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The D.A. is a short-lived Americanmarker half-hour legal drama that aired on NBC as part of its lineup for the 1971-72 season. It ran from September 17, 1971 to January 7, 1972 and was packaged by Jack Webb's Mark VII Limited for Universal Television. This show is not to be confused with a show Webb produced in 1959 with a similar name, The D.A.'s Man, which starred John Compton in the lead role.


The D.A. starred Robert Conrad as Deputy District Attorney Paul Ryan, a tough-minded, hard-hitting prosecutor in Los Angeles County who was assisted by criminal investigator Bob Ramirez (Ned Romero). He prosecuted all types of cases under the watchful eye of his supervisor, Chief Deputy District Attorney H. M. "Staff" Stafford (Harry Morgan, who directed at least one episode himself). His opponent was usually Public Defender Katherine Benson (Julie Cobb). During the courtroom segments Ryan also provided a voice-over narration (like Dragnet), which brought the audience in on legal jargon and court procedures and allowed there to be less exposition in the dialogue, which was necessary due to the program's brevity, as most legal dramas have episodes twice the length of that of The D.A..

This program, however, is probably less known for its own storylines than for its lack of station clearances. Several NBC affiliates refused to air the program (mainly because it ran against ABC's successful Brady Bunch), choosing instead to take the time period for themselves (usually filling it with syndicated programs). Because of the station defections, NBC cancelled The D.A. in mid-season and replaced it with the eventually highly successful Sanford and Son.

Robert Forward produced the show, which was spun off from two TV-movies produced by Webb's production company, Mark VII Ltd., Murder One from 1969 and Conspiracy to Kill from 1971, both of which fictionalized cases prosecuted by Vincent Bugliosi, world-famous as the prosecutor of Charles Manson. Bugliosi served as technical advisor on both of the pilot films. In his account of the Manson prosecution, Helter Skelter, Bugliosi stated that Conrad modeled the Ryan character on Bugliosi.

A two-part cross-over episode began on another Webb show, Adam-12, in which officers Malloy (Martin Milner) and Reed (Kent McCord) made an arrest. In the follow-up episode from The D.A., Ryan handled the eventual prosecution. Co-star Morgan also accompanied Webb's Joe Friday character on the 1967-70 version of Dragnet as Officer Bill Gannon; during the next two seasons, he appeared on Mark VII's Hec Ramsey.

In 1990, producer Dick Wolf dusted off the half-investigation, half-trial format of The D.A. and modified it for his hour-long detective drama Law & Order by eliminating the narration but utilizing instead a Dragnet-style dialog between characters. The D.A. was not the first broadcast network series to use the format: Arrest and Trial's 90-minute episodes predate The D.A. by eight years.

Episode list

Episode # Episode Title Airdate
1 "The People vs. Drake" September 17, 1971
2 "The People vs. Hendry" September 24, 1971
3 "The People vs. Gayda" October 1, 1971
4 "The People vs. Saydo" October 8, 1971
5 "The People vs. Edwards" October 15, 1971
6 "The People vs. Slovik" October 22, 1971
7 "The People vs. Lindsey" November 5, 1971
8 "The People vs. Barrington" November 12, 1971
9 "The People vs. Swammerdam" November 19, 1971
10 "The People vs. Fowler" November 26, 1971
11 "The People vs. Howard" December 3, 1971
12 "The People vs. Nelson" December 10, 1971
13 "The People vs. Whitehead" December 17, 1971
14 "The People vs. Walsh" December 24, 1971
15 "The People vs. Boley" January 7, 1972


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