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Diagnosis Murder is a mystery/medical/crime drama television series starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son, a homicide detective played by his real-life son Barry Van Dyke. The series began as a spin-off of Jake and the Fatman (Dr. Mark Sloan made his first appearance in episode 4.19 "It Never Entered My Mind"), became a series of three TV movies, and then a weekly television series that debuted on CBS on October 29, 1993. The series struggled at first and was almost canceled at the end of the second season; after returning as a midseason replacement (with several casting changes) for a third season, the series became successful and was regularly renewed thereafter. 178 episodes were made and aired in the show's eight seasons on the CBS network in the United Statesmarker and two more TV movies aired after the series' cancellation on May 11, 2001.

In the Jake and the Fatman episode, Dr. Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons. Ally Walker played Dr. Amanda Bentley, a role that went to Cynthia Gibb in the TV movies and, finally, to Victoria Rowell in the TV series. Stephen Caffrey played Dr. Jack Stewart in the movies, a role that went to Scott Baio in the weekly series.

The first three TV movies were shot in Vancouver, B.C.marker The first two seasons of the series were shot in Denver, COmarker and all the subsequent seasons in Los Angeles.


The plot centered around Dr. Mark Sloan (played by Dick Van Dyke), a renowned physician who occasionally worked for the local police department as a consultant, and who could not resist a good mystery or a friend in need. Those cases often involved his son, Detective Steve Sloan (played by Barry Van Dyke). Helping him were his best friend Norman Briggs (played by Michael Tucci), a hospital administrator who double-crosses the entire hospital, always wanting to talk Mark into something, when things don't go his way. His colleagues, medical examiner/pathologist Dr. Amanda Bentley (played by Victoria Rowell), a young medical partner who works in the pathology department, specializing in dead bodies, who was also involved with Mark's and Steve's, about the patient's time of death, and Dr. Jack Stewart (played by Scott Baio), another young partner, very handsome, who did a double for Dr. Sloan, who later left and was replaced by a new resident, Dr. Jesse Travis (played by Charlie Schlatter).


  • Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke), Chief of Internal Medicine at Community General Hospital, and protagonist of the series. Son of a cop and father of another, in whose cases he often got involved. He is medical consultant to the LAPD. Dick Van Dyke was considered for the lead role after the positive reviews he received from his dramatic role in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy (although the character he played in the movie was villainous and very different from the role of Mark Sloan). In the pilot the character had interests in tap dance and clarinet playing; however, these were considered distracting and were toned down and eventually removed from the character as the series developed.
  • Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan (Barry Van Dyke), a police detective (later lieutenant) in the Robbery/Homicide Division of the LAPD and Dr. Mark Sloan's son. After an earthquake destroyed his apartment, he lived in a separate apartment in his father's beach house in Malibumarker.
  • Dr. Amanda Bentley (played in the three original TV Movies by Cynthia Gibb, and then by Victoria Rowell). The character's surname was later changed to Bentley-Livingston. She's the resident Pathologist at Community General Hospital and assistant County Medical Examiner, who is also Dr. Mark Sloan's straight and his young medical partner. As a favorable character of the show, she also dated Jack and was later Jesse's best friend. During the series, she married a military man, and had a son named C.J. Depending on the episode, she divorced him or he was killed in a plane crash. Later in the series, she adopted another boy, Deon.
  • Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio, 1993-1995, seasons 1-2), a womanizer whose rakishness and boyish charm coupled with his penchant for drop-kicks are often utilized by Mark Sloan, whom he idolizes, seeing him as somewhat of the father figure he never had growing up on the tough streets of Bensonhurst. He left to open his own practice in Coloradomarker.
  • Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter, 1995-2001, seasons 3-8), a handsome resident at Community General Hospital who Mark took under his wing. He often got involved in Mark and Steve's cases, with good intentions but not always good results. He also opened a BBQ restaurant with Steve Sloan.
  • Norman Briggs (Michael Tucci, 1993-1997, seasons 1-4), administrator at Community General Hospital and a close friend of Dr. Mark Sloan, even though he is often exasperated by him.
  • Nurse Delores Mitchell (Delores Hall, 1993-1995, seasons 1-2), Dr. Sloan's secretary.


