Adventures on Prime Time: The Television Programs of Stephen J. Cannell

By Robert J. Thompson | Go to book overview

those Cannell would present in the next phase of his career, beginning with The A-Team.)

His company was getting large and his television by necessity much less personal. With the enormous success of his next series, The A-Team, Cannell had a major hit on his hands, and "Stephen J. Cannell" came to mean one of the hottest studies in town, not a single individual. All three TV networks, cable outlets, and feature film distributors began to clamor for Cannell's product. The effects this would have on his programs would be significant.


NOTES
1.
With the appearance of Wiseguy in 1987, Cannell began to work in the serialized format.
2.
Interview with the author, Evanston, IL, and Hollywood, CA June 24, 1986.
3.
Ibid.
4.
The storyteller/crime fighter had always been a pet theme of Levinson and Link as well. Their most recent series of this nature, Murder, She Wrote, is a prime example.
5.
This was a familiar popular theme. A theatrical feature written by Roderick Taylor , The Star Chamber, has many of the same story elements. It would be released four years later.
6.
Jeff Silverman, "Mr. Write", US, February 24, 1986, p. 53.
7.
Cannell's secretary's name did, in fact, appear in Stone. While preparing the series, Cannell was also developing ideas for his own fledgling production company, which at the time consisted only of Cannell himself and his secretary, whom he had brought over from Universal, Grace Curcio. A Superior Court judge on the pilot of Stone was named Grace Kersio. Of course, writers undoubtedly play games like this all the time in writing their scripts, but it is interesting that "quality" shows like St. Elsewhere received considerable critical acclaim for playing self-conscious games just like the ones Cannell is engaged in here. (In one example, St. Elsewhere's Dr. Erlich learns from his adopted parents that his real name is Bernard Oseransky, which was also the name of the show's executive in charge of production.) 8. View "Roundtable: Stephen J. Cannell", 6, no. 4 ( March 1985): 48.
9.
Cannell's affectionately growled "gritticisms" like "bag of spit," "sack of muscle," and "dirt bag" appeared on Stone a full year before the character of Mick Belker would become famous for using a similar idiom on Hill Street Blues. This is yet another case of MTM getting critical acclaim for doing what Cannell had already done but in a less ostentatiously "artistic" contest.
10.
Interview with the author.
11.
Ibid.
12.
"Roundtable", p. 48.
13.
"The Millionaire's Life", March 16, 1980.
14.
In Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-Present, 3rd ed. ( New York: Ballantine Books, 1985), p. 333.
15.
Bill O'Hallaren, "Hey, Katt, When Are You Going to Learn to Fly That Suit", TV Guide, July 24, 1982, p. 28.
16.
"Roundtable", p. 48.
17.
Interview with the author.

-106-

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