Long before Bones or any of the CSI clones, Jack Klugman starred as crime fighting pathologist Dr Quincy, a Medical Examiner from the Los Angeles State Health Department. Quincy ME began life as part of NBC's 'Murder/Mystery Season' of movies in the early 1970's before becoming a regular series. This season of made for TV movies also incidentally spawned several other well-known detective shows such as Columbo, Macmillan and Wife, and McCloud.
Quincy's episodes followed a familiar format, usually consisting of the man himself performing an autopsy and spotting something which suggests foul play. However this wasn't to say that the show was predictable. Jack Klugman portrayed the chief coroner with gusto and enthusiasm and this made the fiery Medical Examiner a very colourful character indeed. He would leave no stone unturned in fighting for someone he felt was innocent (usually against seemingly impossible odds!) and would relish confronting figures of authority.
Quincy's lab assistant was Sam Fujiyama (Robert Ito) who was also a totally dedicated, trustworthy friend. His boss was Dr Asten (John S Ragin) who for the most part was at loggerheads with. Despite their regular professional confrontations both were best of buddies.
Our main man would also work closely with the Police Homicide Department, Detective Inspector Monahan and Sgt Brill. Genuine humor played an important part in this series and there was always good banter between the regular principle cast members.
Some of the best ever episodes include 'Mirror Image,' 'Stain of Guilt,' and 'The Deadly Arena.' In the latter, our hero has a race against time to try to solve a contamination in the water supply, which has already resulted in two deaths. His investigation leads him to a sports arena where later that day a football game will be played in front of 90,000 spectators, all of whom are potentially at risk! A classic.
Unfortunately towards the end of its run, the show became little more than a vehicle for good causes and raising public awareness on issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence, cancer treatment and so on. Whilst this was all very well, it didn't make entertaining TV. Quincy became a 'do-gooder' and the series itself took an overdose of sentimentality. Quincy was at his very best when ranting and raving, trying to solve murder cases or battling against red tape and bureaucracy.
Most episodes would end up at the local restaurant 'Danny's' to share a joke with his work pals, usually at his own expense. One of the biggest mysteries of the programme though was how Quincy at 50-plus managed to lure so many beautiful young women back to his moored yacht. The man was quite simply an unlikely babe magnet. However, this would eventually come to an end as the coroner finally got hitched in a two-part special at the series finale. He even sold his boat!
Despite the subject matter, not so much as a drop of blood was ever seen throughout its long run. Producers at that time felt that, as it was to go out at teatime, it might just put audiences off their meal and thus ratings would suffer.
Jack Klugman is said to be delighted with the continued popularity of the series and also the constant fan mail he receives. He currently lives in California.