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The Magician (American TV series)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Magician
Bill Bixby The Magician 1973.JPG
Bixby as Tony Blake
StarringBill Bixby
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes21
Production
Running time
  • 45 minutes per episode
  • 70 minutes (pilot episode)
Production companiesParamount Television in association with B & B Productions, Inc.
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Release
Original networkNBC
Original releaseMarch 17, 1973 (1973-03-17) –
April 15, 1974 (1974-04-15)

The Magician is an American television series that ran during the 1973–1974 season. It starred Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony "Tony" Blake, a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to solve difficult crimes as needed. In the series pilot, the character was named Anthony Dorian; the name was changed due to a conflict with the name of a real-life stage magician.

Plot

Blake was a professional stage magician who used his skills to solve crimes and help the helpless. Years earlier, Blake had been in prison on a trumped-up espionage charge in an unnamed country in South America. He discovered a way to escape with his cellmate, which began his interest in escapology. The cellmate died and left him a fortune. The escape, apparently followed by exoneration of the false charges that had led to it, led to Blake's pursuit of a career in stage magic, which made him famous. He never forgot his unjust imprisonment, and it motivated him to seek justice for others.

Initially, Blake used his Boeing 720 jetliner (named "The Spirit") as a base of operations; it was outfitted as a mobile residence ("It's like any other mobile home, only faster.") with live-in pilot Jerry Anderson (Jim Watkins). Blake drove a white Chevrolet Corvette with custom license plates ("SPIRIT") and, for its time, an exotic feature: a car phone. Blake frequently received assistance from acerbic columnist Max Pomeroy (Keene Curtis), and Max's brilliant son Dennis (Todd Crespi), who uses a wheelchair. Midway through the program's run, the idea of the airplane was dropped and Blake took up residence in a posh apartment at The Magic Castle, a real club devoted to magic acts in Los Angeles, California. At the same time, the supporting cast of the show was replaced with a new, single character, Dominick (Joseph Sirola), a somewhat comical sidekick. No explanation for the changes was given in the series. Jerry continued to make occasional minor appearances (and Watkins and Curtis retained places in the opening credits) and Tony recruited Jerry and Max together for one further case in the new format. The Magician finished in the Nielsen ratings for the 1973-1974 TV Season with a 16.9 Average Audience. It was rated #52 out of #81 shows for that season.

Some episodes featured Larry Anderson (who later hosted Truth or Consequences and created the JawDroppers video magic course) as Blake's assistant.

Cast

Pilot

Title Directed by Written by Original air date
"The Magician"Marvin J. ChomskyLaurence Heath, Joseph StefanoMarch 17, 1973 (1973-03-17)

