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Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as father and daughter-in-law, who are also both private investigators in Los Angelesmarker, which ran on CBS from January 28, 1973 to April 3, 1980, as a midseason replacement, which bumped the long-running detective series Mannix to air, one hour before this one.

The Barnaby Jones character was introduced in the third-season Cannon episode "Requiem for a Son" in 1973. The two-part episode "The Deadly Conspiracy" (1975) began on Cannon and concluded on Barnaby Jones.


After Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen) had worked as a private eye for many years, he decided to retire and left the business to his son Hal. When Hal was murdered working on a case, Barnaby came out of retirement to find the killer. His widowed daughter-in-law, Betty Jones (Lee Meriwether) joined forces with him to solve the case. The two decided that they worked so well together that they would continue to keep the detective agency open. Jones was unusual, ordering milk in restaurants and bars, counter to the stereotypical hard drinking detective.[62395]

Until the cancellation of the series Cannon, the characters of both series moved back and forth between the two shows.

In 1976, the character of J. R., the son(Mark Shera) of Barnaby's cousin, joined the cast. He had come to try to solve the murder of his father, but stayed around to help Barnaby and Betty while also attending law school.

During the first year of the series, a common theme would be where Jones would make an astute observation or collect a sample, such as mud on a car's tire. The criminal, in some cases, called his accomplice and had a conversation along the lines of "there's a Mr. Jones and he's asking a lot of questions," after which the criminal was assured that he (Jones) would be "taken care of" (killed). In view of the advanced age of Jones, he could not win a fistfight but used other means, such as slamming a door on the hand of a criminal carrying a gun, after which the episode concluded.

Among the guest stars who appeared over the years were Conlan Carter and Gary Lockwood, who appeared together in the third episode of the series entitled "Sunday: Doomsday" on February 25, 1973. Other guests, just in the first year alone, included the following:

Stefanie Powers, Wayne Rogers, William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Richard Anderson, Claude Akins, Carl Betz, Meredith Baxter Birney, Bill Bixby (Meriwether's real-life ex-classmate), Jack Cassidy, Geraldine Brooks, Richard Bull, Dabney Coleman, Jackie Coogan, Glenn Corbett, Cathy Lee Crosby, Meg Foster, Anne Francis, Lynda Day George, Richard Hatch, James Hong, Claudia Jennings, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis , Ida Lupino, Roddy McDowell, George Maharis, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Walter.

In later seasons, guest stars included Wayne Maunder, formerly on CBS's Lancer western series, and Ron Hayes, who played Sheriff Oscar Hamlin in the episode "Target for a Wedding".

Toward the latter part of the series, as Ebsen aged and expressed an interest in slowing down a bit, Meriwether and Shera's characters became more prominent, allowing Ebsen to reduce his role; during the last two seasons, the episodes were divided evenly among the three actors, with Ebsen, Meriwether and Shera each being the focus of a third of the season's episodes.

According to Jonathan Etter's 2003 book Quinn Martin, Producer, the show was cancelled in 1980 due to low ratings among young viewers (much of the series' fanbase consisted of senior citizens), plus Ebsen had finally had enough of playing the role. After the series' cancellation, the show was seen less in reruns, notably during the 1990s as part of the WWOR EMI Service.

During the mid 1990s, Meriwether and Shera expressed interest in a Barnaby Jones reunion TV movie, but could not talk Ebsen into joining the project. However, in 1993, Ebsen reprised the role of Barnaby Jones in the big-screen remake of his most famous TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies. It would be his final theatrical appearance.

In the Adult Swim show Frisky Dingo, the main character Xander Crews goes by the pseudonym Barnaby Jones in episodes 7-11 of season 1.

Other notable guest stars

During its second seven-season-run, more familiar actors have made guest appearances, and others who were newcomers have gone on to become well-known, among them appearing in Barnaby Jones episodes: Morgan Fairchild, Don Johnson, David Hedison, Sean Penn, Don Keefer, Vera Miles, Carl Weathers, Robert Webber, Joan Van Ark, Larry Hagman, Mark Goddard, Shelley Fabares, Susan Dey, Daniel J. Travanti, James Woods, Tommy Lee Jones, Patrick O'Neal and Ed Flanders, among many others.

Buddy Ebsen's real-life daughter, Bonnie Ebsen, made a cameo appearance in one episode, along with Lee Meriwether's real-life daughter, Kyle Aletter-Oldham, made a cameo appearance in one episode. Future Trapper John M.D. stars, Pernell Roberts, Gregory Harrison and Charles Siebert all made guest appearances on one episode. Future WKRP in Cincinnati stars, Loni Anderson and Gary Sandy made guest appearances as well.

DVD Releases

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS DVD have announced that the 1st season of Barnaby Jones will be released on DVD on February 16, 2010. [62396]

DVD Name Ep# Region 1
Season 1 13 February 16, 2010
Season 2 24 TBA
Season 3 24 TBA
Season 4 24 TBA
Season 5 24 TBA
Season 6 22 TBA
Season 7 25 TBA
Season 8 22 TBA

See also


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