Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) is a private eye who works in Los Angeles. He comes from a long line of hard-boiled detectives who think with their brains and speak with their fists. A man’s man without frailties or weakness whose only indulgence appears to be slugs of booze. His character is a bit of a mystery with nothing else in his life but his work, although through the episodes we get pieces of his backstory, like of old girlfriends and Korean War buddies.
Mannix was created by the team of William Link and Richard Levinson, who also created Columbo and Murder, She Wrote, and was developed and executive produced by Bruce Geller, the creator of Mission: Impossible. In the first season, Mannix worked at an agency known as Intertech, but this second season, which aired 1968-69, finds him out on his own, assisted by his secretary Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher), the widow of a police officer and mother to a young boy named Toby. Unlike some of his peers, Mannix has a very good relationship with the police, like Lt. George Kramer (Larry Linville before he became Frank Burns) Lt. Adam Tobias (Robert Reed while he was Mike Brady).
The show is enjoyable, although it’s not always intentional. The stories are smart, believable mysteries. There’s plenty of action with lots of fighting, gunfire, and car chases with Mannix at the center. During these 25 episodes, he is shot four times, knocked unconscious eleven, and keeps coming back for more. The show is filled with a lot of familiar faces, such as Sally Kellerman, Yaphet Kotto, and Anthony Zerbe. The unintentional humor comes from the overuse of the backlot for exterior shots and stock footage of cars driving off cliffs and exploding.
Fisher was not only one of the first African-American actresses to be a series regular, but in 1970 she became the first to win an Emmy for acting in television. However, the writing staff could have used a little more diversity, considering Peggy’s two romantic interests this season all had trouble with the law.
Mannix – The Second Season has been digitally remastered and looks great. The image is clean, the lines are clear, and the colors are vibrant. The episodes are presented in order of original airdate, but have no continuity so they can be watched in any order. They may have been edited according to package disclaimer. The music has been changed, but the score as presented is loud and dynamic. Thankfully, Lalo Schifrin’s familiar theme, an up-tempo waltz, is still included.