Amos Burke - Secret Agent, Burke's Law and Burke's Law


Amos Burke - Secret Agent (1965-1966)
Burke's Law (1963-1965)
Burke's Law (1994-1995)
Type: Revivals and Revampings
Group: 7

   Gene Barry's character of Amos Burke was a suave and debonair crime solver. As a TV character, to my mind, he seemed a bit of a TV programming opportunist.

   Amos Burke's first series was Burke's Law. It chronicled the adventures of Amos Burke, Los Angeles millionaire playboy and, believe it or not, police detective. Hey, at least, unlike Bruce Wayne, the guy did things the legit way as opposed to being a leotarded vigilante. In the course of his investigations, Burke would hob nob and run into the real life rich and famous. This meant the viewer at home got some mystery, adventure and celebs. It should be noted that Detective Burke hit the airwaves in the wake of another vaguely similar series. 77 Sunset Strip told the adventures of hip happening P.I.'s living the good life in L.A. It inspired both spin offs and knock offs and I'd have to say Amos comes close to looking a bit like the latter.

   As the 60's wore on, hipster P.I.'s went out of fashion though (Burke came in at the very end of the trend). The new vogue were shows inspired by a Mr. Bond... James Bond. Yes, spy shows were the new thing: I Spy, Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. just to name a few. And whaddya know? Suddenly in 1965 Burke's Law became Amos Burke - Secret Agent. Yep, Amos ditched the L.A.P.D. to work as a spy for Uncle Sam. Say what you will, Burke was definitely an L.A. guy - whatever the hot trend was he jumped on the band wagon. Nobody bought it though. Amos Burke - Secret Agent only lasted half a season. Thank God it ended before those cheesy 70's variety shows became the big thing. "Amos Burke's Wacky Good Time Show Featuring The Burke's Ice Folly Girls". Yikes.

   Cut to the mid 90's. Murder, She Wrote has become a huge hit with older TV viewers. Every week Jessica Fletcher encounters a new group of celebrity guests in a Whodunnit. The show spawns its own glut of spin offs and knock offs that try to get ratings out of the same sort of formula: The Law And Harry McGraw, Diagnosis Murder... and Burke's Law? You know it. If there is any sort of popular TV wave to be ridden you can bet Amos Burke'll will do his damndest to catch it. Not exactly the hippest hottest wave? Focused mainly on older viewers? Sure. So what? Burke wasn't exactly a spring chicken himself. So Burke was back, retired from the spy game and back to working the super rich detective beat. Hey, tons of celebrity guests with a mystery to solve was what he had done best so why not do it again?

   Only thing is on shows like Murder, She Wrote you could have major and minor celebrities and those celebrities played characters. On Burke's Law minor stars might be able to snag character parts but given the show's premise major stars were needed on a regular basis to play themselves. He was the hob nobbing big shot remember. Well he mainly got to hob nob with the older actor crowd on this new Burke's Law - old Hollywood talent that wasn't exactly getting lots of other work. But for an older audience this had appeal. They got to see the stars they loved from the past. It also meant though that the younger crowd really kept its distance.

   But Burke's timing was still off or something. He came in late on the 60's detective craze, didn't pull off the secret agent thing and now he couldn't seem to make a go of the older celebrity mystery show thing. After popping up on CBS's schedule for two different runs Amos Burke was sent back into retirement. I am quietly awaiting the game show Who Wants To Win Amos Burke's Millions.

Other Burke's Law (All Versions) Crossover Links
Burke's Law and Honey West

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