This show was mainly a tongue-in-cheek 'dramedy'. After all, how realistic is it for a homicide cop to live in Beverly Hills and ride in a Rolls-Royce to work? The show was always good for a laugh and as an escape from reality. A great show for families.
Burke's Law was one of the first shows I really enjoyed watching with my mom. Granted, I was watching reruns in the early 90's on cable, but I loved it. Yes, the plot was always the same- Amos is interrupted by a phone call and has to go off to solve a murder while leaving some poor girl in the lurch, Detective Tilson was always spouting off more information than anyone ever needed to know, and Sgt. Hart was always mildly amused by his millionaire, debonaire boss. So what if it lacked realism? Isn't that the point of watching a television show? Personally, I hope this entire series is released on DVD at some point, because I know several people who will be watching with me!
When people ask my favorite TV show of all-time, I answer, "Burke's Law." I was too young to see this show when it originally aired, but I was introduced to it as a teenager when it aired in between two other favorite TV shows ("Department S" and "The Champions") on an independent TV station. It stood out, not because it was the only U.S. show on the channel on Saturday nights, but because it was rich in comedy and suspense simultaneously.
Each episode title begins with the words "Who Killed..." Nearly every episode also begins with Amos Burke, so deliciously played by Gene Barry, either at a party or romancing a woman. He would get a call that he, as the Captain of the Homicide division, was needed on a murder case. Off he went in his chauffeured car to the crime scene. As the car drives toward the scene we hear the theme music, interrupted by a sensuous whisper of a woman's voice: "It's Burke's law!" How can you NOT love this?
The shows had great suspense, presenting a list of possible suspects in true 60's crime drama fashion. Also, the person who answered the "who killed" question wasn't always the obvious choice (or the least likely choice). However, "Burke's Law" had two other features that made it most unique. First, although the plots centered around murder, the show had more than its fair share of humor. Some episodes were more laugh-out-loud funny than a lot of sitcoms. Secondly, it was the first series to make judicious -- and frequently hilarious -- use of the cameo. In one great example, Edd "Kookie" Byrnes is featured as a tour bus driver in "Who Killed Mr. Colby in Ladies' Lingerie?" He points out a house, saying it's the home of Kirk Douglas (while impersonating him). A woman on the bus says that she had been on the tour the day before and the house in question did NOT belong to Kirk Douglas but Edd Byrnes. "Yeah, sure, lady," Kookie replies, "but I don't DO him!"
The other thing that makes "Burke's Law" worth watching is the recitation of the laws. Amos will make a comment about something then inform his listener, "it's Burke's law." (The show summary has a good list of "Burke's Law"isms included.) He would state his comment and leave, usually leaving others with blank stares on their faces.
This remarkable series needs to be on DVD for new generations to see. It is not only a classic of the 1960s, but one of the greatest shows television ever saw.
this silly show is back on the air - reruns on MeTV - it was originally in the 60s about the same time as Man from Uncle, Get Smart and other shows we liked back when 3 to 5 years was the life of a series before they last so long you got tired of them because they got stale and the episodes quit being enjoyable.
Burke as great because they didn't take theirselves "super cereal" like so many television shows with with outlandish storylines. the concept of a cop being driven to crime scenes in his Rolls is as ridiculous now as it was then but after all the star was Gene Barry and it was simply a modernization of Bat Masterson who was the "Dapper Dan" lawman from the old west he had portrayed for a couple years just before Burke's Law.
There was even a spin-off from this show - Anne Francis was so popular as the female cop 'Honey West' that she got her own series by that name.
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