Toma (TV series)

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Genre Crime drama
Created by Edward Hume
Written by Edward Hume
Roy Huggins
Directed by Alex Grasshoff
Jeannot Szwarc
Starring Tony Musante
Susan Strasberg
Composer(s) Pete Rugolo (pilot)
Mike Post (series)
Pete Carpenter (series)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 22 (plus 1 TV-movie)
Producer(s) Stephen J. Cannell
Editor(s) Gloryette Clark
John J. Dumas
Location(s) Universal Studios: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California
RMS Queen Mary: 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, California
Cinematography Vilis Lapenieks
Running time 48 minutes
Production company(s) Roy Huggins-Public Arts Productions
Universal TV
Distributor ABC
Universal TV
Original channel ABC
Original release March 21, 1973 (1973-03-21) – May 10, 1974 (1974-05-10)
Related shows Baretta

Toma is an American crime drama series that ran on ABC in 1973 and 1974.


The series stars Tony Musante and Susan Strasberg and was based on the real-life story and published biography of Newark, New Jersey, police detective David Toma. Toma had compiled an amazing arrest record during his years on the force, particularly in arresting drug dealers.[1] Toma was known as a master of disguise and undercover work, and achieved his success while never firing his gun. After retiring from the force, Toma became one of America's most sought-after speakers, lecturing students all over the country about the dangers of drugs. Toma himself usually made a cameo appearance in episodes as a minor character (bartender, police officer, etc.). His boss, Inspector Spooner, was played by character actor Simon Oakland.


Pilot (1973)[edit]

Episode Directed by Written by Original air date
"Toma" Richard T. Heffron Gerald Di Pego,
Edward Hume
March 21, 1973 (1973-03-21)
90-minute TV-movie: A cop in Newark, New Jersey, defies his superiors to try to bring down the head of a Mafia numbers racket.

Season 1 (1973–74)[edit]

No. Episode Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "The Oberon Contract" Jeannot Szwarc Stephen J. Cannell,
Roy Huggins
October 4, 1973 (1973-10-04)
Toma helps out an ex-con who has been framed for murder.
2 "Ambush on 7th Avenue" * * October 11, 1973 (1973-10-11)
Toma teams up with a college student to investigate a gang killing gone bad.
3 "Crime Without Victim" Daniel Haller Stephen J. Cannell,
Roy Huggins
October 11, 1973 (1973-10-11)
A hostage escapes from her kidnappers, but that's not the end of the matter as Toma soon discovers.
4 "Stakeout" Nicholas Colasanto Roy Huggins October 25, 1973 (1973-10-25)
Toma and his new partner are assigned to track down a pusher by staking out his girlfriend.
5 "The Cain Connection" * Stephen J. Cannell,
Roy Huggins
November 1, 1973 (1973-11-01)
A desperate novelist decides to take a page from one of his own books when he accidentally acquires a shipment of heroin.
6 "Blockhouse Breakdown" Richard C. Bennett Lonne Elder III,
Roy Huggins
November 8, 1973 (1973-11-08)
Toma goes up against a sniper, Billy Haskell, who has decided to open fire on the crowds from the top of an office building.
7 "Frame-Up" Marc Daniels Stephen J. Cannell November 15, 1973 (1973-11-15)
When a numbers runner turns up beaten to within an inch of his life, Toma is accused of the crime.
8 "The Bambara Bust" Alexander Grasshoff Judy Burns,
Roy Huggins
December 6, 1973 (1973-12-06)
A heroin-smuggling ring that uses an ocean liner to move their product is Toma's next target.
9 "50 Percent Normal" Jeannot Szwarc Zekial Marko,
"Peter Salerno,"
Jane Sparkes
January 18, 1974 (1974-01-18)
A particularly violent rapist who wears a ski mask to conceal his identity is on the loose, and Toma is assigned to the case.
10 "Rock-A-Bye" Joseph Hardy Jane Sparkes,
"Peter Salerno"
January 25, 1974 (1974-01-25)
Black marketeers are selling babies to desperate couples, forcing Toma to go undercover as a prospective client.
11 "Time and Place Unknown: Part 1" * * February 8, 1974 (1974-02-08)
12 "Time and Place Unknown: Part 2" * * February 15, 1974 (1974-02-15)
13 "A Funeral for Max Fabian" Alexander Grasshoff Zekial Marko February 22, 1974 (1974-02-22)
Toma takes on the dockworkers' union by going undercover as a stevedore.
14 "The Big Dealers" * * March 1, 1974 (1974-03-01)
15 "The Contract on Alex Cordeen" Alexander Grasshoff Stephen J. Cannell,
Roy Huggins
March 8, 1974 (1974-03-08)
Mobster Alex Cordeen makes an unusual request of Toma: he wants the undercover cop to watch him be assassinated.
16 "Joey the Weep" Charles S. Dubin Don Carlos Dunaway,
Roy Huggins
March 22, 1974 (1974-03-22)
A small-time crook turns up dead, and Toma tries to work out why anyone want him murdered.
17 "Friends of Danny Beecher" Alexander Grasshoff Gloryette Clark,
Edward Hume
March 29, 1974 (1974-03-29)
Ex-con Danny Beecher kills the cop who put him away and goes on the run, and Toma has to find him.
18 "The Madam" Michael Schultz Juanita Bartlett,
Roy Huggins
April 12, 1974 (1974-04-12)
Toma's next target is a crook who gets women strung out on drugs and then sells them to the syndicate as prostitutes.
19 "Pound of Flesh" * * April 19, 1974 (1974-04-19)
A case strikes close to home for Toma when he helps out a restaurant owner who used to be close to Patty, and is now the target of loan sharks.
20 "Indictment" Gary Nelson Juanita Bartlett,
Roy Huggins
April 26, 1974 (1974-04-26)
Toma finds himself at odds with a prosecutor who will do anything to win his cases.
21 "The Street" Jeannot Szwarc Zekial Marko May 3, 1974 (1974-05-03)
Toma has a racial war on his hands when a crime threatens to set off riots in the ghettos.
22 "The Accused" Russ Mayberry Don Carlos Dunaway,
David Toma
May 10, 1974 (1974-05-10)
Bernie Travlos has a reputation as a good cop, but Toma has his doubts when Bernie is connected to a murder.

