Martin Kane, Private Eye debuted September 1949 and aired until June 1954. The show was filmed live and seen on NBC Thursday nights at 10 PM.
The title character saw several different players through the seasons. William Gargan initially played Kane and was succeeded by Lloyd Nolan, Lee Tracy and Mark Stevens. Occasionally, a well known stage or screen star made an appearance. In one episode, Una O'Connor played a deranged spinster wielding a carving knife.
Another regular character on the show was Walter Kinsella, the proprietor of a tobacco shop. The show's sponsor was a tobacco company and Kinsella's tobacco shop was used by the sponsor to sell its product. Kane dropped in to buy the sponsor's tobacco products and to discuss their merits with the shop's proprietor. Other smoking males strolled in to look for tobacco or a smoke with less nicotine and more flavor. Kane's moment in the shop was a break from his arduous life as a private eye and a moment to enjoy a bit of male banter and buddyship.
The show was produced at a time when television was in its infancy. By today's standards, the players tend to overact in a way that indicates their unfamiliarity with performing before television cameras. Episode plots are the usual detective fodder -- femme fatales, fortune tellers, foreigners, and old dark houses.
Martin Kane, Private Eye is a relic of sorts from television's earliest years. Its interest lies in its historical charm as a fledgling television drama and in its production value primitiveness.
Selected episodes are available on DVD.