Thursday, June 21, 2012


LONGSTREET only ran a single season beginning in 1971 but it's memorable for several reasons. For one thing, the seventies were the years of gimmicky TV detectives. James Franciscus as Mike Longstreet was the BLIND detective. In his earlier TV movie pilot it's revealed that his wife is killed in an explosion that takes away his sight. 

Mike doesn't adjust easily to being blind and throughout the series continues to learn, in the process often getting across aspects that viewers might of have thought of on their own. The series was vaguely compared at the time by those of us in the know with Marvel's DAREDEVIL comic with its blind superhero.

Veteran Peter Mark Richman was Longstreet's boss, Marilyn Mason his Braille teacher and Girl Friday. The seeing eye dog--played by numerous German Shepherds--was Pax.

The main reason that LONGSTREET tends to be remembered, however, is Bruce Lee. Executive producer Stirling Silliphant was one of Lee's many Hollywood martial arts students in the wake of THE GREEN HORNET and wrote an episode for Lee entitled THE WAY OF THE INTERCEPTING FIST. Bruce plays a character much like himself and attempts to teach our hero that there's more to martial arts than just fighting. 

He appeared in only a handful of episodes. Around this time, he also took a quick trip to Hong Kong where he made some easy money doing a pair of low-budget films for Producer Raymond Chow. Those films would make him an international star.

My late friend Kip King appeared in one episode of LONGSTREET as an expert on listening, teaching Mike how to detect things from sound.  Kip told me Bruce wasn't working the day he filmed his sole scene so he didn't meet him. I made the screen grab below for Kip a few years ago and he liked it enough to use as his Facebook profile picture which, after his death, remains posted there in tribute. 

After Bruce Lee became popular, with his early death ensuring immortality, his LONGSTREET episodes were endlessly exploited as BRUCE LEE IN LONGSTREET co-starring James Franciscus. 

Originally a TV star on NAKED CITY, MR. NOVAK and THE INVESTIGATORS, Franciscus had a semi-successful career on the big screen in films such as THE VALLEY OF GWANGI and BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES but he proved to be rather bland that large. On TV, though, that translated to thoughtful and, particularly with this role, that suited him well. He later starred in DOC ELLIOT and HUNTER before his death at the young age of only 57 from emphysema. 

1 comment:

  1. wow Longstreet ... that takes me back a long way back.. 40 years in fact!

    I remember this series.. and the Bruce Lee episodes... the beautiful white German Shepherd ... and Marlyn and Peter Mark Richman (in a part played by Bradford Dillman in the pilot for the series).

    James Franciscus went on to make other TV shows... Doc Elliot , Hunter etc... but really nothing came close to Naked City.