DVD Review: Mannix (The Final Season)

Mike Connors never knew Mannix was coming to an end during Season 8. The show was still pulling a healthy rating and CBS was eager to renew for the 1975-76 season. Who forced Joe Mannix to turn in his P.I. license? Turns out that back then, a series couldn’t be syndicated until its network run ended. The studio was eager to finally cash in on the 194 episodes. Nowadays a series can hit the lucrative syndication world with barely four seasons and thus boost its ratings for new network episodes. The Big Bang Theory hasn’t suffered on CBS with all those airings on TBS. But it was a different mindset back in the pre-cable days. What’s interesting is that for all the rush to get Mannix into syndication, the first and last season weren’t part of the package. Mannix: The Final Season is a new experience for fans that didn’t catch the 8th season on CBS back in 1974.

“Portrait in Blues” contains no actual painting. Instead we get a California soft rock super duo that somebody wants broken up by homicide. One of the duo nearly gets electrocuted by a microphone. Mannix is brought in to determine who wanted to see their final show. The most shocked of the suspects is Larry Storch (F Troop) as a outrageous disc jockey with the mad patter between the platters. “A Fine Day for Dying” revives a coma victim. Trouble is that killers want the sleeper to take a dirt nap. Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls) is in her silver years. “Walk on the Blindside” brings trouble into the office. Mannix’s secretary Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher) gets kidnapped by mobsters who think she’s a fink. Can her boss rescue her?

“The Green Men” is a triple chase for a counterfeiter. Mannix needs to track down a guy with plates before he’s nabbed by the feds and crooks. What’s real is guest stars Scatman Crothers (The Shining) and Russell Johnson (Gilligan’s Island). Mannix becomes very popular in a small town in “Death has not Face.” What’s his secret? He’s the prime suspect in a murder. “Enter Tami Okada” might be a backdoor pilot with the legendary Mako (Conan the Barbarian) as a Japanese private eye needing help from Mannix in a diplomatic situation. However Mako would not get a spin-off. “Desert Sun” uncovers a homicide even if the locals don’t care how the Native American died. “The Survivor Who Wasn’t” has a wife swear her husband isn’t the man rescued from a plane crash. Mannix gets tortured by an old army buddy in “A Word Called Courage.” Anthony Zerbe (Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park) plays another nutty villain. “Man in a Trap” springs with Erik Estrada (CHiPs). “Chance Meeting” proves that Mannix didn’t have the worst old army buddies. “Edge of the Web” tangles up a college professor, his wife and a student. Do you get an easy “A” in Greek Drama studies when you kill the professor and sleep with his wife? “A Ransom for Yesterday” opens up a six year old missing person’s case when the kidnappers finally make their demand. Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati) and Dabney Coleman (Boardwalk Empire) might be the procrastinating kidnappers. “The Empty Tower” locks Mannix up with Bill Bixby (Clambake) in a vault. “Quartet for a Blunt Instrument” hits a funky note with Thalmus Rasulala (Blacula). “Bird of Prey” is a two parter that flies Mannix south of the border. There’s gonna be trouble with Robert Loggia as the guest star. “Design for Dying” brings the ghost of future TV detectives with Tom Selleck (Magnum P.I.) learning from the Man. Tom’s future co-star John Hillerman appears in “Search for a Dead Man.” Was that body belonging to Robin Masters? “Hardball” brings an end to the series with John Ritter’s help. His final case involves a gang wanting a snitch in exchange for six lives.

Perhaps it was a good thing that Mannix didn’t see the end coming. There’s no resting on his laurels this season. He’s not flashing back to his greatest hits taken on the jaw. He’s not having a big finale that supposed to sum up a series that was never dealing with a big story. He’s just Joe Mannix being the best private eye in the phonebook. Mannix: The Final Season wraps up his amazing run, but keeping him dashing forward instead of taking a victory lap.

The Episodes
“Portrait in Blues,” “Game Plan,” “A Fine Day for Dying,” “Walk on the Blind Side,” “The Green Men,” “Death Has No Face,” “A Small Favor for an Old Friend,” “Enter Tami Okada,” “Picture of a Shadow,” “Desert Sun,” “The Survivor Who Wasn’t,” “A Choice of Victims,” “A Word Called Courage,” “Man in a Trap,” “Chance Meeting,” “Edge of the Web,” “A Ransom for Yesterday,” “The Empty Tower,” “Quartet for a Blunt Instrument,” “Bird of Prey (two parter), “Design for Dying,” “Search for a Dead Man” and “Hardball.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the colors and details of Mannix’s life in the mid-70s. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels will let you hear every punch Mannix takes. The episodes are subtitled so you can hear over the gunshots.

There are no bonus features.

Mannix: The Final Season wraps up a great private eye series. Mannix knew how to give as much as he took on a case. He had as much guts as he had street smarts. Since the end of show was rather unexpected, the episodes don’t coast to the finale. Mannix kept on the case until the end.

CBS DVD presents Mannix: The Final Season. Starring: Mike Connors and Gail Fisher. Boxset Contents: 24 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: December 4, 2012. Available at Amazon.com

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