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Small Talk: Gumshoe Gab

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Long time fan of this show, tried unsuccessfully to hunt it down in the VHS and DVD eras. Apparently there were legal wrangling over many of the episodes. Anyhoo, former TWOP poster here, same name, curious to kick the tires on how well this show has aged. 

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One aspect of 77SS I find interesting is the characters' frequent mentions of other WB TV shows.  "Bronco" seems to come up with odd frequency. :) I don't think you'd see this in shows today, accept perhaps comedies parodying or making fun of other shows (such as "The Simpsons", for example, do).

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This coming Friday's episode (technically Sat, March 3) is "The 6 Out of 8 Caper" is a good episode featuring Roscoe having to pick 5 straight winners at the track to save a client's daughter's life., 

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It seems like when the changed the opening for Season 4 the episodes have become more "serious." No "light-hearted" episodes since episode 5 "The Lady Has the Answers"

Thurs. (night/ Fri. morning) episode "Reserved for Mr. Bailey" is a solo episode featuring only Stu and disembodied voice. One of the more offbeat 77SS episodes. The cowriter (and director) of the episode also worked on "The Twilight Zone"

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According to the book “Warner Bros.: Hollywood's Ultimate Backlot” Jack Warner was upset over the money spent for the awning used for the set of 77SS! Which might explain the sometimes cheap looking sets used on the show, or reusing the same set repeatedly.

Edited by Tom Holmberg.
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Interesting that J Edgar Hoover thought Efrem Zimbalist, Jr might have been a Communist conspiring against him!

"The most intriguing of all is one that alludes to a theory that Zimbalist had been a communist all along, and was amassing resources through a for-profit grassroots organization called “Friends of the F.B.I.” in order to eventually supplant Hoover."

According to Zimbalist's FBI file, here: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/nov/23/efrem-zimbalist-fbi-file/

It's just weird and disturbing that he even had an FBI file, but that was Hoover.

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Only about two more weeks of "real" 77 Sunset Strip episodes left before they start running Season 6.  Someone else is going to have to take over reviewing those, because I not going to try watching them again.  Any fans of Season 6 out there?

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@Tom Holmberg I really don't enjoy Season 6 at all even though I like Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.  in a lot of things.   It's a completely different show.  I found this on Wikipedia:  

 

"Controversial sixth season, 1963–1964[edit]

In 1963, as the show's popularity waned, the entire cast except for Zimbalist was let go. Jack Webb was brought in as executive producer and William Conrad as a producer/director. The character of Stuart Bailey was presented as a solo private investigator, with no continuity or reference to his past years with Spencer, or his military OSS background. It was an abrupt, unexplained disconnect. The series and Bailey's personality took on a darker tone.[3]. The familiar office, parking lot and Dino's Lodge were gone. A new musical theme was written by Bob Thompson.

The Season Six show title was not changed, it still was an address, but Bailey's new office was dramatically different from Bailey and Spencer's 77 Sunset Strip office of the past five years. The interior of Bailey's new office building was shown behind the show's opening and closing credits, forcing viewers to ponder how the same address could look so very different (it was actually the historic Bradbury building in downtown Los Angeles).

There seemed to be no mention of his office address in the Season Six shows, however in episode "Bonus Baby" when a police officer inspects Bailey's Private Investigator License, a close-up shows "77 Sunset Strip". Perhaps that brief shot was supposed to explain the show's title, but surely it confused viewers. The P.I. License shows his business as "Bailey Investigations", and his name as "S. Bailey", though a real license would state the person's full name.

As the season progressed, there were some shifts in tone. Several episodes into the season, Bailey's stern personality became lighter, though still different from prior seasons. His secretary Hannah, previously known to viewers only because Bailey addressed her in his recorded dictations, became a real person, working in Bailey's office, where he kept asking for a date which she refused. As of episode "Alimony League", opening and closing background of Bradbury building was gone, replaced by Bailey in silhouette walking past lighted store windows.

Episode "The Target" was unusual because key roles were played by the show's primary behind-the-scenes people, who happened to also be experienced actors. Show producer William Conrad played "Maestrian", associate producer James Lydon played "Charlie", writer Tony Barrett played "Carnovan", and director "Lawrance Dobkin" played "Landers".

Season Six of "77 Sunset Strip" was essentially a different show that oddly used the title and one character from a different prior show, and showed a different building with the same address. Viewers did not appreciate such a massive alteration, and the show was cancelled halfway through its sixth season in February 1964. In the 1964 summer reruns period, shows from Bailey and Spencer years were shown; the Season Six episodes were abandoned, rarely seen until 2017 on MeTV. If Season Six instead had been presented as a new series with a different title and character and address, starring popular Zimbalist, it might have been accepted."

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The sixth season really made no sense. "77SS" was created in reaction to the "Dragnet"-type of crime shows. If the ratings were so poor why not just create a new series starring Efrem Zimbalist?  To a real extent it seems like Zimbalist had pretty much given up during season five, so maybe he was part of the problem (they also seemed to be recycling old plots).  He didn't seem to have the lighter touch that he occasionally showed in the early seasons any more. Zimbalist claimed that Webb turned him into a Sgt. Friday clone. A smarter move would probably to get off WB's backlot and shoot on location in LA, that might have freshened the look and feel. Although by 1964 Sunset Strip was becoming more of a teenaged hangout, you might have met "the hipster", but probably not "the starlet and the phony tipster" nor "most every kind of gal and guy including a private eye".

Edited by Tom Holmberg.
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Some background on 77 Sunset Strip:

Before producing the series, Warner Bros. created a pilot movie called “Girl on the Run,” which apparently received theatrical release only in the West Indies, but was shown on TV in the US. Cheapskate Jack Warner wanted the movie to be shown theatrically  so he could later claim “77 Sunset Strip” was based on an "existing studio property" and not on a property created by Roy Huggins, who had written some novels featuring a hard-boiled dick named Stuart Bailey in the 40s and one of which was made into a movie, "I Love Trouble". Huggins claimed that Warner basically threatened to fire the head of WB's TV division if the company had to pay royalties to the actors or writers. Jack Warner also screwed Huggins out of royalties for “Maverick” using a similar trick. Huggins left WB towards the end of 1960 for 20th Century-Fox. Huggins, having learned his lesson at WB, innovated what has become known as the “Huggins Contract”, giving the creator rights and royalties whether he produced the show or not.  It was in the pilot movie where Edd Byrnes played a psycho punk with a comb. Byrnes had such a reaction from viewers that he became the character of Kookie and was written into the series.  WB used multiple leads in their weekly shows (“Maverick” and the "77SS" clones, as other examples) to speed up production by filming more than one episode at a time.

Roy Huggins interview: https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/interviews/roy-huggins

Info on "I Love Trouble" movie: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2014/07/overlooked-films-i-love-trouble-double.html

And the Stu Bailey book: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2010/09/forgotten-books-double-take-by-roy.html

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