The producers of MANNIX were already adept enough at quickly getting into and out of scenes in a hurry, so if the show was shortened a bit, it was expertly done. MANNIX, even in these S6/7-shortened mode, doesn't feel rushed the way modern shows do, trying to squeeze everything into a 40 minute time frame. Sometimes I can't even follow some of these more convoluted plots that play out in 40 minutes, and if I try to converse with the wife about what's just happened, or what someone said, we just get further behind. There are no pauses - no breaks in the action until the lengthy commercial pods.
The Season Seven opener, "The Girl In The Polka Dot Dress" had an intriguing premise, with the psychic predicting a murder. The show featured two prominent STAR TREK first season guest stars in Alfred Ryder ("The Man Trap") and Robert Brown ("The Alternative Factor"). I was amused at the scene where Alfred Ryder is drugged, near death. His facial expression, and even the backing music, was identical to the STAR TREK scene where he was stunned by a phaser. Incidentally, Alfred Ryder also played in the Sutton Roley-directed "The Phanton Strikes" and "Return Of The Phantom". It's too bad he didn't match up with the next episode of MANNIX where Sutton Roley directs.
The lovely Joan Van Ark made her one-and-only appearance on MANNIX in this episode. We also hear that Toby is quite capable of preparing his own TV dinner, an echo from a late Season 6 episode with a similar remark. I loved Joe's attempt at reading Peggy's notes - a nice comic break. This first episode of the season also featured Robert Reed.
OK, on to Sutton Roley!
I also try to watch current shows -- emphasis on the word try -- by sampling some, and even watching two of them for at least a complete season or more, just these past few years. I went through a period where I didn't watch any current TV, except for Mad Men, then decided to give some other dramas a try again. Geez, what junk. The storytelling isn't there. The character development isn't there. Not only are the shows shortened to 40 minutes, they seem to try to insert all kinds of personal drama into things, overblown backstories, making the drama seem like it floats on a washing machine filled with soap suds. And, as I mentioned before, we are just supposed to accept that these characters are wonderful heroic types because of their resumes and that they have sufficient reason to love each other like a bunch of kids that have been left together too much after school and so just bond in order to feel less alone.
But, the past decades have been dominated by the drive for education and "family values" and so everything has to have a backdrop of resumes and interpersonal relationships in order to have any meaning to its primary audience at all.
The primary message of these heroes: get yourself a resume, make a bunch of friends, and wear tight jeans.
For my money, that defeats the entire purpose of art, especially the art of character-driven TV, which, ideally, helps us to be better individuals when we are called upon to be individuals -- which amounts to the defining purpose of our lives. When mythical heroes are mired in resumes and social relationships, we become so much less. And story? Who cares about story anymore when viewers are not challenged to think so much as to be confirmed for the extent to which they follow others -- anything from organizations to friends.
I distinctly remember the increased emphasis on humor as the seasons of Mannix went by, and more of Joe Mannix smiling -- remembered noticing that first-run. Now, this is all very subtle. But, I just love the way the series subtly evolved character like that -- kept it fresh while keeping its core the same. There was more humor, and it was very well done. But, it remained in good proportion, never turning the show into parody. Mannix survived just up until the end of the parody generation, overlapping it somewhat, which is what made it look older when it was canceled. Right then, we seemed to become so much "smarter" -- something that turned out to be the adolescent kind of smart that the Baby Boomer generation lived most of its life in.
Toby sort of ages properly as the series goes on, up until season 8, when he is mentioned in "A Walk on the Blind Side." There, Peggy gives his age -- and he becomes much younger. Now, she does tell this to her kidnapper, so you might say she was lying on purpose. Or, maybe they just blew it. The thing I love about this kind of error -- viewers can rationalize almost anything to make it work!
The fun of it is how much viewers want to do just that -- proof that the myth matters to them that much, transcending detail, somehow more important than the moment in which it is viewed, and somehow more important than reality, itself.