Barnaby Jones - Crime Drama TV Series of the Seventies

Barnaby Jones Title  

CBS Series produced by Quinn Martin



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Barnaby Jones - The Series

The crime drama/ detective series Barnaby Jones consists of 171 episodes (60-min., including one two-part episode) and three feature length specials; in all 8 seasons, running from 1973 to 1980. The series has no pilot film as originally Buddy Ebsen was to play a guest role on the detective series Cannon, also produced by Quinn Martin. The episode was intended to lead to a possible spin-off. But when CBS needed a stopgap Fred Silverman, in charge of programming, decided for a new series "Barnaby Jones" with William Conrad (Frank Cannon) appearing there as a special guest star in the first episode. In the States the series went down well with the audience and the series lasted for eight years (in comparison: Cannon ran for five years). Several times the series was among the 25 top rated prime time telecasts of a year /season.


Originally Barnaby Jones was an expert in forensics with the special fields: forensic chemistry, clinical psychology, forensic medicine, toxicology and criminology. He delivered courses of lectures at colleges and worked successfully as a private investigator. Then he retired to raise horses on his ranch in Sun Valley, leaving the concerted Los Angeles-based detective agency to his son Hal. However the murder of his son four years later induced him to solve a case again, to come out of retirement and to resume work together with his daughter-in-law Betty as his assistant and secretary.
Being a forensic chemist he has got a special home laboratory room at his office where clues can be ananalyzed and possible bits of evidence are evaluated. Often it is there he finds a solution. Even the search for tracks and fingerprints at the site of a crime poses no problem for Barnaby.

The Characters:

Barnaby JonesBetty Jones
Barnaby Jones represents the new image in detectives: an older man with a quaint country charm and trigger wit. He is an amiable old codger, whose keen analytical mind is often masked by a homespun exterior. He calls himself kind of a "long looker and a slow thinker". Thus guilty parties are drawn into a false sense of security.
Barnaby solves crimes with a calm, folksy demeanor. He treats people with respect and has always words of consolation left for the victims. Besides solving missing person cases and doubted "deadly accidents", he also takes on investigations for the California Meridian Insurance Company. He pursues the criminals by car, on foot or if necessary even on horseback. His gun is sure-hitting. He often resorts to a ruse. In his spare time he likes to go fishing. His favourite drink is milk.
Betty Jones is the widow of Hal Jones and thus Barnaby's daughter-in- law. In the investigative agency she takes on the role of the secretary ("I only type and answer the phone"). She assists Barnaby in the lab and with shadowing, and she helps him discussing and solving the cases. To get a chance to leave the office she frequently brings Barnaby files to his current 'operational area'. Sometimes she makes inquiries on her own. In doing so she is efficient and not the type of 'helpless woman', but often she proceeds a bit foolhardy.

Barnaby Jones Cast

J.R. Jones Lt. John Biddle
Jedediah Romano (J.R.) Jones brings some youthful carefreeness to the series. He is the son of Barnaby's cousin Monroe from Chicago. After solving the murder of his father together with Barnaby he joins the family firm in the fifth season. Besides his work at the investigative agency J.R. reads for the bar to become a lawyer. Dressed casually and always short of cash J.R. seems to be just the opposite of Barnaby. But he is also charming, witty and reliable. Sometimes J.R. takes care of special assignments. Lt. John Biddle works at Los Angeles Police Department homicide squad. He joins the series during mid-second season. He is often able to supply Barnaby with important information from police files or results of inquiries. On the other hand he also likes to accept hints from Barnaby. Often Biddle is astonished when Barnaby already appears at the site of a crime shortly before him. Also Biddle sometimes disagrees with Barnaby about the culprit or the solution of a case

Cast / Regular Performers:

Barnaby JonesBuddy Ebsen
Betty Jones Lee Meriwether
J.R. Jones Mark Shera
Lt. Biddle John Carter

Veteran Hollywood actor Buddy Ebsen started his career as a dancer on Broadway and took part in musical films of the thirties. In the fifties he became famous as Davy's pal George Russel in Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett"-films. He played many guest roles on TV and in several movies, for instance as Doc Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". He achieved his greatest success as head of the family "Jed Clampett" in the US-TV comedy series "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962-1971). Other series are "Barnaby Jones" (1973-1980) and "Matt Houston" (third season: 1984-85).

