  19. jompaul17

    jompaul17 Screenwriter

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    Harry,
    Well, I'm one of those -- so thanks! Does this mean www.hometheatreforum.com is going to change -- its location??? If not, then it would seem that the forum will just be down for a couple of days and Joe will not be required to find it.
    BTW, I'm in your neck of the woods, for the next few nights anyway. What did you do with the hot -- or even warm -- weather? I've got one of those nasty virusus that just won't go away and this place is so cold it isn't helping!
     
  20. filmklassik

    filmklassik Auditioning

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    "But, this really was new then -- especially for a series already about a combination of action and mystery." Yeah, maybe it was new back then... or at least, practically new. I think THE FUGITIVE was known for blending suspense with literate, sharply-etched character stuff too, but I'm not 100% sure (Full disclosure: I've never actually watched the show, only the more action-oriented feature film). Anyway, maybe the folks behind THE FUGITIVE did it great, like MANNIX did. But it's hard to imagine them doing it better.
     

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