Author: JoAnn M. Paul

Publisher: BearManor Media (April 2, 2014)

ISBN-10: 159393565X

ISBN-13: 978-1593935658


Perhaps you're one of the viewers who first experienced Mike Connors playing Joe Mannix during the original run of Mannix from September 7, 1967 to April 10, 1975.    Perhaps you remember the first season when the show had Joe working for the private detective agency, Intertect, when Joseph Campanella played Mannix's boss, Lew Wickersham. More likely, you remember the second through eighth seasons when Intertect was replaced by the loyal and lovely African-American secretary, Peggy Fair (played by Gail Foster). Whatever you remember, you likely didn't take the show as seriously as author JoAnn M. Paul.

For Paul, her childhood viewing of Mannix seemed to be just shy of a religious experience. She can remember the original episodes in such detail that she knows what scenes were cut from syndicated broadcasts. She's the sort of fan who tells us, in vivid detail, why she collected all the DVD sets but didn't watch any of them until she had all the seasons. She's the sort of fan who clearly spent hours freeze-framing close-up shots to study the nuances of facial expressions. As a result, And Now Back to Mannix isn't a reference book on one TV series, but rather a very intellectual analysis of why Mannix should be considered a significant contribution to our cultural mythos.

For Paul, the character of Joe Mannix was an archetypal hero who persevered despite all the pain and physical beatings he endured. In the first season, the show was focused on a man working in a computer-oriented environment in which the Korean War vet bucked against the system. Feeling this concept was too gimmicky, studio owner Lucille Ball and series producer Bruce Geller decided to revamp the show away from the man vs. machine setting in favor of a vulnerable blend of Sam Spade and James Bond. For Paul, the revised Joe Mannix is dignified, tough, and cool. As opposed to The Rockford Files, which Paul unfavorably compares to Mannix, the values are clear-cut, the product of a pre-Vietnam mindset.

And Now Back to Mannix is, in large part, an academic treatise with considerable repetition and no citations. Paul supports her claims with close examinations of many signature episodes, such as "Sound of Darkness," especially those that showcase the ambiguous relationship between Joe and Peggy. Paul admits many revelations require multiple viewings. There are no interviews with any participants and scant credit to the writers or directors. Paul claims the show pioneered the "personalized crime fighter," but doesn't show much awareness of the numerous PIs of TV and radio before Mannix. In her view, apparently no private detective before Joe Mannix was emotional or had vulnerable moments. Before Mannix, it seems, along and popular genre was little more than one-dimensional plots.

In short, And Now Back to Mannix is a cerebral exploration of what Paul believes a cultural hero should be based on her interpretation of one TV character best known for fistfights, sending cars over cliffs, a stylish sportcoat, and admittedly an important African-American co-star. Certainly, a show that lasted eight years while enduring some unhelpful time slots had substance as well as style. But whether or not it's worthy of such intense devotion is a question few of us would hire a detective to answer. Still, if you're a Mannix devotee, perhaps Paul's study will deepen your appreciation of a show with more levels than you thought.

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