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Mannix: The Final Season DVD Review

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#1 of 11 Matt Hough

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Posted November 28 2012 - 09:35 AM

All good things must come to an end, and that was certainly the case with the eighth and final season of CBS’ Mannix. And for poor Joe Mannix, the end couldn’t have come too soon as the L.A.-based private detective takes quite a beating during this last season on the air including being knocked unconscious twice in the final episode alone. By its last season, CBS had other crime dramas that were drawing larger audiences (Hawaii Five-O and Kojak), but ratings weren’t what did Mannix in; it was still ranking high on Sunday nights when the producers pulled the plug on the show.







Mannix: The Final Season
Directed by Arnold Laven et al

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1974-1975
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1  Running Time: 1,214 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles:  SDH


MSRP: $54.99


Release Date: December 4, 2012

Review Date: November 28, 2012




The Season

4/5


L.A. detective Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) and his Girl Friday Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher) have a rough and tumble final season courtesy of the show’s writers. In addition to the standard murder cases, there are plots that involve hostage taking, blackmail, assassination attempts, and smuggling with Joe often at the center of the mayhem. Among the outstanding cases of this season are the premiere episode where Joe tries to help two musicians who seem under fire, a clever plot that traps Joe inside a building that’s being robbed by a team of bandits (this was more than a decade before Bruce Willis had the same problem in Die Hard though the surprise ending here is easily spotted), a fun episode where Joe works with his Tokyo counterpart, and an unusual kidnapping scenario in which the ransom is paid by playing and losing at gin rummy. The series finale is a bit of a bummer since Gail Fisher’s Peggy doesn’t even appear and thus get a final fade-out, but she does get mistakenly abducted earlier in the season in one of the more exciting episodes. Joe finds time to fall in love this season in a story that’s very indebted to the movie Laura with Joe falling for an assumed dead woman in a picture who’s actually very much alive. The growing drug problem in the United States is also apparent in that more of the cases this season involve drug dealing, smuggling, and distribution.


As always, CBS managed to attract a large quantity of top-notch guest stars to the program. Among some of the personalities who graced this season of the show (which includes a surprising number of award-winning actors) are Larry Storch, Barry Gordon, Rue Maclanahan, Norman Alden, James Olson, Katherine Helmond, James Naughton, Kim Hamilton, Anna Lee, Russell Johnson, Elisha Cook, Scatman Carothers, Lynn Carlin, Mako, Jay Robinson, Rosemary Forsyth, Leif Erickson, Carol Lawrence, Paul Burke, George Wyner, Rona Barrett, Vincent Baggetta, Anthony Zerbe, Tim Thomerson, Erik Estrada, Pamela Bellwood, Stafford Repp, Madlyn Rhue, Harriet MacGibbon, Geoffrey Deuel, Lurene Tuttle, Frank Aletter, Gerald McRaney, Dabney Coleman, Howard Hesseman, Diana Hyland, Alan Oppenheimer, Bill Bixby (who also directed four episodes this season including the series finale), Pippa Scott, Robert Loggia, Andrea Marcovicci, Dimetra Arliss, Barbara Rush, Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Paul Mantee, John Ritter, James Hampton, and William Windom. This season, Ward Wood plays Lt. Art Malcolm who assists Joe in all but a couple of the episodes. Robert Reed who had been a recurring police lieutenant in previous seasons does not appear in this final season.


Here are the twenty-four episodes contained on six discs which comprise the final season of Mannix:


1 – Portrait in Blues

2 – Game Plan

3 – A Fine Day for Dying

4 – Walk on the Blind Side

5 – The Green Man

6 – Death Has No Face

7 – A Small Favor for an Old Friend

8 – Enter Tami Okada

9 – Picture of a Shadow

10 – Desert Sun

11 – The Survivor Who Wasn’t (my favorite episode of the season will keep you guessing)

12 – A Choice of Victims

13 – A Word Called Courage

14 – Man in a Trap

15 – Chance Meeting

16 – Edge of the Web

17 – A Ransom for Yesterday (a cold case of kidnapping revives after six years in an unusual story)

18 – The Empty Tower

19 – Quartet for Blunt Instrument

20 – Bird of Prey Part I

21 – Bird of Prey Part II

22 – Design for Dying

23 – Search for a Dead Man

24 – Hardball



Video Quality

4/5


The transfers have faithfully adhered to the original 1.33:1 television aspect ratio. The liner notes mention that these episodes have been digitally remastered, and they certainly look it with clear and mostly clean images being the order of the day. Sharpness is very good to excellent, and color is nicely saturated but always under control. Flesh tones are very appealing. Black levels vary from okay to very good. The weakest episode in terms of quality is “Walk on the Blind Side” which seems to have the greatest amount of age-related damage and debris. There are incidents of aliasing and moiré patterns on and off, but these are never distracting. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound mix is decoded by Dolby Prologic properly into the center channel. Dialogue is well recorded and resides comfortably with the music and sound effects which occupy the same track. Age-related problems with hiss or crackle are simply not present. There are some episodes which feature some rather strained ADR work which doesn’t balance well with the directly recorded dialogue, but that doesn’t happen very often.



