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Burke's Law

Burke's Law is a detective series that ran on ABC from 1963 to 1965 and was revived on CBS in the 1990s. The show starred Gene Barry as Amos Burke, millionaire captain of Los Angeles police homicide division, who was chauffeured around to solve crimes in his Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II.

There were stylistic similarities to Barry's previous series, Bat Masterson, in which he had played the debonair lawman of the old west. During the opening credits, as the title flashed onscreen, a woman's voice was heard seductively pronouncing the words "It's Burke's Law!" The title also reflected Burke's habit of dispensing wisdom to his underlings in a professorial manner, e.g.: "Never ask a question unless you already know the answer. Burke's Law."

The title of each episode started with the words "Who Killed...?" with the name or description of the victim (who inevitably died in the show's opening minutes) completing it.

In the original series, other characters were Detective Tim Tilson (Gary Conway), Detective Les Hart (Regis Toomey), Sergeant Ames (Eileen O'Neill), and chauffeur Henry (Leon Lontoc). Tilson was a go-getting young man whose skill at finding clues and trace references didn't result in his solving the murders, being always outflanked by Burke's cool intuition.

A guest appearance by Anne Francis as female detective Honey West led to a short-lived spin-off series.

The role of Amos Burke actually predated Barry's series, having been played by Dick Powell on the initial episode of The Dick Powell Show in September 1961. The first incarnation of the series was produced by Powell's company, Four Star Television.

In the final season of the original series (1965–1966), the show was given a complete overhaul and retitled Amos Burke, Secret Agent. Burke went to work for a secret government agency, but still drove around in his Rolls, which had been discreetly bulletproofed by the agency. The supporting cast of the earlier seasons was dropped. The change in format was a reaction to the wildly popular spy trend inspired by the James Bond films and the television success of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. (That year also saw the debut of I Spy, The Wild Wild West, and Get Smart.) The new show was not a success and only seventeen episodes were broadcast instead of the thirty-two of the first two seasons.

 

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