Two rather well-known crime dramas, "Jake and the Fatman" and "Cannon" both starred William Conrad as a detective working the streets of Los Angeles solving crimes. In "Cannon", Conrad starred as Frank Cannon, the biggest and most successful detective in the city, who had resigned from the LAPD in order to go into business for himself.
"Jake and the Fatman" saw Conrad as LA District Attorney JL McCabe, who's assisted by private detective Jake Styles (Joe Perry) as the two attempt to solve new cases. While the heavy-set Conrad didn't exactly fit the mold of leading man, the actor's commanding presence was effective on both shows, as he managed to bring both smarts and a forceful front to the characters. Perry offers an excellent supporting performance in "Jake" and he has good chemistry with his older co-star. Interestingly enough, "Babylon 5" creator J. Michael Straczynski served on "Jake" in later seasons as a story editor. Both shows do look considerably dated at this point, but excellent writing and acting do keep the episodes engaging years later.
"Cannon" ran from 1971-1976 on CBS, while "Jake and the Fatman" ran from 1987-1992 on the network.
"Cannon": Season 1/Volume 1 Episodes:
1- 1 14 Sep 71 Salinas Jackpot
- An insurance company hires Cannon to track down the men who robbed a rodeo of $100K.
1- 2 21 Sep 71 Death Chain
- Hired to investigate a bank secretary's murder, Cannon unearths a scheme involving blackmail and robbery.
1- 3 28 Sep 71 Call Unicorn
- When a series of costly truck hijackings leads to murder, Cannon is called in to catch the thieves.
1- 4 5 Oct 71 Country Blues
- When a beloved country singer is killed in a suspicious plane crash, an insurance company hires Cannon to investigate.
1- 5 12 Oct 71 Scream of Silence
- A millionaire's son is targeted for kidnapping and only Cannon can save him.
1- 6 19 Oct 71 Fool's Gold
- Hired to track down an armorer car robber, Cannon is surprised to find that a small town is protecting the thief.
1- 7 26 Oct 71 The Girl in the Electric Coffin
- While his investigator friend dies while searching for a missing girl, Cannon agrees to take over the case.
1- 8 9 Nov 71 Dead Pigeon
- Framed for a murder he didn't commit, a police detective asks Cannon to find the real culprit.
1- 9 16 Nov 71 A Lonely Place to Die
- While investigating a triple homicide, Cannon discovers a syndicate leader may be next.
1-10 23 Nov 71 No Pockets in a Shroud
- An attorney hamper's Cannon's investigation into a case involving an eccentric millionaire and his heir.
1-11 30 Nov 71 Stone Cold Dead
- A missing bicycle may provide the clue Cannon needs to exonerate a Vietnam veteran accused of murder.
Jake and the Fatman: Season 1/Volume 1 Episodes:
1. 1- 1 8701 26 Sep 87 Happy Days Are Here Again
- A Senatorial candidate's secret lover is killed after she threatens to make their affair public.
2. 1- 2 8702A 29 Sep 87 Fatal Attraction (1)
3. 1- 3 8702B 29 Sep 87 Fatal Attraction (2)
-A notorious thief who used to work for a wealthy couple is accused of murdering the husband. McCabe uncovers who's really behind the crime. This is the pilot for the series.
4. 1- 4 8703 6 Oct 87 Laura
- Jake's former partner is murdered and a young gang member is framed.
5. 1- 5 8704 13 Oct 87 The Man That Got Away
- When the new boyfriend of a wealthy lawyer's ex is found dead, she's accused of murder one.
6. 1- 6 8705 20 Oct 87 Love for Sale
- A call girl discovers who's using her to smuggle drugs, but is killed before she can finger the pusher.
7. 1- 7 8706 27 Oct 87 Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
- The police believe a serial killer is behind the murder of homeless men.
8. 1- 8 8707 3 Nov 87 Body and Soul
- The owner of a local electronics store is found murdered and an ex-con is the prime suspect.
9. 1- 9 8708 10 Nov 87 The Man I Love
- Jake takes the case of a recently married woman whose husband may have tried to murder her.
10. 1-10 8709 17 Nov 87 Love Me Or Leave Me
- A man escapes while being transported to prison and tries to get vengeance on McCabe.
11. 1-11 8710 1 Dec 87 Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
- After temporarily blinding a nurse, a killer threatens her life as she awaits an eye operation.
12. 1-12 8711 8 Dec 87 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- A man being investigated for missing alimony payments suddenly turns up dead.
VIDEO: Paramount presents both shows in 1.33:1 full-frame. "Cannon" looked disappointing, even considering the show's age. The series looked noticably hazy and soft, with some minor jitter in the picture. The elements also looked noticably worn, with specks, marks, scratches, hairs and other debris present. Colors looked faded and sometimes appeared slightly muddy.
"Jake and the Fatman" looks somewhat better, although it still also slips under expectations for image quality for a show from the late '80's. The picture has a soft, slightly fuzzy appearance that resembles a video copy. However, while the picture didn't look crisp and detailed, the presentation at least appeared to be in fine shape, with only occasional specks, marks and other wear on the elements used. Colors looked rather flat, but didn't appear as faded as on "Cannon"'s presentation. Still, colors didn't look precise on "Jake" either, appearing slightly soft and smeary.
SOUND: "Cannon" is presented with a mono soundtrack, while "Jake" is presented in stereo. Both titles offer fine audio that's about in-line with expectations. "Cannon"'s audio understandably sounded flatter and thinner, but for a series of its age, audio quality was satisfactory. "Jake" sounded somewhat crisper and cleaner, but audio still seemed mildly flat.
EXTRAS: Surprisingly, neither title has any extras aside from "Cannon"'s episode promos. Both shows - especially "Jake" - certainly had a fanbase, so one would have thought even a retrospective featurette would have been nice.
Final Thoughts: "Jake and the Fatman" and "Cannon" are compelling, well-written shows that share very good performances from William Conrad. Unfortunately, the DVD presentations offer only the first half of the first season of both films, and video quality and lack of extras for both titles is disappointing.