Special Features

0/5


There are no bonus features at all apart from some promo trailers for the DVD releases of the original Hawaii Five-O, Bonanza, and The Wild Wild West.




In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


So, goodbye to Joe Mannix and Peggy Fair in the entertaining crime drama Mannix. Eight seasons was a long and worthwhile run for the show which went out while still offering intriguing mysteries and good action for its fans.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 11 Harry-N

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Posted November 29 2012 - 06:05 AM

Thanks Matt. I'm looking forward to receiving my copy sometime next week. But it will be awhile until I get around to viewing them. I'm still viewing Seasons Four and Five, so I'll still have to get through Six and Seven before I tackle these. Still, I may peek at an episode just to verify that things are working properly.


It seems like it took forever to get MANNIX going on DVD, and then it looked like it was going to stall, and yet here we are talking about the final release.


Thanks for the review.


Harry


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#3 of 11 Mark Collins

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Posted November 29 2012 - 06:15 AM

Matt, like Harry thanks for the review. The only thing i did not like in this season was the writers taking the movie Laura and using it for a plot. I hold that movie very dear to my heart and was very angry with the writers when they did it. I felt it was not up to Mannix standards to do such a thing. I thought this show is going off the air because they are running out of ideas. I look forward to this season to complete the show. I wish they had done a Joe Peggy and Adam reunion show which would have been cool in the form of a well written movie of the week. Joe could of gone on like the Perry Mason movies after Perry went off the air. 2 hour movies of the week. I know the ratings would have been there.

#4 of 11 Matt Hough

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Posted November 29 2012 - 08:40 AM

Originally Posted by Mark Collins 

Matt, like Harry thanks for the review. The only thing i did not like in this season was the writers taking the movie Laura and using it for a plot. I hold that movie very dear to my heart and was very angry with the writers when they did it. I felt it was not up to Mannix standards to do such a thing. I thought this show is going off the air because they are running out of ideas. I look forward to this season to complete the show. I wish they had done a Joe Peggy and Adam reunion show which would have been cool in the form of a well written movie of the week. Joe could of gone on like the Perry Mason movies after Perry went off the air. 2 hour movies of the week. I know the ratings would have been there.


I agree with you. There was much more life to the show as some of the mysteries in this final season were as good as anything in any prior season.



#5 of 11 Mark Collins

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Posted November 29 2012 - 11:04 AM

Matt, the fact they used Laura for the basis of one of the episodes just had me twisting about in my chair. I remember it that much.LOL I think it was because we had been subjected to a Laura TV movie of the week on ABC back in 1968. http://www.imdb.com/...ef_=fn_tt_tt_37 Laura had become a huge hit on late night local stations. The movie would air in the summer in all of the major cities. I used to move my antenna to get some of those stations. The 1968 movie was a huge bomb. I was not the only one who was angry when it showed up in a Mannix plot. Mannix was so much better than that. Why had they gone down that path was what I kept asking myself at the time. The other problem was they had put distance for some reason between Joe and Peggy which you could see half way through season 7. We Mannix fans loved the two of them together. Like I said i think they missed a big ratings hit by not bringing the show back in the form of tv movies. The show instead was farmed out to ABC for their late night schedule. I enjoyed when the show returned in rerun and I think the ratings proved Mannix still packed a punch sorry. I know many people make fun of how many times Joe gets hit in a season etc. Hey I never counted for some reason even with it being on DVD. The constant use of the same location shoots and repeat of film I may notice now but not when it first aired. The Griffith Park Observatory drive up and the tunnel seem to be used a great deal. The only thing that really bothers me was the use of Nancy Novack in different names as Joe's true love each season. I just hope she does not show up in season 8. Mannix did love to use actors over and over again which again was something i did not notice when first aired. Hey I do not mind though because some of those actors did a great job. Well Thank You CBS for finishing one of the great private eye shows of the 1960s and 70s. Mike Conners good luck and thank you for all those years of great fun!!!!!!!!!!!!

