The F.B.I. went on the air in 1965 and ran for nine seasons, finally wrapping in 1974. During those years the whole world was changing and changing fast. It was also an incredible time for law enforcement. These days we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the police apprehended a murderer based on a strand of hair and a clump of dirt from this shoes, but when the FBI was airing, this was high-tech wizardry.
The F.B.I.: The Complete Third Season originally aired during the 1967 / 1968 TV season. The straight-laced, suited men of the F.B.I. were often seen as government stooges who loved nothing more than taking away a person’s rights – speech, assembly. Bearing arms, loitering and singing off key. But Quinn Martin wanted the world to see that the men and women of The F.B.I. were actually hard-working, intelligent protectors of freedom. A hard sell, but he made it work.
If you’ve never watched The F.B.I., it’s quite different than the cops shows of today. It emphasizes character over action. The crimes are solved with a lot of leg work and help from the lab. No grandstanding. No crazy car chases or colorful killers. Some of the stories are so mundane, it’s hard to image a modern crime drama even bothering to tell such a tale. But Quinn Martin had a stellar team of storytellers and actors who were able to turn even the most boring crimes into compelling episodes.
For example, in “False Witness” a young woman is falsely accused of bank robbery. Worried that she won’t be treated fairly, she takes off on a road trip with her boyfriend and almost ends up becoming part of a robbery team for real. Not so exciting? Cast Carol Lynley and Pete Duel as the girl and her boyfriend and that simple story climbs up a dozen notches.
The third season of The F.B.I. is loaded with amazing guest stars including Kevin McCarthy, Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Suzanne Pleshette, Burt Reynolds and two of my favorites Lynda Day George and Bobby Sherman.
Most of the stories revolve around kidnappings, extortion and bank robbery. This season also has quite a few stories of espionage. What you won’t find is an over abundance of murder cases and when murder is involved it’s handled delicately. No graphic violence or morgue dissections in this show. Kind of refreshing.
If you need a lot of blood, tears and sweat in your cop show, better stick with more modern fare. If you’re up for excellent storytelling and super 60’s guest stars, then I recommend you pick up both The FBI: Season 3 Part One and The FBI: Season 3 Part Two. They’re both available now at Amazon (click the links) thanks to the fine folks at Warner Archive.
Here’s a clip: