Quincy, M.E., ran from 1976 to 1983 on NBC. The first four episodes of this three-disc set were part of the last season of The NBC Mystery Movie, which was an umbrella title for a rotation of television mysteries like Columbo and McCloud.
It was successfully spun off into its own hour-long series, which make up the remaining twelve episodes. It is a creation of Glen A Larson, a television legend of the ’70s and ’80s, who has a great track record creating and producing such hit series as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Hardy Boys, Battlestar Galactica, B.J. and the Bear, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Magnum P.I., and Knight Rider.
Jack Klugman, Emmy-nominated for best actor in a drama during the second season, stars as Los Angeles Medical Examiner Quincy. None of the series’ writers ever came up with a first name for him, although the initial R. appears on his business card in one episode. He was even called “Quincy” by the priest who married him in a later season.
The basic premise of the show is that every dead body Quincy encounters is a result of foul play. He is usually the first one to realize something is amiss, and even though his theories always prove correct, each week he has to convince the same doubting Thomases by solving the case, much like Carl Kolchak and Fox Muldar.
Aside from the perpetrators, Quincy’s roadblocks are his skeptical, bean-counting boss at the City Coroner’s office, Dr Asten, who is more worried about overtime than murderers running free, and the gruff-talking police detective Lt. Monahan, who just wants to close cases and sees Quincy as a troublemaker.
But the deck isn’t stacked completely against Quincy. He gets help from Sam Fujiyama, his loyal lab assistant, Danny, his bartender, and Lee, an airline stewardess. She looks at least 15 years younger than Quincy and appears to have a “friends with benefits” arrangement with him.
Quincy, M.E. is credited with being the first show about medical investigation. The packaging states that he was “The Original Crime Scene Investigator,” playing off the popularity of a current hot television franchise; however, Quincy doesn’t just solve crimes.
He pushes science to the forefront and fights against social injustice, dealing issues like euthanasia, child abuse and prisons. Yet at his core, he’s ladies’ man, always turning on the charm when he is around an attractive young lady. Somehow it worked, which is a bit of a stretch for the viewer when you see the fifty-something Klugman in action.
Even though the series was a drama mixed with lighter moments, I found the show to be unintentionally funny due to its acting, dialogue, plot, scientific graphics and the occasional anachronisms. Quincy would always have a big dramatic scene where he would shout at someone, usually due to their ignorance, like he was a tough talkin’, film noir detective.
Logic is thrown out the window at times to solve a crime in 60 minutes, such as when a killer flies to Switzerland to deposit checks, cannot be found in Europe, yet he returns to Mexico to destroy some evidence and kill Quincy.
Of course, no one knew who he was and the evidence wouldn’t have helped identify him or reveal where he was. The real reason he returned was so Quincy could catch him. The episodes have awesome titles like “Fight City Hall – To The Death,” “A Good Smack in the Mouth” and “A Star Is Dead” that help illustrate the melodramatic, over-the-top nature of the show.
The two seasons in this collection are from ’76 and ’77, resulting in the show being chock full of stars like Buddy Hackett, Donna Mills, and Adriene Barbeau along with future stars like Jaime Lee Curtis and Kim Catrall.
The episodes were transferred to the discs without being struck from a new negative so picture is dirty in places. There are no supplemental materials. It’s a must-have for fans of the show and a good rental for fans of ’70s/’80s television.