Friday, July 9, 2010

It's the Law

Not many will remember the 1962 TV series Burke's Law, but I do.If only because I got to stay up late when I was in the hospital over Easter weekend due to a troublesome adenoid operation. I may have missed Easter candy, and drank so many strawberry milkshakes that I still can't stand the taste, but at least I got to see Burke's Law.

It stars Gene Barry as Amos Burke, the millionaire playboy chief of homicide for Los Angeles. Yes, a millionaire policeman, whose Filipino chauffeur (Leon Lontoc) drives him to crime scenes in a Rolls Royce. And picks him up at the home of one of the young lovelies he visits - and maybe even stays with. He has a crusty older assistany (Regis Toomey) and a handsome young know-it-all apprentice (Gary Conway), but the best part is the cast of guest stars.

Each show features three, four, maybe even six guests, curent, upcoming and even actors from classic movie days. For example, one episode featured Paul Lynde, Joan Blondell and Don Rickles (as a married couple!) and Mary Astor - who was much better than the show.We see both Barbara Eden, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Barbara Feldon. Zasu Pitts does a turn as a Norma Desmond type, in an episode with Charlie Ruggles as a butler, with Soupy Sales and Jim Backus. And this is just the first few episodes.

Along with these wild, wonderful collections of talent, we get pretty average murders (often involving rich men, mistresses, models and ingenues). We get lovely early 60s LA locations, including a Malibu beach house that I swear was in Into the Night.

Gene Barry has a nice solid, easy presence, a sort of Raymond Burr type, solemn without being serious. He really is a playboy, with a new hot item every week, most of whom are pouring martinis, or drinking from the pitcher. (Aside - we see the same prop martini pitcher in at least three episodes. Either that or it was a popular household item.)

The title comes from Barry's spouting little aphorisms, like "Never box with senior citizens. Burke's Law" or "Never eat little round pancakes when you're in a hurry. Burke's Law." I'd have to say it's the least appealing part of the series.

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