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  • A tall, mop-haired, drawling hoofer in musicals of the thirties, a respected stage star/playwright in the forties, Fess Parker's grizzled sidekick in "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier", in the fifties, and the rustic patriarch of "The Beverly Hillbillies" in the sixties...Each decade introduced a new, successful direction in the career of multi-talented 'Renaissance Man', Buddy Ebsen (1908-2003). The seventies would be no exception, as then 65-year old Ebsen would bring his wisdom, sense of justice, and undeniable charm to one of the decade's most popular, if formulaic detective shows, Quinn Martin Productions' "Barnaby Jones" (1973-1980).

    As a retired cop, the murder of his son, a successful private investigator, would bring the elder Jones back, not only to solve the crime, but to continue his son's business, aided by his daughter-in-law, Betty (the beautiful Lee Meriwether, 38). Barnaby was a prickly old codger, more care-worn and serious than Ebsen's 'Jed Clampett', and each episode would focus more on the perpetrators of the crimes he would ultimately solve, than on his personal life, which would give the program an almost "Columbo"-like slant. There was nearly always an 'innocent' to save, and many episodes would climax in shootouts and foot chases, where the ancient Jones would always 'run down' the younger criminals (making the series a favorite target of contemporary humorists).

    The addition of young cousin Jedediah Romano ("Call me J.R.") Jones, in the person of 27-year old Mark Shera, in 1976, while geared to attract younger viewers, actually improved the series, as it lightened the overall 'tone', and gave Ebsen a 'student' to give 'Yoda-like' advice to. Together, Barnaby, Betty, and J.R. made quite a team!

    While the series would air it's final episode in 1980, and Ebsen would move on to great success as a painter and author over the next two decades, he would revive the detective in his final film appearance, in the big screen version of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, in 1993. Barnaby Jones, as prickly as ever, would still be taking cases at 85!
  • This is one of my all time favorite private eye shows. Barnaby Jones was probably the last person you would think of as a private investigator, but he mixed good old fashioned detective work with all the then modern techniques (just check out the lab in his office). Lee Meriwether was perfectly cast as his daughter-in-law/secretary Betty and after a few years they brought in the muscle in the form of Barnaby's cousin J.R.(don't call me Jedidiah) Jones. Too bad they don't show reruns of this show anymore. It was an all time classic.
  • I remember watching this show as a kid and finding it immensely enjoyable. I watched it in reruns during summer afternoons (cue nostalgic music), though I can't recall the exact years that I caught it. Probably the early 80s. I was young enough where the formulaic nature of the show that has been mentioned in other reviews here didn't taint the show in any way for me. I didn't watch the show religiously and it has been a long time since I saw any episodes, but the thing that sticks with me about it is the casual, laid-back atmosphere, the cast's charm-particularly Buddy Ebsen's-and, yes, Barnaby regularly running down much younger men on foot. Of course, my memory could be playing tricks on me. I just watched a movie, "Coach", with Cathy Lee Crosby, that I had watched in the late 70s and found enormously erotic, and I couldn't believe how tame and unerotic (with the exception of one kiss) it was, proving that you can't go home again. If this series is ever released on DVD, I'll probably buy it, hoping that maybe this time I will be able to go home again. My fear is that, having seen so many TV shows and movies since then, the formulaic nature of the show will be more apparent to me, which could make the show get tiresome in a hurry.
  • Although the physical constraints of age limited the action somewhat in Barnaby Jones, this senior citizen had none of his mental faculties impaired when on a case.

    In a pilot that was an episode of the Cannon TV series, Frank Cannon is hired to investigate the death of Hal Jones a colleague. Hal had taken over the detective agency from father Barnaby who decided to retire as senior citizens are wont to do. But his fires are banked with the homicide of his son and Buddy Ebsen and daughter-in-law Lee Meriwether take over the agency with her as Ebsen's secretary. Thus a successful television series was born.

    Ebsen was a cagey old bird who a lot of bad guys thought was past his prime. They'd always trip themselves up because they thought he was not really paying attention to what they said. The Medicare set loved Barnaby Jones.

    But TV is always after that youth market and after a few seasons Mark Shera was added to the cast as J.R. Jones, a nephew gone into the business with the uncle. Now the rough stuff could be dealt with in house if needed.

    Buddy Ebsen as a performer reinvented himself more than Madonna. Over his 95 year life we saw him as musical dancing performer, Georgie Russell companion to Davy Crockett, Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies, Barnaby Jones, and finally Roy Houston uncle of Matt Houston. And there are a lot more single roles than that, films like Attack and Breakfast At Tiffany's which was a different Ebsen all together from the rest. Was this man ever versatile.