One unusual aspect of the series was that it frequently appropriated characters from various classic television series. Over the run of the show, various episodes guest starred at least eight different members of the Van Dyke family:
  • Dick Van Dyke and son Barry Van Dyke in the lead roles.
  • Dick's brother, Jerry Van Dyke.
  • One of Dick's daughters, Stacy Van Dyke.
  • Barry's children: Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, Wes Van Dyke, and Taryn Van Dyke.
  • Rob Petrie (Van Dyke himself from the Dick Van Dyke Show) features in a cameo in one episode where Dr. Sloan is in a radio station, and walks past a studio where (through a bit of CGI magic), Rob is (failing at) being a radio DJ!

Smaller recurring roles

  • Joanna Cassidy (Season 7) plays Madison Wesley, a doctor friend of Mark Sloan, and Dean of Community General's Medical School. She is in 8 episodes.
  • Kim Little (Season 6) plays Susan Hillard, Jesse's long time girlfriend, for 11 episodes.
  • Susan Gibney (Seasons 5-7) plays Detective Tanis Archer, Steve's partner in more than 7 episodes.
  • Charmin Lee (Seasons 7-8) is Steve's second partner Cheryl, who is in 7 episodes between seasons 7 and 8.
  • Martin Kove (Seasons 6-7) is Captain Newman, for 5 episodes.
  • Shane Van Dyke (Seasons 4-8) is Alex Smith, the third year medical student, who appears in 13 episodes across seasons 7 and 8. He is also seen as Shane Marshall in "Blood Brothers Murder", Jake Hallman in "Down and Dirty Dead" and finally as Tommy Anders in "Never Say Die" only a few months before his recurring role as Alex Smith started.
  • Carey Van Dyke (Seasons 4-8) plays various characters: Mr. Kelso, Terry Marshall, Kyle Lewis, Brendan Kelly, Carl Simpson, and Craig Wilson (in "The Blair Nurse Project" which was also written by Carey).
  • Kevin McNally (Seasons 3-8) as the ubiquitous EMT in 19 episodes.
  • Tim Conway plays Tim Conrad, an old friend of Mark's. Also a comedian in more than 4 episodes.
  • Harry J. Lennix (Seasons 5-6) stars Agent Ron Wagner, in 6 episodes.
  • Wes Van Dyke and Taryn Van Dyke (Seasons 6-8) both acted in "Never Say Die", "Frontier Dad" and "The Blair Nurse Project" playing brother and sister in all episodes (they are the younger siblings of Carey and Shane and children of Barry Van Dyke).

Notable guest stars


Diagnosis: Murder had a total of eight seasons and 178 episodes which were broadcast on CBS between 1993 and 2001.


Community General Hospital

Community General Hospital is the main set for the show. It is six to seven floors depending on the episode. It holds about 400 beds, with three trauma rooms, two psych wards, and one Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Mark Sloan is Chief of Internal Medicine. The Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills, Californiamarker was used as the exterior of Community General Hospital in the final three seasons of the show (it was also used as a casino in the pilot for CSI). Here you will see Mark's office (two different offices were used between the earlier seasons and the later seasons), the coroner's office and the nurses' station as the main areas of the hospital seen - but you will see patient's rooms, treatment rooms in the ER and occasionally an OR.

BBQ Bob's

BBQ Bob's is a restaurant that Jesse Travis and Steve Sloan co-own starting in the sixth season. Mark Sloan is also a silent partner. It is located in a small strip mall very close to Community General Hospital. Other stores around it include a jewelery store, travel agency and a bank. It is often frequented by the hospital staff as an alternative to the hospital cafe. All staff members get discounts. The exterior of BBQ Bob's was based on a storefront at the Whizin's Center in Agoura, California, where exterior scenes of BBQ Bobs were occasionally filmed.

