Jake and the Fatman

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Jake and the Fatman
Jake and the Fatman.jpg
Title screen
Genre Crime drama
Created by Dean Hargrove
Joel Steiger
Ann Doherty
Developed by Douglas Stefen Borghi
Starring William Conrad
Joe Penny
Alan Campbell
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 106 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Dean Hargrove
Fred Silverman
Joel Steiger
Production location(s) Los Angeles, California
Oahu, Hawaii
Running time approx. 45 minutes
Production company(s) The Fred Silverman Company
Strathmore Productions (1987–1988)
Dean Hargrove Productions (1988–1992)
Viacom Productions
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original network CBS
Original release September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26) – May 6, 1992 (1992-05-06)
Related shows Matlock
Diagnosis: Murder

Jake and the Fatman is a television crime drama starring William Conrad as prosecutor J. L. (Jason Lochinvar) "Fatman" McCabe and Joe Penny as investigator Jake Styles.[1][2][3] The series ran on CBS for five seasons from September 26, 1987, to May 6, 1992. Diagnosis: Murder was a spin-off of this series.[4][5]


J. L. "Fatman" McCabe is a Hawaii-born, tough former HPD officer turned Los Angeles district attorney. He is teamed with a handsome, happy-go-lucky special investigator named Jake Styles. They often clash due to their different styles and personalities. "Fatman" hardly travels anywhere without Max, his pet bulldog. The show was set in Los Angeles during the first season. After the end of Magnum, P.I., the show was moved to Hawaii. The second and third seasons and half of the fourth season were filmed in Honolulu. The show then returned to Los Angeles for the remainder of its run.


Main cast[edit]

Recurring guest stars[edit]

Guest stars on the series included Alex Cord, Robert Culp, Scott Marlowe, Leigh McCloskey, Ed Nelson, Leo Penn, Stephen Quadros, Robert Reed, Mitch Ryan, David Soul and Ray Sharkey.



Conrad guest starred as an aging prosecutor in a two-part episode of Matlock during its first season on NBC. Executive producers Fred Silverman and Dean Hargrove decided to use this character as a model for one of the main characters in a new show they were creating for CBS. Penny also guest starred in these episodes, but his character was not on the same side as Conrad's character in the storyline's legal case.

Following the departure of Hargrove, executive producers David Moessinger and Jeri Taylor were brought on to run the series with Silverman. They also hired J. Michael Straczynski as story editor and, later, co-producer. Taylor and Moessinger ran the show for two years before finally leaving in a dispute over control over the show.


Joe Penny (clarification: not the Fatman) lost a large amount of weight after the show moved to Hawaii, which led to many rumors about his health, including the possibility that he had AIDS. In actuality, he had suffered from a gastrointestinal virus and was having difficulty regaining the weight he lost. When the show moved back to Los Angeles, it was also suspected that it was on Penny's urging. This was also not true, as the move was CBS's decision.[6]


Jake and the Fatman had a total of five seasons and 106 episodes that were broadcast on CBS between 1987 and 1992.

Season No. of
Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot 2 October 28, 1986 (1986-10-28) November 4, 1986 (1986-11-04)
1 23 September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26) April 6, 1988 (1988-04-06)
2 11 March 15, 1989 (1989-03-15) May 24, 1989 (1989-05-24)
3 26 September 20, 1989 (1989-09-20) May 16, 1990 (1990-05-16)
4 24 September 12, 1990 (1990-09-12) May 8, 1991 (1991-05-08)
5 22 September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18) April 6, 1992 (1992-04-06)

Home media[edit]

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) released the first two seasons of Jake and the Fatman on DVD in Region 1 between 2008/2009. As of June 2015, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

Visual Entertainment released Jake and the Fatman - The Complete Collection on June 23, 2017.[7][8]

DVD Name Ep # Region 1
Season One, Volume One 11 July 8, 2008[9]
Season One, Volume Two 12 December 2, 2008[10]
Season Two 11 May 5, 2009[11]
Season Three 26 N/A
Season Four 24 N/A
Season Five 22 N/A
The Complete Series 106 June 23, 2017[12]


The nineteenth episode of the fourth season of 'Jake and the Fatman', "It Never Entered My Mind", featured Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes. The success of that episode led initially to a series of three TV movies, and then a weekly television series Diagnosis: Murder that debuted on CBS on October 29, 1993.


External links[edit]