#6 of 11 Matt Hough

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Posted November 29 2012 - 02:44 PM

When you watch 24 episodes back-to-back over the course of three days, you do tend to notice things like how many conks on the head Joe sustains over a season (he gets hit numerous times with pistol butts and also with pipes and a wooden board), how many times he gets ganged up on two-to-one, how many times he has his gun taken away from him (one wonders why he didn't start carrying an extra ankle holster pistol which the double knit flaired pant legs would have easily concealed), etc. People watching the show on a weekly basis would have far less reason to notice such continuing plot devices, but they become very obvious when one does concentrated viewing for the purposes of a review. It's not a criticism; action shows like this relied on such devices, and Joe was a lone wolf who was subject to this kind of repeated abuse.



#7 of 11 Mark Collins

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Posted November 30 2012 - 08:57 AM

Matt, that is how I watch the show in blocks of episodes. I will view maybe 8 in one night. I then complete the season in 3 nights. Mannix was high in the ratings as you stated but even when it aired there were jokes about all the times Joe was punched around. The many times he is alone in a town or building. Bad Day At Black Rock anyone. I really did not mind how they would at times use a concept from certain films and incorporate it into the story. Heck they even filmed the same episode twice over which to be frank I never knew it. I learned of this fact in the Mannix thread. Mission Impossible was gone. So the Mannix producers chose to do that awful two part episode which must have been a left over Mission episode. The problem was the show really had run its course by season 8. The ratings were there yes but you had other crime shows coming out that used less violence in the way they solved crime. The mood of the country was different. Mannix tried to incorporate what was going on in our culture at the time. Seasons prior Organized Crime was the focus which I did tire of watching. I think it was good the show went off the air when it did. The time was right. I one of the most devoted fans would only pick it up here and there during season 8 and happened to be there when the Laura episode appeared. I will quit on that topic do not worry. I was very happy to see it return in rerun form on ABC. I did not however watch it on TV land or when it was syndicated. I bought the DVD collection and all I thought was how wonderful this show was for its time. The Joe Peggy relationship blew me away more today than it did when I first watched it. I feel so bad that Gail Fisher is not with us. She was so wonderful in that role. I would go this far and say there would not have been a Mannix if not for her. Matt thanks again for your review of season 8. I thought everything you said about Mannix was right on the money. Just like it is in all your reviews. You do us all here a great service and thank you for that.

#8 of 11 Matt Hough

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Posted November 30 2012 - 09:56 AM

You're very kind. Thank you!



#9 of 11 Mark Collins

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Posted November 30 2012 - 10:32 AM

THE GREAT NEWS THAT I JUST LEARNED FROM BILL HUNT IS THAT LAURA IS UP FOR PRE ORDER AT AMAZON IN BD 2/5. Matt the very last thing I wanted to talk about is the Mannix Thread itself. We are blessed or cursed which ever your view point with a thread which has a deep analysis of each episode of Mannix. The work and thought that has gone into that thread is beyond anything here. The work is being done by a true scholar and educator. I have often said the essays on these episodes should be in book form. Does this make Mannix special in some way because of these efforts? Yes of course it does. I want to point out however that the same thing could be done with a host of shows. I recently with serious thought decided to do the same thing with my show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea season 3. I chose that season because most Voyage fans hate it. I started viewing season 3 and 4 each week since September. I found out that there were some excellent episodes in those seasons. The episode where the Chief is caught between Nelson and Crane trying to kill each other. Man you really could take a deep look into that particular episode. I floated the idea past a nameless Voyage fan and they thought it was a great idea. My decision was not to do it. I felt I just might ruin the great fun and entertainment of the show if I did. I am not saying that this is what has happened to Mannix with its episode analysis. The contrary it has brought more people to the thread. The last and most important thing I want to say again is this Mannix had Gail Fisher who never really received the proper praise for her role in that show. Gail was smart sexy intuitive and always knew what to say and what to do in all the some times bizarre situations she found herself in. God Bless you Gail. I wish you were here with us today. I would want you to know what great love and regard your fans hold for you. Well once more I thank you for your reviews Matt. Please keep doing this service for the members of HTF

#10 of 11 Steve...O

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Posted November 30 2012 - 02:24 PM

Hi Matt,


Just want to thank you for this review; much appreciated.  Like Harry, I'm way behind on Mannix viewing but will add this to my shelf to be watched (someday).  After the Connors lawsuit hit, I thought this series was dead in the water, but am very happy to be wrong on that count.   Perhaps the suit was quietly settled rather quickly which allowed these releases to continue?  Either way, this was a win win for all.


Mark (& Matt), you have some dedicated viewing habits :)  I am lucky when I can find one hour per week to watch a TVonDVD episode. 

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#11 of 11 davidHartzog

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Posted December 01 2012 - 04:50 AM

Actually, i think peter gunn must hold the record for its star craig stevens being knocked around, knocked out, and shot. He also used his 38 a lot more than joe did.
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