Blacke's Magic is the creation from masters of mystery, Richard Levinson and William Link and stars Hal Linden (previously of Barney Miller
) , and Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter of MASH
) as a father and son detective team in the Crazy Like A Fox tradition.
Linden plays retired magician Alexander Blacke. Harry Morgan plays Blacke's finagling con-man father Leonard Blacke. "He's a feisty old rascal who has made his mark on the carnival circuit" says Morgan, adding jokingly "though only about half as feisty as Robert Blake!" (star of Baretta and Hell Town, and an old acquaintance of Morgan's from their days as stock players on the 1963 Richard Boone Show
Episodes in this thirteen part series feature equally mystifying plots for the duo to solve, and — as with other Levinson and Link series such as Columbo
and Ellery Queen
— the emphasis is less on whodunnit as how they "dunnit". Although Linden performs some magic tricks (without trick photography supervised by technical advisor Jim Steinmeyer, who has worked with Doug Henning), the series' plots are concerned more with puzzling, "impossible" disappearances and other spooky situations, story ideas more closely resembling the George Peppard series Banacek
of the early 70's rather than the Bill Bixby series The Magician
, which on the surface had a similar premise to this show.
Recaps1x1: Breathing Room recap
: The scenario of "Blacke's Magic," the whodunit movie, begins at the bottom of a Beverly Hills hotel swimming pool. At the bottom of said pool lies an airtight coffin containing 'Nick The Great Gasparini,' a man who claims he can remain submerged for five hours "with only a one hour supply of oxygen and live to tell about it." Linden plays Alexander Blacke, a magician who tires of life on the road and hangs up his top hat, only to find doing nothing a drag. His father, Leonard (Morgan), realized that long ago. A self-styled con man, he occupies himself running minor scams.
When Gasparini is murdered under circumstances that mystify the police, Alexander is called upon as a consultant. He enjoys the work enough to make it a permanent hobby, with his irrepressible father drumming up business whenever things get slow.
The poolside and television audiences await the outcome of this feat. The casket containing The Great Gasparini is hoisted onto the pool deck and is opened to reveal a corpse with a bullet wound in its chest, making it a seemingly impossible crime to solve for conventional law enforcement officials. To the rescue comes Alexander Blacke, world famous illusionist and innovative crime stopper. Blacke is played by Hal Linden, familiar to television viewers as the title character in "Barney Miller," the long running television comedy. Alexander Blacke enlists the aid of his wisecracking father, Leonard, in solving unusual cases. Leonard is portrayed by Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Sherman T. Potter in the hit series "M*A*S*H." Gasparini, it seems, was shot to death while locked in a coffin that was underwater in a swimming pool in plain sight of everyone as part of a magic feat, Blacke finally determines that the doctor who opened the coffin at the end of the trick shot him with a silenced gun hidden in his instrument bag.
"Blacke's Magic" premiered as a two hour movie on Sunday January 5, 1986, and became a weekly series beginning Wednesday January 8... read more.