* Unknown


The series received favorable reviews[2][3] and blistering criticism for its depictions of criminal and police violence.[4][5] Although Toma was achieving relatively good ratings,[6] the show was cancelled after one season. A second season was planned, but Tony Musante refused to continue with the show.[7][8] Musante had told the producers at the outset that he only wanted to do one season, but they mistakenly believed he would return if the series was renewed.[7][9]



Main article: Baretta

The show was retooled as Baretta starring Robert Blake, with violent scenes toned down. Baretta debuted as a mid-season replacement on ABC in early 1975.[10]

The Rockford Files[edit]

Main article: The Rockford Files

According to interviews on The Greatest American Hero DVD set, a writers strike during the shooting of Toma is what indirectly led to The Rockford Files.[citation needed] Writer Stephen J. Cannell and his mentor Roy Huggins created the character of Jim Rockford as a way to get around an impossible schedule created by the strike.


Despite having contributed to the development of the more-widely-seen Baretta, reruns of Toma were never syndicated to local stations, and repeats of the show on national television post-cancellation had been sporadic. Repeats of Toma aired in the late-1970s during ABC Late Night, and later on USA Network's Crimebusters in 1984-1985. One episode aired on TV Land in 2001.


  1. ^ "Newark Detective of Many Disguises Gets a Bit Part in TV Film of His Life; Still Wears Disguises". The New York Times. 1973-03-21. 
  2. ^ Smith, Cecil (1973-10-03). "Wambaugh Series a Genuine Article". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Adler, Dick (1974-01-25). "Toma - 'Rockabye' - Reality Enriches 'Gimmick' Series". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1973-10-05). "TV: For Chronic Dial Flipper, Mixed-Bag Season". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Deeb, Gary (1973-10-04). "Police Story debut unmasks real cops". Chicago Tribune. 
  6. ^ Brown, Les (1974-02-14). "Midseason Correction Lifts A.B.C. to Second Place". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, John (1974-07-24). "TV: Star of Dropped 'Toma' Tells What Happened". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Deeb, Gary (1974-05-23). "Gun-downed Toma is ready for a showdown with ABC". Chicago Tribune. 
  9. ^ Finnigan, Joseph (1974-06-29). "TV Teletype: Hollywood". TV Guide. 
  10. ^ Haber, Joyce (1974-11-04). "Networks Running Out of Seasons". Los Angeles Times. 

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