Episodes

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"The Manhunters"Sutton RoleyJimmy SangsterOctober 2, 1973 (1973-10-02)
Someone is trying to kill Max Pomeroy (Keene Curtis), Tony Blake's friend. The investigation leads Blake to an alcoholic lady gambler in distress and the plot thickens in a casino. Stephen McNally, Vincent Beck and Marlyn Mason guest star.
2"The Vanishing Lady"Marvin J. ChomskyStephen Kandel
Harold Livingston
October 9, 1973 (1973-10-09)
When Julie Carter (Amanda McBroom), the singer in Tony Blake's Vegas magic act and personal friend, is kidnapped in her dressing room, the magician has to race against time to save her. Ramon Bieri, John Karlen and Peter Brown guest star.
3"Illusion in Terror"Paul KrasnyWalter Brough
Marion Hargrove
October 23, 1973 (1973-10-23)
A car accident sees Tony Blake's girlfriend Joanna (Brenda Benet) taken by ambulance and soon pronounced dead but the body has vanished. Suspecting foul play, Blake investigates Joanna's past and what he finds endangers his own life. Cameron Mitchell, Macdonald Carey and Bill Zuckert guest star.
4"Lightning on a Dry Day"Reza BadiyiWalter BroughOctober 30, 1973 (1973-10-30)
A hospital patient is spooked senseless by the fire in one of Tony's charity magic acts. His investigation into the young man's past leads him to a small town riddled with suspicious residents. Geoffrey Deuel, Mark Hamill, Beah Richards and Neville Brand guest star.
5"Ovation for Murder"Barry CraneWalter BroughNovember 6, 1973 (1973-11-06)
During a backyard party where Tony Blake performs, the magician witnesses a Greek man he rescued earlier shoot another man. Blake suspects he was impaired and arranges an elaborate illusion in a hospital to catch the real killer. Jack Kruschen, Susan Oliver and Walter Brooke guest star.
6"Man on Fire"Reza BadiyiSamuel Roeca
James L. Henderson
Juanita Bartlett
November 20, 1973 (1973-11-20)
While arguing with her boyfriend, a woman falls down stairs and dies. The man is coerced into stuffing her body in a trunk and tossing it in a lake. Tony Blake gets involved when bad guys come after his new magic student, the man's son. Carl Betz, Brad David, Lloyd Bochner and Jane Merrow guest star.
7"Lady in a Trap"Leslie H. MartinsonFrank Telford
Marion Hargrove
November 27, 1973 (1973-11-27)
Out scuba diving, Tony Blake rescues a ditzy assistant library curator he met earlier whose boyfriend tossed her off his yacht with intention to kill. An old copy of The Prince becomes the pivotal point of Blake's investigation. Robert Webber, Kristina Holland and Anthony Eisley guest star.
8"The Man Who Lost Himself"Sutton RoleyMarion HargroveDecember 11, 1973 (1973-12-11)
A man fleeing pursuers crashes into Tony Blake's stage, sending both of them to the hospital. The man wakes up amnesiac and Blake enlists his friends to help the man recover his memory. Joe Flynn, John Milford and Yvonne Craig guest star.
9"Nightmare in Steel"Reza BadiyiWalter Brough
Shimon Wincelberg
December 18, 1973 (1973-12-18)
The husband of Tony Blake's clumsy new assistant has been kidnapped and is being forced to help hijack a tanker. Tony infiltrates the tanker to rescue the man and avert the crime before it's too late. Leif Erickson, Christopher Stone and Anne Randall guest star.
10"Shattered Image"Michael O'HerlihyRichard HesseJanuary 8, 1974 (1974-01-08)
Tony Blake must protect a little girl who is targeted by her father's former mob associates. In the process, Tony attempts to clear the man's name who himself is on the run, framed for murder. Joseph Campanella, Ed Gilbert and Leslie Parrish guest star.
11"The Illusion of the Curious Counterfeit: Part 1"Sutton RoleyLaurence HeathJanuary 14, 1974 (1974-01-14)
Performing at the Magic Castle, Tony notices his ex-girlfriend in the audience, looking distraught. A man behind her is acting strange. Tony invites her onstage and makes her vanish but the bad guy is fast on their trail. Carol Lynley, John Colicos, L.Q. Jones and Lloyd Nolan guest star.
12"The Illusion of the Curious Counterfeit: Part 2"Sutton RoleyLaurence HeathJanuary 21, 1974 (1974-01-21)
When his attempt to free his ex-girlfriend from a cell fails, Tony has a confrontation with her ex-mobster father. Carol Lynley, John Colicos and Barbara Rhoades guest star.
13"The Illusion of the Stainless Steel Lady"Alexander SingerPaul Playdon
Richard Hesse
January 28, 1974 (1974-01-28)
Tony investigates the self-enforced isolation of his old, recluse movie-star friend, Irene Denore (Nina Foch), after an attractive blonde claiming to be her estranged granddaughter asks him for help. Anthony Zerbe, Edward Winter and Mark Lenard guest star.
14"The Illusion of the Queen's Gambit"Don WeisEdward J. LaksoFebruary 4, 1974 (1974-02-04)
Tony is performing onboard the Queen Mary when masked robbers interrupt his act. His friend, Ed Cassidy (William Shatner), is blamed for the robbery and Tony Blake sets out to prove his innocence. Brooke Bundy, Paul Mantee and Katherine Justice guest star.
15"The Illusion of Black Gold"Arnold LavenEdward J. LaksoFebruary 11, 1974 (1974-02-11)
Tony stages an elaborate illusion to fake the death of a political-defector scientist who can extract oil from shale rock, but the scientist is kidnapped and auctioned off to the highest bidder. Eric Braeden, Milton Selzer, Michael Cristofer and Lynda Day George guest star.
16"The Illusion of the Lost Dragon"Alexander SingerHoward BerkFebruary 18, 1974 (1974-02-18)
In order to find a jade dragon which has been stolen from his very old friend in Chinatown, Tony will have to face the threat of a horrible death in a lava pit when the floor is literally taken from under him. Soon-Tek Oh, France Nuyen, Joseph Wiseman and Philip Ahn guest star.
17"The Illusion of the Deadly Conglomerate"David MoessingerDavid Moessinger
Larry Brody
David Chase
February 25, 1974 (1974-02-25)
Tony reconnects with a homeless old magician friend; the shelter where he's landed specializes in murdering the downtrodden for profit and it's up to the magician to rescue him before it's too late. Eugene Roche, Jack Ging, Michele Marsh and William Sylvester guest star.
18"The Illusion of the Fatal Arrow"Leslie H. MartinsonPaul Playdon
David Chase
March 4, 1974 (1974-03-04)
In order to prevent further murders by a hitman who uses a bow and arrow, Tony partners with a psychic who accurately predicted the first victim's death. Jeremy Slate, Pamela Franklin and Tim Matheson guest star.
19"The Illusion of the Lethal Playthings"Jack ArnoldLarry BrodyMarch 18, 1974 (1974-03-18)
Someone is trying to kill a friend of Tony Blake's by detonating bombs and using marionettes and remote controlled toys. Tony's investigation brings him to a toy shop and he becomes the target of the mad man. Scott Hylands, Louis Hayward, Joanna Miles and Simon Scott guest star.
20"The Illusion of the Cat´s Eye"Paul StanleyPaul Playdon
David Chase
A museum enlists Tony Blake's help to investigate the "smoke & mirrors" theft of a highly guarded Egyptian cat statue. Joseph Ruskin, Marianna Hill, John Dehner and Claudette Nevins guest star.
21"The Illusion of the Evil Spikes"Bill BixbyDavid Moessinger
David Chase
April 15, 1974 (1974-04-15)
A magician is killed during the filming of a highly risky magic trick. Blake takes on both the investigation and his friend's place in recreating the Table of Death illusion for the cameras. Jessica Walter, Lew Ayres and Herbert Anderson guest star.

