Roy Huggins was one of the great TV producers: Cheyenne, Colt 45, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Kraft Suspense Theater, and Run For Your Life. And Huggins created "The Fugitive". Huggins helped create the TV private eye genre with "77 Sunset Strip", the first hour private detective show.
"The Outsider" seemed like it might have been inspired by the Paul Newman private eye thriller "Harper". Darren McGavin had already played Mike Hammer on TV so he might not have been the freshest casting for PI David Ross. Jack Lord claimed he was offered this series first, and he probably was. Other actors that might have been interesting were Stuart Whitman, Bradford Dillman, Robert Lansing, Vic Morrow, Rick Jason, Jack Palance, Peter Falk, George Maharis or Clint Walker. But Darren McGavin was one of the great series leads, and he played the role to perfection.
Ross was not the typical high living, intellectual, humanist private eye. Ross had not graduated from high school. He drove a beat up car. He worked out of a cheap apartment where the phone was mysteriously in the refrigerator. He had served time in jail. In the pilot, cop Ossie Davis wound up solving the crime before Ross. David Ross wasn't even his real name. Ross handled tawdry cases like divorce. This was a fine, innovative for its time private eye show.
The only thing I really didn't like was the awful canned background music supplied by Pete Ruggolo. The show also seemed kind of low budget compared to "Hawaii 5-O" and Quinn Martin productions. Production values were low. There was too much use of cheesy Universal sets and not enough location shooting.
But these are minor quibbles. "The Outsider" got the big things right: a great series lead, interesting stories, and an original take on the private eye format. The pilot movie directed by Michael Ritchie was excellent. Roy Huggins and Steven Cannell dusted off this concept a half decade later and came up with "The Rockford Files."