The attractive former Miss America Lee Meriwether appeared in TV series such as "The Time Tunnel", "F.B.I" and "Mission Impossible" (in the sixties). Moreover she played "Catwoman" in the "Batman" movie (1966). In the eighties she played Lily in "The Munsters Today" and in the mid-nineties she appeared in the TV soap opera "All My Children".

Mark Shera took part in the TV series "S.W.A.T." .

The Music:

The title theme for the series was composed by famous Hollywood composer Jerry Goldsmith who created the music for movies such as "Planet of the Apes", "The Omen", "Coma", "Alien", "Star Trek", and TV title tunes for "The Man From UNCLE" and "The Waltons".

Guest Stars:

Bill Bixby ("The Incredible Hulk"), Eric Braeden ("The Young and the Restless"), William Conrad ("Cannon"), Tyne Daly ("Cagney und Lacey"), Susan Dey ("L.A.Law"), Robert Foxworth ("Falcon Crest"), Anthony Geary ("General Hospital"), Clu Gulager, Larry Hagman ("Dallas"), Gary Lockwood, Ida Lupino, Roddy McDowall, Leslie Nielsen ("The Naked Gun"), Stefanie Powers ("Hart to Hart"), William Shatner ("Star Trek"), Mark Singer ("V"), Madeleine Stowe, Peter Strauss ("Rich Man, Poor Man"), Barry Sullivan, Joan Van Ark ("Knots Landing"), and many others more.

Barnaby Jones

Barnaby Jones proves that a private detective doesn't always have to be an ex-police detective, an ex-con or a writing amateur sleuth. He doesn't wear a trechcoat unless it rains and he doesn't have financial difficulties (as his clients usually pay). He doesn't always do the dirty work and he doesn't beat up the criminals. He is a full professional with a scientific background and many years of experience. He solves many interesting cases with brains, analytics and knowledge of human nature and also handles routine tasks for an insurance company. In every pocket he has got small plastic bags to gather clues. Locks are no obstacles for him. In his home laboratory the microscope is his most important working tool. But he also carries out many chemical detection reactions by himself. And besides he has a special kind of humor.

Barnaby Jones in lab

Barnaby's Best Phrases:

"I can eat anything as long as I can wash it down with a glass of cold milk." / Nancy: "A man of your age, Mr. Jones? You're a new kind of private eye." Barnaby: "It's a nice way of saying I'm an old kind of private eye. Besides to me old age has always seemed to be 15 years older than I am." / "Betty, the answers are just as tough, but the questions are getting better all the time." / "I don't like coincidences." / "Believing everything you see is nearly as badly as having to see everything you believe." / "And in my business questions are like peanuts, you can't stop with one or two." / "I have lost something." "What?" "My temper." / "Dead people don't leave fingerprints." / "At this moment I'm not looking for the needle in the haystack, I'm looking for a haystack." / "That boy is as loose with his purse-strings as a nimbus cloud is with rain." / While trying in vain to repair a microscope: Barnaby: "I have just reached the limits of my conceit." / "It looks like we have an epidemic of accidents." /


More information on the series Barnaby Jones can be found in the following books:
David Martindale: Television Detective Shows of the 1970s. Credits, Storylines and Episode Guides for 109 Series. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, 1991.
Ric Meyers: TV Detectives. A. S. Barnes & Company, Cranbury, New Jersey.
Ric Meyers: Murder on the Air, Television's Great Mystery Series. The Mysterious Press, New York, London, Tokyo, Sweden, 1989.
Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh: The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-present. Ballantine Books, New York (e.g. 5th edition 1992).
Geoff Tibballs: The Boxtree Encyclopedia of TV Detectives. Boxtree Limited, London, 1992.

US airdates for the episodes:
Larry James Gianakos: Television Drama Series Programming, A Comprehensive Chronicle, 1959-1975. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, N.J. & London, 1978 and Larry James Gianakos: Television Drama Series Programming, A Comprehensive Chronicle, 1975-1980. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, N.J. & London, 1981.

Barnaby Jones Episode Guide:

Title and Airdate Listing Top Home
Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4
Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 Season 8

This guide may be distributed and copied freely for personal use and it may be posted to any 'free' site, but only in its entirety with all original author and copyright information remaining intact. Not for sale in any way. Text 1999 - 2002 by R. Boehme. Last update July 2002.


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