Mannix Dropped Its Main Gimmick After Its First Season
Today, we look at how Mannix dropped its main gimmick after its first season.
This is “Gonna Make a Change,” a feature where I spotlight shows that underwent major revamps during their runs to avoid cancellation. Note that I mean MAJOR revamps, not, like, M*A*S*H getting more serious as it went on or Cheers becoming more of an ensemble comedy once Shelley Long left.
Television is prone to taking the same basic concept and beating it into the ground, although usually with some variations on the main theme, and in the late 1960s/1970s, that idea was to do detective series with a one word title with the one word being the last name of the detective star of the series. Mannix, starring Mike Connors as Joe Mannix, was one of the earliest examples of this trend.
Original Concept: The main gimmick for Mannix in its first season was that Joe Mannix worked for Intertect, a high tech private investigation company that relied heavily on computer analysis for its investigations. The show was almost called Intertect. The other lead of the series was Joseph Campanella as Lew Wickersham, Mannix’s boss, who constantly clashed with Mannix, because Mannix hated using the computers and instead liked to rely on old-fashioned detective work.
Revamped Concept: In Season 2, Mannix quit Intertect, and began to work on his own. Campanella was gone, replaced by Gail Fisher as Peggy Fair, a police widow who served as Mannix’s secretary. The series became just a standard private detective series.
Did it get the show more than one last season?: Yes, the revamp was a success, and it ran eight seasons in total.
Okay, that’s it for this installment of “Gonna Make a Change,” please send in suggestions for other good revamps to my e-mail address of email@example.com!
4 thoughts on “Mannix Dropped Its Main Gimmick After Its First Season”
Um . . . the company for which Mannix worked (and almost was the show’s title) was “Intertect”, not Intercept.
I’m in the minority, I suppose, because this was my favourite season of MANNIX. I rather enjoyed the friction between Mannix and his boss, Lew Wickersham. Because it wasn’t performed in the usual television trope. Mannix and Wickersham were friends and they respected each other. And Wickersham, as seen in a few episodes, was a capable detective himself, who could do old-style sleuthing when he had to do so.
Lew simply saw computers as the leading edge of modern detective work, while Joe felt the job of investigations required more instinct than data.
I lost a lot of interest in MANNIX when it changed formats. To me, it became the stereotypical P. I. series, in which the hero walked the “mean streets” alone, except for his loyal secretary and tolerant police contact. To wit, something I had seen a dozen times over.
D’oh, thanks, Commander, silly typo! Fixed now!
And I thought Campanella was really good in Season 1, as well. I always thought he was a fine performer.
Aye, I figured you just had a brain synapse misfire. Happens to me all the time.
I, too, thought Joseph Campanella was a talented performer. I was always glad to see his name in a show’s opening credits. He had considerable charisma on screen and a good chemistry with Mike Connors.
Most write-ups of Mannix‘s first season (when one can find them) make it sound like Mannix and Wickersham were constantly at each other’s throats. But their relationship was more professional and complex than that. The show lost something when they no longer interacted.
Fair point, but I think Wickersham was still mostly there as a foil. I do agree that it is fair to say that he gets portrayed too much as a sort of dick boss, when really it was just a clash of styles (he still supported Mannix when the chips were down, of course).