The Magician (U.S. TV series)
Bixby as Tony Blake.
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||21|
|Production company(s)||Paramount Television in association with B & B Productions, Inc.|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||March 13, 1973– April 15, 1974|
The Magician is an American television series that ran during the 1973–1974 season. It starred Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony "Tony" Blake, a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to solve difficult crimes as needed. In the series pilot, the character was named Anthony Dorian; the name was changed due to a conflict with the name of a real life stage magician.
Blake was a professional stage magician who used his skills to solve crimes and help the helpless. Years earlier, Blake had been in prison on a trumped-up espionage charge in an unnamed country in South America. He discovered a way to escape with his cellmate, which began his interest in escapology. The cellmate died and left him a fortune. The escape, presumably[weasel words] followed by exoneration of the false charges that had led to it, led to Blake's pursuit of a career in stage magic, which made him famous. He never forgot his unjust imprisonment, and it motivated him to seek justice for others.
Initially, Blake used his Boeing 720 jetliner (named "The Spirit") as a base of operations; it was outfitted as a mobile residence ("It's like any other mobile home, only faster.") with live-in pilot Jerry Anderson (Jim Watkins). Blake drove a white Chevrolet Corvette with custom license plates ("SPIRIT") and, for its time, an exotic feature: a car phone. Blake frequently received assistance from acerbic columnist Max Pomeroy (Keene Curtis), and Max's brilliant son Dennis (Todd Crespi), who uses a wheelchair. Midway through the program's run, the idea of the airplane was dropped and Blake took up residence in a posh apartment at The Magic Castle, a real club devoted to magic acts. At the same time, the supporting cast of the show was replaced with a new, single character, Dominick (Joseph Sirola), a somewhat comical sidekick. No explanation for the changes was given in the series. Jerry continued to make occasional minor appearances (and Watkins and Curtis retained places in the opening credits) and Tony recruited Jerry and Max together for one further case in the new format.
- Bill Bixby as Anthony Blake
- Julian Christopher as Jerry Anderson
- Keene Curtis as Max Pomeroy
- Joseph Sirola as Dominick
- Cami Sebring as Kathy
Magic on the program
The show is noteworthy in that Bixby, a keen amateur magician, insisted on performing all of the illusions in person, without any trick photography, although it was not possible for this to be the case in the TV-movie/pilot. Many of the episodes of the regular series were preceded by an announcement that the magic tricks were accomplished without trick photography. He was instructed in these performances by the program's technical advisor, Mark Wilson, who was credited as "magic consultant". Once the format changed to have the hero based in a magic club, Wilson could occasionally be seen on the stage there, as well. In addition to escapes, Bixby performed feats of sleight of hand, mentalism, and stage illusions. After the series' cancellation, Bixby went on to host a string of magic specials on NBC and a series, The Wonderful World of Magic, in first-run syndication.
Though it ran only a single season, The Magician was an influence on later series. The show was a favorite of The X-Files creator Chris Carter, who worked it into Special Agent Fox Mulder's "origin" story: a teenaged Mulder was waiting to watch The Magician when his sister Samantha was abducted by mysterious forces.
In the Quantum Leap episode "The Great Spontini", Scott Bakula's character, Dr. Sam Beckett, leaps into an amateur magician in 1974 who aspires to appear on Bill Bixby's The Magician; however, owing to his partial amnesia, Dr. Beckett, at first, can only recall Bixby's connection with The Incredible Hulk, which had not been made at that time.
The Incredible Hulk series featured an episode that paid homage to both The Magician and Bixby's earlier series, My Favorite Martian. In The Incredible Hulk's "My Favorite Magician" episode, Bixby's character became the temporary apprentice to a stage magician played by Bixby's Martian co-star, Ray Walston. Mark Wilson was on hand again as the episode's "magic consultant" as well. In addition, Martian co-star Pamela Britton appeared in an episode of The Magician.
Blake is but one in a long line of magicians who double as detectives. Others include:
- The Great Merlini, created by author Clayton Rawson.
- Norgil the Magician, created by Walter B. Gibson.
- Chandu the Magician, a radio series whose main character was played on screen by Edmund Lowe and Bela Lugosi.
- Blackstone, the Magic Detective, a 15-minute radio series based on the comic book series Blackstone, Master Magician.
- Mandrake the Magician, a comic strip hero created by Lee Falk. Mandrake appeared in a 12 chapter serial for Columbia studios. A failed TV series pilot starred Anthony Herrera in the title role with Ji-Tu Cumbuka as Lothar. Unlike most crime-solving magicians, Mandrake is sometimes presented as having actual magical powers.
- Alexander Blacke, the hero of the 1986 television series Blacke's Magic, played by Hal Linden.
- Jonathan Creek, starring Alan Davies, was a series produced by the BBC from 1997 to 2010. Creek was a designer of stage illusions who used his expertise to solve impossible crimes.
- Naoko Yamada, played by Yukie Nakama, the main character of the Japanese drama Trick.
- Ace Cooper, the protagonist of the unrelated animated series, The Magician, which aired in the Fox Kids programming block between 1997 and 1998. Cooper was a stage magician in the future who solved crimes with his sidekick, Cosmo.
- Hano, Arnold (Jan 1978). "The Magical World of Greg Wilson". Boy's Life. Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
- The Magician - The TV Series
- The Magician - DVDs for 'The TV Series' Starring Bill Bixby...VERY SOON! Appearing magicially at last, in just a matter of weeks, from VEI Archived 2017-08-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- Muir, John Kenneth (August 1, 2015). The X-Files FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week (FAQ Series). Milwaukee, WI: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 1480369748. Retrieved 10 December 2015.