New Dick Van Dyke mystery series with the comedian recapping Dr. Mark Sloan flows well, with Van Dyke comfortable as a police medical consultant who’s also a free-spirited hospital physician. So much for reality. But writer James Kramer has penned a shrewd murder mystery as the series’ first entry; it’s starting off on the right foot.
Robert Guillaume’s a priest who’s being shaken down. It’s not often apriest kills on TV, but this one runs down the man threatening him, then follows him to Dr. Sloan’s hospital to make sure he’s dead. An apparent Alzheimer’s patient (legendary Sylvia Sydney) sees Guillaume inject air in the victim’s vein, but believes Guillaume’s God.
Far-fetched plotting works well under Michael Lange’s able direction as the roller-skating, upbeat Sloan tumbles into the case. His son Steve (Barry Van Dyke, Dick Van Dyke’s real-life son), conveniently investigating the death, works with his dad to find out what’s what, and pathologist Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio), not having enough to do, turn out to help.
Supervising producer Joyce Burditt, creator of the series based on a “Jake and the Fat Man” episode and on three vidpix, gives the program top values, with camerawork, editing and production design superior. Thesping, led by Van Dyke, helped by Delores Hall as his receptionist and Michael Tucci as the hard-nosed hospital administrator, serves the purpose well.
With continuing clever writing, prime guest actors like Guillaume and Sydney, and more good if implausible cases, Sloan’s shingle should be out for a good run.