REASONS QUINN MARTIN TV SHOWS WERE ALL ALIKE
Quinn Martin produced lots of workmanlike TV crime dramas in the 70's. His big hits were The FBI, Barnaby Jones, Cannon & The Streets of San Francisco. They were corny with a rigid structure that gave them all a comforting sameness. You always knew you were watching a Quinn Martin show for the reasons listed below.
- •Quinn Martin episodes had hilarious titles.They were made even more hilarious by the deadly seriousness of the announcer, Hank Sims, saying the title as it appeared on screen. Basically every title had to have one of the following words: murder, terror, kill, death or die. Other actual title examples: "Stand-in for Death," "A Well Remembered Terror," "A Gold Record For Murder," "AWOL to Kill," etc.
- •The opening credits showed each lead actor and told you who they were.
- •The guest actors got the same treatment.Also, Quinn Martin shows kept coming back to the same stable of actors and they were always typecast. This guy played slippery characters in every 70's tv show imaginable. He was on The FBI four different times playing four different characters.
- •Quinn Martin never let you forget you were watching a Quinn Martin production. His name or "QM Productions" was everywhere. On Show's Title card:
- •In the actual credits:
- •On the episode title card:
- •And at the end of the closing credits:
- •You always knew where you were in the story.When the show came back from commercials, they always reminded you what show you were watching and what act was about to unfold. (Maybe this gave me a sense of story structure at a very young age.) I have to admit though I'm a little disappointed in Quinn for not jamming his name in there too.
- •And of course, there was the Epilog:
- •Every Quinn Martin character drove a Ford.There are Fords everywhere. Occasionally someone would drive a foreign car but they were always a villain.
- •The acting wasn't subtle.The leads were accomplished actors but the guest cast not so much. For instance, can you tell this woman is a villain?
- •Quinn Martin cast lead actors who looked like this:(A rare crossover episode between Barnaby Jones and Cannon.)
- •Quinn Martin shows were sausage parties.Even more than today TV was the land of the white male. There were few roles for women in crime shows and only one lead woman in any Quinn Martin show. And of course she wasn't allowed to be old or dumpy like Barnaby or Cannon, She was Lee Meriwether, a former Miss America.
- •Everyone drank.It seemed like everyone was set up with a bar full of decanters in their home. Characters would frequently trade dialog while pouring themselves straight alcohol in the middle of the day.
- •But QM shows did evolve.The FBI was a very stodgy show. Rumor was their scripts had to be approved by J. Edgar Hoover personally. By the time Streets of San Francisco came along, it was doing shows about drugs, murderous cults, pornography, etc. Compared to The FBI it looked like The Wire. Also Streets had maybe the most awesome theme music ever and was shot entirely on location in San Francisco. It starred acting icon Karl Malden and then unknown Michael Douglas, who was cool as shit.