Larry Hagman returns to series TV as a lovable socialite-turned-crime-solver scheduled for NBC’s Friday Night Mystery wheel. Hagman has charm to spare, of course, but pilot is gimmicky, cliched, occasionally nonsensical; producers will have to do better in future.
To distinguish Hagman’s Alexander Turnbull Hollingsworth III from such other monied TV crime fighters as Amos Burke (“Burke’s Law”) Stewart McMillan (“McMillan and Wife”), and Matt Houston — not to mention Batman, the Green Hornet, Nick Charles (“The Thin Man”), etc. — Hagman’s character only appears to be rich.
Disinherited by his zillionaire father (Hagman again), he’s left with only an impressive yacht, butler Ryder (Eric Christmas) and an ill-spirited orange cat. The feds, personified by Gregg Henry’s ex-CIA man Ed Smith (“a victim of the New World Order”), have closed in on Turnbull, soliciting his help in solving crimes among the rich and famous.
“Here in Florida we don’t snitch, steal or rat on our friends,” replies Turnbull, setting up one of the show’s better lines. “What’s in it for me?”… Financial support, it turns out, with taxpayers’ money funneled to help Turnbull maintain his front.
Last regular is Lauren Morton (Claire Yarlett), eye-catching conperson who enters Turnbull’s sphere. This episode’s bad guys are Henry Ashley, well-enough played by Dakin Matthews, and several anonymous international gun runners.
While show is evidently intended to emulate the spirit of “Moonlighting” and old Cary Grant movies, it doesn’t. Everybody overplays, script is silly when it should be witty, and is sloppily written to boot.
Nobody’s going to forget J.R. Ewing for this one.