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Featured TV on DVD Review: Mannix: Season Five

July 4th, 2011

Mannix: Season Five - Buy from Amazon

We are officially on the second half of Mannix, which means if averages hold up, he only has to be shot about 8 or 9 more times, and knocked unconscious just under 30 more times. Yep, Mannix was one of the most violent P.I. shows of its day, but unlike similar shows made now, it wasn't graphically violent. This does date the show somewhat, but will the mysteries stand the test of time?

The Show

Mike Connors plays Joe Mannix, with Gail Fisher playing Peggy Fair, his trusted and loyal secretary. This is the fourth season the pair have been working together. (The first season Mannix worked for a high-tech detective firm called Intertech, something that was alluded to in the first episode. I think. It was subtle and I might be reading too much into a throwaway line.) In that episode, Mannix is contacted by an old friend, whose daughter is about the same age as Mannix. She's worried her daughter is in some kind of trouble, and she's right. Next episode, Mannix is on a sky vacation with two friends. However, when he and the two woman head down the ski hill, one of them doesn't make it. Mannix suspects foul play, but there doesn't seem to be any motive. That changes when he realizes it was the other woman who was the real target. Dean Stockwell shows up in A Step in Time. In the beginning of that episode, Mannix witnesses an attack while he is jogging on the beach, but when he talks to the cops, they know what he saw before he can tell him, because the attack he is describing happened a year ago. In Wine from These Grapes, Mannix returns home to visit his dad, and to help someone accused of murder. The case involves a vineyard dealing with a labor dispute, which turns out to be more complicated than that. It also features Marion Ross in a guest shot.

Disc two gets off to a slow start, so we will skip to Days Beyond Recall. In this episode, Mannix is hired by a woman who asks him to find her brother, who is on an alcoholic bender. This is a good episode, but it is also noteworthy for a couple key guest shots by some great characters actors: Vic Morrow and Geoffrey Lewis. Also, Peggy Fair mentions Mannix might have a concussion. Given how often he's knocked unconscious, and how each concussion makes suffering another concussion more likely, I'm surprised he doesn't get knocked out every time he stands up. When the coach of a youth baseball team goes missing they hire Mannix to find him. However, the case turns out to be a lot harder than it first looked, as the coach was going by an assumed name. Mannix helps catch a cop killer in The Glass Trap, but getting him back to where he's going to be tried might prove difficult.

Disc three starts with Peggy getting kidnapped in A Choice of Evils and the only way Mannix can rescue her is by using his detective skills to help a crime boss discover who is betraying him. A Button for General D starts with a friend of Mannix's involved in a hostage situation, as the hostage taker, not the hostage. He doesn't live, but his dying works are a cryptic message that Joe tries to decipher. It's an interesting setup, but the payoff isn't as good as it could be. A friend of Mannix's from his days in the military shows up in The Man Outside, but it's not a social visit, as he is being blackmailed. He just wants the blackmailer paid and have the whole thing over with, but things are more complicated than they first appear. They always are. The disc ends with Murder Times Three, which starts with an attempt on Mannix's life, well, a half-assed attempt. He's sure it has to do with one of the cases he's working on, but when all three clients fire him that day, he's not sure where to start.

A friend of Mannix, and a fellow private eye, is murdered. The last thing he did before he was shot was mail a confidential letter to Mannix. It's a good episode, and it has a guest appearance by Vic Tayback (her was in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, among countless TV shows and movies). In To Save a Dead Man, a dying man confesses to a nun that he put an innocent man in prison. She goes to Mannix to have him investigate. Milton Berle shows up in Nightshade, as a nightclub performer who is being blackmailed. In Babe in the Woods, an electronics engineer was killed over the design for a microcircuit that could result in computers the size of a briefcase. It's a good episode, but that comment early on really makes it sound out of date.

Disc five starts with a good case, The Sound of Murder. Mannix is hired by a woman to find her husband, but while working on that case, he stumbles into the murder of a former private eye turned criminal. Jessica Walter shows up in Moving Target, and it's always fun to see someone from Arrested Development. In A Walk in the Shadows a man hires Mannix to catch his wife with her lover, but when she's killed, he's the obvious prime suspect. However, he claims the lover did it.

The final disc starts with Lifeline. A nightclub performer, Vance, who has a fan in Peggy, is visited by the cops after a performance because he has a minor traffic ticket he has to deal with. However, instead of paying what would really be a minor fine, he runs. Clearly he's got something he's trying to hide, but can Mannix help him out before Vance gets in over his head. Six months before the start of To Draw the Lightning, a cop killer was freed on a technicality. The dead cop's former partner still holds a grudge against the killer. He gets a call from a confidential informant about a warehouse robbery, but the potential bust goes bad and someone is killed. That someone is the very criminal who killed his partner. At first he hired Mannix to clear his name, but suddenly orders Mannix off the job. Of course that doesn't stop Mannix from investigating. Dean Wormer shows up in Scapegoat. John Vernon is a great actor, but overall it's merely an average episode. The season ends with Mannix at the races, but he's nearly killed in a crash after someone spikes his coffee. Whatever it was, it really sends him for a loop and he winds up in a mental hospital for a while and when he gets out, he's not a whole lot more coherent.

The Extras

There are no extras on the 6-disc set. There are subtitles, proper chapter placements, and play all buttons.

The Verdict

Mannix: Season Five maintains the amazing consistency of previous seasons and even the weakest episodes are worth checking out. All but a few have serious replay value. Granted, I'm not happy with the lack of extras, but the six-disc set is still worth picking up.

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