Stay up late enough on any weeknight and you might have the good fortune to stumble upon “Mannix” on MeTV at 2 a.m.
To which you might ask: With all of the tonnage of high-quality, provocative TV shows in production today and running by the hundreds on our TV networks and streaming services, why single out some old show from the ’70s (1968-75 to be exact) for discussion in this TV Blog
The answer is that I have come to appreciate the way TV shows were once produced and presented -- precisely as a result of my immersion in the new world of television we are in now.
There is nothing wrong with the current era, of course. The choices we have are infinite (or sometimes feel that way), and much of it is very well worth watching in small doses or in binges.
In addition, when you think about it, the streaming services are not all that expensive for what you get for your monthly subscription when compared with typical monthly cable bills.
I won't say how much my household pays for cable TV every month in New York City, but it far exceeds what we would pay if we subscribed to a half-dozen of the top streaming services.
Having said all that, “Mannix” -- a show about a private eye with tousled hair and fists of fury -- represents what I like to think of as “TV” in all its glory.
The majority of TV shows today are simply not made like the shows of the “Mannix” era. Shows today aim higher, you might say.
They deal in “important” subjects, and strive to delve deeper into subjects related to a wide range of human experiences.
The dramas made for the streaming services are arranged in episodes, but in their look and feel, they play more like small-screen cinema than the TV shows of a bygone age.
In the “Mannix” era, TV shows had a straight-ahead, what-you-see-is-what-you-get quality. They gave you very little to really think about, but that was an asset, not a defect.
Moreover, they were designed specifically to accommodate commercial breaks, something that the buzzy, attention-getting scripted shows presented today on pay-cable and the subscription streaming services obviously do not need to do.
“Mannix” was a case in point. Played by Mike Connors (photo above), Joe Mannix was a relentless private investigator in L.A. who got into fights, gun battles and car chases just about every week.
The action sequences were exciting. No story ever went unresolved by the end of each hour. And Mannix always won, no matter how banged up he became.
Watching “Mannix” and other vintage TV shows makes it possible to peer through a window at TV history that still lives on film and videotape.
All that and action too. When it's 2 o'clock in the morning, what more do you want?