Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bat Masterson and Amos Burke

Actor Gene Barry passed away earlier this month at the age of 90. His geek cred comes mostly from his role as Dr. Clayton Forrester in the 1953 movie version of The War of the Worlds. But he also starred in a couple of classic TV shows--in each case playing a sophisticated, intelligent protagonist quite capable of either out-fighting or out-thinking his opponents. It was the sort of role that Barry really excelled at and, in both shows, his performance was combined with strong scripts to produce that rarest of things--sincerely entertaining television.

From 1958 to 1961, he starred as Bat Masterson, giving us a completely fictional but nonetheless really cool version of the real-life gunfighter.

From 1963 to 1966, he starred in Burke's Law as Amos Burke, a homicide detective who also happened to be a millionaire. He works solving crimes pretty much because he just loves doing it. For two seasons, it was successful as a well-constructed whodunit with an interesting and unusual lead character. Unfortunately, the last season was marred by an ill-considered attempt to cash in on the James Bond films by making Amos Burke an international spy. It turns out that millionaires need to stick to solving crimes, not sneaking out of Rumania with stolen microfilm hidden in their hollowed-out heels.

I took note in this THIS POST of a Bat Masterson episode that shared a plot device with an Uncle Scrooge story.

In this episode of Bat, see if you can spot the slight similarity between a plan concocted by Bat to foil some river pirates AND a plan concoted by a certain Hobbit to help some friends escape from prison.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Yes, Gene Barry was an outstanding actor. You're right about Barry playing sophisticated and intelligent men on both Bat Masterson and Amos Burke (and later on The Name of the Game, which I have yet to see but hear great things about). But what if Barry went bad? It hadda happen--I just saw Barry play the baddie in the very first Columbo movie from 1967--Prescription: Murder. He was excellent, of course, though it sure was unsettling to see him play a villain. He will be missed, though by no means absent from my TV screen now that all three seasons of Bat Masterson are out on DVD (and on my shelf).


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