Let’s start with the opening theme for the 1967-1975 TV show Mannix, written by Lalo Schifrin.
I wasn’t much of a Mannix fan until after the show had completed its first run on CBS and was in reruns as part of The CBS Late Movie, where it ran back-to-back with Longstreet, a show about a blind detective. I think I was fighting depression at the time: it was the first quarter of sophomore year, I was taking classes towards a degree in Math and not doing well in any of them, and I felt no desire to do anything to make my situation better. Mannix reruns helped.
The show followed Joe Mannix, a private investigator. He was played by Mike Connors, who had some success as an actor on TV and in film.
During the first season, Joe worked for a detective agency called Intertect, which used computers to help solve cases. Mannix’s boss at Intertect was Lew Wickersham, played by another TV veteran, Joseph Campanella. Joe was often at odds with Lew and the other detectives, because unlike them, he ignored what the computer told him to do, openly disobeyed orders and argued with his boss, calling him “Big Brother” at one point.
We have Lucille Ball to thank for saving Mannix after the first season. She (the owner of Desilu, the studio where the show was made) and Bruce Geller (the producer) decided that viewers had a hard time relating to the high tech angle the show was based on, and in the second season Joe was on his own, assisted by Peggy Fair, his secretary whose husband, an LAPD officer, had been murdered. Peggy was played by the lovely Gail Fisher, one of the first African American women to play a leading role on a TV series.
Mannix was notorious for the amount of violence in it. Joe was either being beat up or was beating someone up in every show. It was nonetheless a very popular show, earning Mike Connors four Golden Globe nominations (winning once) and four Emmy nominations, and Gail Fisher four Emmy nominations (winning once) and three Golden Globe nominations (winning twice, the first Black actress to have done so). The show earned two Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe nominations, winning once, and writer Mann Rubin won an Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for the episode “A Step In Time.” The show paved the way for other private investigator shows during the ’70’s, including Ironside, Cannon and Barnaby Jones.
Social conditions being what they were in the ’60’s and ’70’s, the chances for a romance between Joe and Peggy were practically nonexistent. I always thought they’d make a good couple.
MeTV in the US carries Mannix reruns, which unfortunately run at 2 AM Eastern weekdays or I’d be up watching every night.