Smoking rarely looks so cool.
AMOS BURKE, SECRET AGENT was a last-ditch effort at saving a hit TV series. It was previously called BURKE'S LAW, and had one of the great way-out TV premises. Gene Barry, who had bounced around Hollywood as a leading man for over a decade in films like WAR OF THE WORLDS and as the title role in the TV series BAT MASTERSON, starred as Amos Burke, the Los Angeles Police Department's Chief of Detectives who also happened to be a dandy millionaire. Riding in the back seat of his chauffeur-driven Rolls, Burke solved one high-society murder after another, usually after questioning a stellar line of guest stars.
After two seasons, however, producer Aaron Spelling tweaked the format somewhat. Goodbye, BURKE'S LAW. Hello, AMOS BURKE, SECRET AGENT. The even-more-ludicrous premise found Burke quitting the LAPD and becoming a U.S. agent, reporting only to The Man (Carl Benton Reid). Each episode still boasted an impressive guest cast, as in the above, "Nightmare in the Sun," which featured gorgeous Barbara Luna, Joan Staley (later in THE GHOST & MR. CHICKEN), Mari Blanchard, Elisha Cook Jr. and Ed Asner as a heavy named Pablo Vasquez. Ah, those were the days.
The new BURKE lasted just one season. Barry, still alive at age 87 (he had a cameo in the Spielberg WAR OF THE WORLDS), went on to other series work, primarily the well-remembered THE NAME OF THE GAME. Surprisingly, CBS brought back BURKE'S LAW in 1994 as a companion piece to the popular DIAGNOSIS: MURDER. 27 episodes aired, though it's unlikely any TV network will again air a one-hour drama with a lead actor in his 70s.