1 9 7 5 – 1 9 7 6 (USA)
14 x 60 minute episodes
The Wrecking Crew (1969) was the end of the line for the Dean Martin-as-Matt Helm franchise on the big screen, but in 1975, Man From U.N.C.L.E co-creator Sam Rolf attempted to relaunch the character on TV.
Gone was the comedy, although the tone remained light. Anthony Franciosa played an older Helm as a smoothie 1970s detective-about-Burbank rather than the icy cool secret agent of the Donald Hamilton books and Dean Martin films.
Helm now lived in Malibu Beach, California, and had a beautiful blonde attorney girlfriend named Claire Kronski (Laraine Stephens). Matt and “Kronsksi” (as he always called her) were very much in love.
Matt was not a typical private eye. His years of government experience had made him more perceptive and able to see crime in a different light. He knew how to use his wits to outsmart the enemy – but still hadn’t learned to avoid confrontations that led to him often coming off worse for wear (shot at, knocked out or beaten up).
But Matt always found a way to come out on top and Claire’s legal expertise often helped him out (he said of her, “Kronski is the most honest lawyer who ever lived but one of the sneakiest people I have ever known.”)
He also still had an eye for the ladies, although this didn’t seem to bother Claire as she knew he would always be faithful to her.
Ethel (Jeff Donnell) – who called Matt “Matthew” – ran the telephone service he used (Ethel’s Answering Service) and Lieutenant Hanrahan (Gene Evans) was Matt’s friend in the Homicide Division of the LAPD.
With neither the suspenseful atmosphere of the books’ government assassin nor the light-hearted tone of the Martin films, the series struggled to find its place in the hearts of America’s TV viewers. The series lasted only 14 episodes on ABC and is largely forgotten – apart from the episode featuring future Wonder Woman Lynda Carter in a bikini.
And here’s a picture 🙂
Matt Helm | Dead Men Talk | Now I Lay Me Down to Die | Scavenger’s Paradise | The Game of the Century | Murder on Ice | Squeeze Play | Deadly Breed | Death Rods | Double Jeopardy | Think Murder | Murder on the Run | Panic | Die Once, Die Twice