He was a television writer, producer and creator. He also made movies and wrote novels. The last sentence I didn’t know about until I looked up Stephen J. Cannell, who passed away last week, losing his fight with cancer.
Cannell would even step in front of the camera now and then, including a recurring character on the Lorenzo Lamas series Renegade, but it’s the series he created or wrote for that he brought him fame. In a special edition of the Saturday Night Showcase I won’t be post videos, but will link to Hulu’s pages for three of my all-time favorite shows that he was a part of.
Click on the image to go to the Hulu page.
(all images taken from Cannell’s official website, as linked to above)
It’s rare for me to watch a cop show. There are some good ones, but I just don’t get into them. Adam-12 was a rare exception. I don’t know why, but something was different about the show. Much like Jack Webb’s other non-Dragnet series, Emergency, Adam-12 followed the day-to-day lives of its character, except instead of paramedics and doctors it was two police officers, veteran Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and rookie Jim Reed (Kent McCoy). Ordinarily there was no storyline taking up the full episode as the officers tried to solve one crime but a subplot involving some discussion they were having as they solved individual crises (lost person, domestic issue, purse snatching, etc.), and they made it work.
Best Episode from memory: I can’t find the title of it, but there’s an episode where an officer goes missing with reports of shots fired, and not knowing which officer, the subplot involved Malloy and Reed trying to do their job while the dispatcher calls one squad car after another for them to check in. The one that doesn’t check in is the one in trouble. You know it’s not Adam-12 (Reed and Malloy’s squad car number) but watching them attempt to do their jobs while worried about which of their fellow officers may be shot dead is gripping. Since I can’t find the title, I don’t know if Cannell wrote this one. The other two shows he created or co-created, so we know he’s involved.
You’re not surprised to see this on the list, I assume. The superhero parody stars teacher Ralph Hinkley (William Katt, who has been fighting for this show’s return, even co-producing a comic book) and FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp). Hinkley is selected by aliens to be given a suit that grants him superpowers to protect the Earth so we don’t share their world’s fate. Unfortunately, Ralph loses the instruction booklet (twice, as the series goes on) and doesn’t know how to use it. Bill is the guy who finds the cases that need a superhero’s special touch. Pam Davidson (Connie Selleca) is his lawyer and later his girlfriend, who gets drawn in and sometimes has to play peacekeeper between the two.
Best Episode from memory: The original pilot isn’t up on Hulu but may be on the DVD. (You can get Season 1 for $5 at Wal-Mart, and I would have it were it not for the huge stack I have to read.) However, the first episode is usual the way to go.
If you don’t know what this series is about, you haven’t been paying attention. Hannibal Smith (the late George Peppard) leads a team of framed soldiers as soldiers of fortune. The show that made Mr. T famous as B.A. Barracus, the series also stared Dirk Benedict as Templeton “Face” Peck (con-man) and Dwight Schultz as H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock (crazy man). Interestling, Benedict got his start in a sci-fi show (Battlestar Galactica) and Schultz had his other big break years later in a sci-fi show (Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Best Episode from memory: Why bother choosing one at this point, since I’ve had so little luck finding my choices. Besides, while the final season changed direction and if you ask me fell flat, the rest of the series was a lot of fun to watch.
There are plenty more (I found out he was behind the underrated The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage for Disney), but these are the ones I can find online. So enjoy the work of a genius who passed away, but left behind a legacy.