Malibu Beach House

Mark Sloan's house is often featured in Diagnosis Murder from the beginning of Season 3. This is a place where the group meets for lunch, have small parties and also to discuss the latest case. The address given in episodes is 3231 Beach Drive, Malibu. The house is at first only lived in by Mark but late on Steve appears to have moved in. The house is often used as a safe haven for long-term friends as well as victims/witnesses who Mark and Steve see fit to protect. Mark moved here during Diagnosis Murder time from 6464 E. Colorado Drive, Los Angeles despite Mark suggesting in "Murder by Remote" that the Sloan Family moved to the beach house when Steve and his sister Carol were children.

TV movies

Diagnosis Murder had five TV movies between 1992 and 2002, three of which aired prior to the TV series.

  • A Town Without Pity, the fourth TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, February 6, 2002 on CBS.

  • Without Warning, the fifth and final TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, April 26, 2002 on CBS.


Between 2003 and 2007, there have been eight original novels published based on the TV series. All of them were written by Lee Goldberg, a former executive producer and writer on the TV series. According to his website, there will be no more books based on the show. The books are, in order:
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Silent Partner
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Death Merchant
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Shooting Script
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Waking Nightmare
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Double Life
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Last Word
The book The Past Tense is a prequel to the Diagnosis Murder episode Voices Carry, which guest-starred Jack Klugman as Harry Trumble, and chronicles Dr. Mark Sloan's first homicide investigation. The final book in the series, The Last Word, is a sequel of sorts to the episodes Obsession and Resurrection and features the return of Carter Sweeney, who was played by Arye Gross in the TV series. The character of Lt. Ben Kealoha in The Death Merchant reappears in the Monk novel [Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii], which was also written by Goldberg.

Spin Offs

There have been three episodes filmed as a possible spin off for Diagnosis: Murder, the first 2 were shown in season 5, the first being "A Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste" which was an unsold pilot for a spin-off with no name currently known and the two part episode "Retribution" which was for a spin-off called The Chief and would have starred Fred Dryer in the title role. Neither was picked up by the network.

In 1999 the 21st episode of season 6, the episode titled "Blood Ties", was filmed as a pilot episode for a spin off series that would have starred Kathy Evison as Detective Amy Devlin and Zoe McLellan as Detective Taylor Lucas. The show, which would have been called Whistlers, was also not picked up by the network.


In the United Statesmarker, the popular show aired in reruns on ABC Family (formerly The Family Channel) and was a long-time staple on PAX Network, later ION Television. Later, Diagnosis: Murder aired on Sundays on the Hallmark Channel, but has since been removed and is not seen in re-runs in the United Statesmarker as of 2009. In the United Kingdommarker, the show airs weekdays on BBC One, the Hallmark Channel and Alibi and in Australia on weekdays on Foxtel's TV1 channel. The show was produced by Viacom Productions and is currently distributed by CBS Television Distribution, the syndication arm of CBS Paramount Television. It is also seen in the following countries, under different languages:

DVD releases

On September 12, 2006, CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) released the complete Season 1 of Diagnosis: Murder on Region 1 DVD. The set included the Jake and the Fatman episode 4.19, "It Never Entered My Mind," which introduced the character of Dr. Mark Sloan. It did not however, include the TV movies that were made prior to the show's premiere. Seasons 2 and 3 are also now available. After two years since the release of the first season on Region 1 DVD, a Region 2 DVD of Diagnosis: Murder - Series 1 was released on May 5 2008, according to The first two seasons have been released in Australia on Region 4 DVD by CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount).

DVD Cover Art DVD Release Episodes Originally aired Release date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 19 1993-1994 September 12, 2006 May 5, 2008 May 15, 2008
The Complete Second Season 22 1994-1995 June 12, 2007 February 9, 2009 November 6, 2008
The Complete Third Season 18 1995-1996 December 4, 2007 July 13, 2009 TBC
The Complete Fourth Season 26 1996-1997 TBC TBC TBC

See also


  1. Diagnosis Murder Novels - News
  3. listing for Retribution Part 1
  4. - Diagnosis: Murder - Series 1 (Region 2 DVD)

External links

TV movies

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