Ellery Queen (TV series)
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Main title design: Jack Cole & N. Lee Lacy
|Created by||Richard Levinson
|Theme music composer||Elmer Bernstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||22 (23 with pilot)|
|Executive producer(s)||Richard Levinson
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Original run||September 11, 1975– April 4, 1976|
Ellery Queen is an American television detective mystery series based on the fictional character Ellery Queen. It aired on NBC during the 1975-76 television season and stars Jim Hutton as Ellery Queen, David Wayne as his father, Inspector Richard Queen, and Tom Reese as Sgt. Velie. Created by the writing/producing team of Richard Levinson and William Link (Mannix, Columbo, and Murder, She Wrote), the title character "breaks" the fourth wall to ask the audience to consider their solution.
A pilot for the series premiered on March 23, 1975, with the made-for-TV movie Ellery Queen (also titled "Too Many Suspects"), adapted from the 1965 Ellery Queen novel The Fourth Side of the Triangle. A total of 22 episodes followed in the show's single season. The theme music was by Elmer Bernstein, with the last episode airing on April 4, 1976.
Set in post-World War II New York City, the show closely followed the format of early Ellery Queen mystery novels where, before presenting the solution, a "Challenge To The Reader" was issued: the reader was challenged to guess the solution to the crime. In the series this tradition was followed by having Ellery Queen (Jim Hutton) "break the fourth wall," reviewing key clues and asking the audience if they knew the solution.
The final act always used the time-honored detective cliché of calling together all the suspects, with Ellery Queen presenting the solution to the group - often disproving the solution proposed by whichever rival sleuth happened to be in that episode.
The series departed from the original in two respects. An element of comedy was added by making the Ellery Queen character slightly physically clumsy, and the character of rival radio detective Simon Brimmer (John Hillerman) was created for the series.
In addition to lead actors Jim Hutton and David Wayne, the series featured several regulars:
- Tom Reese, Inspector Queen's right-hand-man, Sergeant Velie
- John Hillerman, radio detective Simon Brimmer (pilot and 8 episodes)
- Ken Swofford, reporter Frank Flanagan (5 episodes)
- Nina Roman, Grace, Queen's secretary (7 episodes)
- Arch Johnson, Deputy Commissioner Hayes (3 episodes)
- Maggie Nelson, Vera, Flanagan's secretary (3 episodes).
Guest stars, partial list
Richard Schickel, reviewing the series in September 1975, called it "a garage-sale period piece"; he said "the presence of Guy Lombardo, some ancient autos and the oldest of detective story conventions (all suspects are assembled in one room to await the results of the detective's ratiocinations) are supposed to evoke nostalgia. They do not—and the format's stasis is numbing."
In 1979 Richard Levinson and William Link, the creators of the series, won a Special Edgars Award for creating the Columbo and Ellery Queen TV series. 35 years later, David Wiegand, reviewing the series when it was released on DVD, called the show's formula a "completely satisfying guilty pleasure" and asserts the "appeal of the series is that the clues are actually there in the development of each show, and just before the denouement, Ellery breaks the "fourth wall" and asks if you've figured it out.
List of episodes
- "Ellery Queen" a.k.a. "Too Many Suspects" (1975·Mar·23), with Ray Milland
|1||"The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne"||Joan Collins||1975·Sep·11|
|2||"The Adventure of the Lover's Leap"||Ida Lupino||1975·Sep·18|
|3||"The Adventure of the Chinese Dog"||Orson Bean||1975·Sep·25|
|4||"The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader"||Donald O'Connor||1975·Oct·02|
|5||"The Adventure of the 12th Floor Express"||Tyler McVey||1975·Oct·09|
|6||"The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance"||Eve Arden||1975·Oct·19|
|7||"The Adventure of Colonel Nivin's Memoirs"||Robert Loggia||1975·Oct·23|
|8||"The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party"||Larry Hagman||1975·Oct·30|
|9||"The Adventure of Veronica's Veils"||George Burns||1975·Nov·13|
|10||"The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse"||Ross Martin||1975·Dec·11|
|11||"The Adventure of the Blunt Instrument"||Eva Gabor||1975·Dec·18|
|12||"The Adventure of the Black Falcon"||Tab Hunter||1976·Jan·04|
|13||"The Adventure of the Sunday Punch"||Lloyd Nolan||1976·Jan·11|
|14||"The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer"||Dorothy Malone||1976·Jan·18|
|15||"The Adventure of the Wary Witness"||Michael Parks||1976·Jan·25|
|16||"The Adventure of the Judas Tree"||Dana Andrews||1976·Feb·01|
|17||"The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario"||Vincent Price||1976·Feb·08|
|18||"The Adventure of the Two-Faced Woman"||Vera Miles||1976·Feb·29|
|19||"The Adventure of the Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley"||Ken Berry||1976·Mar·07|
|20||"The Adventure of Caesar's Last Sleep"||Stuart Whitman||1976·Mar·14|
|21||"The Adventure of the Hard-Hearted Huckster"||Bob Crane||1976·Mar·21|
|22||"The Adventure of the Disappearing Dagger"||Walter Pidgeon||1976·Apr·04|
The series, including the pilot, was released on DVD - in Australia (region 4, PAL) on 15 September 2010 and in the US by Entertainment One (region 1, NTSC) on September 28, 2010. The Australian release also includes the earlier 1971 TV movie Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You which Levinson and Link co-wrote under their pseudonym 'Ted Leighton' (the producer made script changes which the team “detested”).
- The Adventures of Ellery Queen (radio and TV series)
- Erickson, Hal. "Ellery Queen (1975)". Rovi Corporation. The New York Times.
- Andrews, Dale; Sercu, Kurt (July 14, 2009). "When Ellery Queen met NBC". Criminal Brief. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "Interview with screen writer William Link” from disk 6, Ellery Queen Mysteries, DVD release September 2010.
- Schickel, Richard (September 15, 1975). "Television: Viewpoints: The New Season, Part I". Time. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
- Wiegand, David (November 14, 2010). "DVD review: Ellery Queen: The complete Series". sfgate.com. Retrieved 2011-03-04.