Barnaby Jones

1973 | United States

Barnaby Jones is enjoying his retirement breeding horses and enjoying the quiet life, having left his private investigator business in the capable hands of his son, Hal. But his world is shattered when Hal is murdered and Barnaby comes out of retirement to track down the killer. Having nailed the murderer Barnaby turns his back on his ranch to take control of the Los Angeles law firm once more. Aided by Hal's widow, Betty (Lee Meriwether), Barnaby operates as a sort of US male Miss Marple, utilising his keen analytical skills and luring the guilty into a false sense of security by being deceptively slow and vague rather than resorting to violence. 

Buddy Ebsen, best remembered as the millionaire bumpkin Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies, was already 64 when Barnaby Jones first appeared on US television in 1973 and he was 72 when the series finally came to an end. In the latter years of this this long-running Quinn Martin production another character was introduced, JR (Jedediah Romano), played by Mark Shera. This allowed Ebsen to reduce his workload as Meriwether and Shera's characters became more prominent. 

A whole host of established Hollywood stars turned up in the series, including Stefanie Powers, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Roddy McDowell and Leslie Nielsen, while a number of newcomers passed through on their way to stardom, including Don Johnson, James Woods and Tommy Lee Jones. One familiar face was William Conrad as Frank Cannon, allowing two series; Barnaby Jones and Cannon to cross over on several occasions. 

Published on November 28th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.