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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Shag Undercover

I know, it looks like a MAD parody, doesn't it? I've posted here before about the woes NBC faced in the late 1970's, putting shows on the air like QUARK, A MAN CALLED SLOANE, SUPERTRAIN and other notable bombs that left the network a perennial third-placer. But this show was dead meat right from the opening titles. After all, how could anyone take seriously a tough crime drama called...DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER?

You can't really blame executive producer David Gerber for trying it. After all, the show was a spinoff of an episode of the acclaimed anthology series POLICE STORY, aired May 28, 1978. In "A Chance to Live", David Cassidy, the former PARTRIDGE FAMILY front man, guest-starred as a youthful cop who went undercover in a Los Angeles high school to ferret out drug dealers. The episode received a high Nielsen rating, and Cassidy was nominated for an Emmy. So, what the heck, why not have Cassidy bust bad guys every week?

Well, what the hell, DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER? Reportedly, the titles UNDERCOVER and MAN UNDERCOVER were already taken or under copyright or some such rot. It seems as though there are a million other titles better than the one Gerber and NBC chose to go with, but...

DC--MU premiered on NBC in the fall of '78, but not to overwhelmingly optimistic ratings. Cassidy reprised his POLICE STORY role as undercover detective Dan Shay with the great Simon Oakland (KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER) as his police boss and Wendy Rastatter as his wife. It was unusual then and now for a leading man in a cop show to have a happy married home life.

Best I can remember, the plots were standard '70s cop fare, chasing arsonists, bank robbers, drug lords and bikers. WGN-TV reran some episodes around 1990. Unfortunately, I recorded them (and episodes of the equally shortlived RIKER with Josh Taylor) on a Beta machine, and the VCR and tapes are long gone. Cassidy, of course, co-wrote and recorded the theme song, which was never released on vinyl or CD.

Check out this totally bogus publicity still of Cassidy and co-star Oakland. Posed? Ya think?

Since my memories of the series are fuzzy, I relied on, believe it or not, a DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER Web site for some information. So if you don't believe me that this show actually existed (I wouldn't), check it out for yourself.

Posted by Marty at 11:08 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (5) | Permalink

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 3:18 PM CDT

Name: Kool Mo P

McKee, I need a Walker Texas Ranger: Trail by Fire review STAT.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 8:47 AM CDT

Name: Ken Begg
Home Page:

Damn you, Marty, I have a review in the works with a David Cassidy Man Undercover joke in it, and now you've stolen my Hopelessly Obscure Reference thunder.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 9:26 AM CDT

Name: Marty McKee

Do it! Only about 12 people read this thing anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 2:36 AM CDT

Name: Cynthia
Home Page:

Hey, I liked that show!!! Big Cassidy fan (David or Shaun!) The worst part was believing David as a high school student - he was obviously like thirty when he made the show. College, I might have bought it but. . .

On the other hand - it was a good attempt for David to play a dramatic role, something he did quite a bit of before Partridge Family fame (Guest starring on Marcus Welby, etc.) . It was sort of a single guy Jump Street and I'll defend it to the end. Stupid title - but a great suffering angst show!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 7:46 AM CDT

Name: Marty McKee

I remember Cassidy doing a MEDICAL CENTER, but I think that's the only other time outside of MAN UNDERCOVER I ever saw him act in a dramatic series.

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