Production

Magic on the program

The show is noteworthy in that Bixby, a keen amateur magician, insisted on performing all of the illusions in person, without any trick photography, although it was not possible for this to be the case in the TV-movie/pilot. Many of the episodes of the regular series were preceded by an announcement that the magic tricks were accomplished without trick photography. He was instructed in these performances by the program's technical advisor, Mark Wilson, who was credited as "magic consultant".[1] Once the format changed to have the hero based in a magic club, Wilson could occasionally be seen on the stage there, as well. In addition to escapes, Bixby performed feats of sleight of hand, mentalism, and stage illusions. After the series' cancellation, Bixby went on to host a string of magic specials on NBC and a series, The Wonderful World of Magic, in first-run syndication.

Home media

Visual Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 on August 25, 2017.[2][3][4]

Influence

Though it ran only a single season, The Magician was an influence on later series. The show was a favorite of The X-Files creator Chris Carter, who worked it into Special Agent Fox Mulder's "origin" story: a teenaged Mulder was waiting to watch The Magician when his sister Samantha was abducted by mysterious forces.[5]

In the Quantum Leap episode "The Great Spontini", Scott Bakula's character, Dr. Sam Beckett, leaps into an amateur magician in 1974 who aspires to appear on Bill Bixby's The Magician; however, owing to his partial amnesia, Dr. Beckett, at first, can only recall Bixby's connection with The Incredible Hulk, which had not been made at that time.

The Incredible Hulk series featured an episode that paid homage to both The Magician and Bixby's earlier series, My Favorite Martian. In The Incredible Hulk's "My Favorite Magician" episode, Bixby's character became the temporary apprentice to a stage magician played by Bixby's Martian co-star, Ray Walston. Mark Wilson was on hand again as the episode's "magic consultant" as well. In addition, Martian co-star Pamela Britton appeared in an episode of The Magician.

Actor Andrew Robinson has stated that his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character, Elim Garak, was partially influenced by Bixby's character.

External links

References

  1. ^ Hano, Arnold (Jan 1978). "The Magical World of Greg Wilson". Boys' Life. Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-12-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ The Magician - The TV Series
  4. ^ The Magician - DVDs for 'The TV Series' Starring Bill Bixby...VERY SOON! Appearing magicially at last, in just a matter of weeks, from VEI Archived 2017-08-05 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (August 1, 2015). The X-Files FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week (FAQ Series). Milwaukee, WI: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1480369740. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
This page was last edited on 1 July 2021, at 04:07
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