"Cry Danger" had some great location shots in San Francisco, a city that's always fun to look at with its striking imagery. I love seeing Joe in the same locations as Jimmy Stewart in VERTIGO, one of my favorite movies.
The show made good use of S.F. during both seasons 7 and 8, hitting all sorts of highpoints including the Golden Gate Bridge, The Cable Car Museum, Alcatraz, and other spots over the two episodes.
In "Cry Danger" notice something that might be easy to overlook. When Joe is by the Golden Gate Bridge, just after getting away from the thugs, he runs up, for lack of a better description, a giant rock. While MC tended to do less of his own stunts over the years (probably in no small part because they didn't want him to be out of commission for some accident, since there was no show without him), a few fun ones were included every year. One of them is here, where he runs up this giant rock in what appears to be one long take. Now, there is a lot of stunt-man action leading up to this, but then you can tell MC is put back in the shot just before this happens. And, since the camera pans pretty far away from him, it was important that it was done in one take -- and MC must have wanted to do it.
It was weird to see Joe in another recognizable city, other than LA. In season 8 he is supposed to go to cities like Albuquerque, but, there aren't a whole lot of distinctive features there (to this day), and so it was tough to tell if the show actually even went there. But, they took the show to S.F., twice, making it the second most visited city for Joe.
And, so there is Joe, who is quintessential late 60's - early 70's So Cal, looking cool in S.F., but also, well, not like he is quite home. Something is different. The feel is different.
The scenes with the other P.I. are all sorts of fun and they exemplify this difference. This other P.I. is supposed to be something of Joe's S..F. counterpart. For example, instead of having his office in an upscale shopping complex like the Paseo Verde, the S.F. P.I. has his office in Ghiradelli Square -- surely the S.F. counterpart of the Paseo Verde (had it existed in West L.A.). The S.F. P.I. has friends, like Joe does, that help him solve the case -- another similarity. But, notice how the S.F. P.I. wears a three piece suit, not a tweed or print jacket. And, his office, while tastefully decorated with art, like Joe's, is somehow plainer -- even the art seems more traditional. Something seems more uptight, more proper. There are lots of brick and mortar landmarks in S.F. So, while Joe has a good time running around the streets of S.F., on foot a lot of the time, S.F. winds up feeling more constrained, somehow. By contrast, L.A. winds up feeling dynamic, as if anything could happen, a big playground. S.F. winds up feeling more proper.
I remember watching those episodes, first run, and enjoying them -- but also wanting to see Joe back home -- and soon.
This leads to another curious thing about Mannix. Our hero is established as the kind of knight in shining armor of L.A. Some people know of him in L.A. -- know of him by name. He has achieved some note for doing good deeds in L.A. -- we know this because it winds up revealed (subtly, as all things in Mannix) in various episodes over the years.
But, he is not known in S.F. He is also not known in the immediate environs of L.A. Now, L.A. is a big city, and so being its hero is a pretty big deal -- most of us would take that and consider it a pretty successful life. But, the show was careful to maintain a certain kind of anonymity for the hero as well. His deeds are locally significant, and certainly to the people he helps. His deeds achieve some note, and this makes sense. But, he is not a hero on a world stage.
Think of how easy it is to construct a hero who saves the world -- like a cartoon character. Now, think of how difficult it is to portray a hero who walks the line between deeds that are great enough to receive some note, but not the slapstick version of heroic deeds that populate our movies and TV today.
Mannix pulled off an everyman sort of hero, one whose deeds mattered enough to bring him some note, have people who did not know him know of him by name because of those deeds, since he, after all, lived and worked in a big city. But, that fame remained local -- and, through all of this, he stayed the same, not running off to help the government "save the world" but working at the level where not only do most of us live our lives, but, arguably, the level that matters the most, when it comes right down to it -- certainly the level that used to matter more.
It's almost a heroic blueprint -- some people should know of you, know your name and think well of you without having met you, but that kind of fame is not the driving force, just a kind of spiritual by-product of leading a good life.