    An inspiration to senior citizens everywhere.
  • During the seasons this Quinn Martin production was popular, my late father used to say that it was hard to believe that the same man who played Barnaby Jones had once played Jed Clampett. To be sure, for many years Buddy Ebsen had been an outstanding, versatile actor. Just the opening music allowed the viewing public to notice this: "Beverly Hillbillies" started off with light, banjo-playing music, followed by the singing of Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs, whereas Barnaby Jones started off with "cold", "rough", and serious music by Jerry Goldsmith. While Barnaby Jones was, again, "a good ole' boy", even if he was in his middle 60's in 1973, he was a sophisticated man, having studied chemistry and clinical psychology,(again, unlike Jed Clampett.) Simultaneously, he was good at his job, so much so that even the most sophisticated of criminals were, in one sense of the phrase, in awe of him. He also occasionally portrayed the fact that the widower was quite a lady's man: in one episode the first season, it was agreeably surprising to see him and Kathy Crosby (ca.forty years his junior) ride away together in his new Ford. Along with him, Mark Shera (Barnaby's cousin Jedediah Romana, or J.R.) was a welcome addition, but my favorite icon was Lee Meriwether, who played his daughter-in-law Betty; that beautiful lady was still that way ca. twenty years after being chosen Miss America in 1955. Also, as a minister, (though I wasn't that in the 70's) I liked it that the show was wholesome in a decade when wholesomeness was gradually deteriorating. Though he wasn't a suave Mannix, a mean-but-kind bouncer Cannon, (though the late 60's man could handle himself well when necessary) he was one who was capable of putting pieces together and, thus, of solving the crime. Because of the show's wholesomeness, the complicated nature of the plots, as well as the other reasons, it was a show I virtually never missed, all the way from 1973 to 1980. A great T.V. series
  • An excellent 1970s detective show with a heart. Lee Meriwether is superb as the supportive Betty Jones. As the series progressed Betty was allowed out of the office and into the fray. Mark Shera as Jedidah Jones was an unnecessary attempt to attract younger viewers. Barnaby could always handle any young punk that he came across without any help.
  • tashaffer14 January 2017
    I know it's not profound TV, but I enjoyed the early murder plots of the show and Barnaby's way of making remarks that rattled the perpetrators (like a watered-down Columbo sometimes). I just bought Season One in DVD, and I enjoy seeing many big-name actors appearing and looking them up to see whether they're still alive and/or working. I will probably not purchase seasons beyond four or five, because, unlike some reviewers, I was disgruntled with the arrival of Barnaby's nephew, whose presence made the stories more contrived. I was annoyed when the later programs presented cases in which Secretary Betty was involved -- both contrived and unrealistic. The one-man show did it for me.
  • DKosty12321 September 2007
    Buddy Epson & Lee Merriwether- very good acting & put together with Quinn Martin another winning combo. Actually, this show was CBS payback to Buddy who was extremely upset with CBS for canceling the Beverly Hillbillies while they were still a hit show. He kind of felt like he lost his family there & felt the execs at the network were a little nuts.

    Buddy was right about that. This show is well done & CBS had raided ABC to get Quinn Martin to do this & Cannon. CBS wanted to change it's country image & these shows became a moderately successful way to do that. Trouble is CBS execs wasted more of the number 1 networks success & by the 1908's after they forced Walter Cronkrite to retire & dumbed down & tarted up their news with Dan Rather, they had pretty much become a second rated network.

    This show's success along with MASH & a few others kept them on top through the 1970's. Buddy Ebsen was so talented that he could play almost anybody & make them believable. He comes off here as a fine detective & Lee Merriwether came into her own during this show.

    Ebsen is one of the few TV actors to be part of successful shows in the 1950's, 60's, & 70's. It is a fitting tribute to such a unique talent who made his first splash in movies in the 1930's. He has an enduring legacy and this show is the last piece of it.
  • Another one of Quinn Martin's great 70's TV series, as a previous user said this show did come of as unintentionally funny at times due to the advanced age of the always entertaining Buddy Ebsen! I remember there would always be a scene in almost every episode where Mr Ebsen would stiffly run after someone. I kept thinking as a little kid that Buddy Ebsen looked soooo Skinny and frail that a puff of air could knock him down! Yet despite all of this, the show held our viewing interest for six seasons, perhaps we were drawn to the subliminal message that milk is good for your bones because it was obviously helping Barnaby Jones not to snap like a matchstick!
  • Standard Quinn Martin series.

    Buddy has class, dignity, manners, and is polite, and that really is enjoyable to watch.

    Merriweather, is humble and a good supporting character.

    Shera is alright.

    I have watched the first five seasons, and besides the terrible DVD quality, every single episode, except a few, is about the same, and 95% are about murder:

    Crime happens.

    Jones visits with the person who hired him.

    Immediately, he knows who commited the crime and visits with her or him.

    They lie through their teeth.

    He investigates, and proves them wrong.

    Most times, he plugs the crook, but ALWAYS just wings them.

    This is like the Lone Ranger, always tried only to injure.

    Epilogue. Some little happy saying, then the credits.

    Betty, almost always acts like she can't figure out how Barnaby, deduced something, which makes him look better.

    Each season has about two excellent episodes.

    But the main reason to watch is for Ebsen.
  • This show always made me chuckle. Every show had the same plot. Barnaby runs down the kidnappers with his 3 ton Ford LTD, gets shot at, ducks, and kills the kidnappers with a single shot. Then Barnaby frees the young blonde woman tied up in a barn.

    The opening of the show was good too. And the always showed who plays the guest characters. Many 70's shows always had a title to the particular show. (Streets of San Fransico) That's one thing, which is missing about todays shows. Many shows today, don't even a have an opening or a list of credits. One must look up a show in the imdb to see who the actors are. Of course nothing can top the opening of "Hawaii Five-O", that was the best part of that show.
  • I always have enjoyed Barnaby Jones. I was so happy to see the entire series on DVD. Sadly wih the exception of the First Season and a few other episodes, the syndication cuts were released. Still, it was well worth buying. Buddy Ebsen is even better on this show than The Beverly Hillbillies. He is always calm and in control and loves a glass of milk. Lee Meriwether playing his daughter in law is also a delight. She plays her part so well, she acts just like a regular person would working for a master detective. She asks questions like you or me when she does not understand something about the case. I always enjoyed that part of it. Starting with Season 5, they added Mark Shera as his distant cousin JR Jones. He fit in perfectly. From the first episode he appeared, it was like he was always part of the show. Quinn Martin had a talent of making a lot of great shows in the 60's and 70's, but I think this show and The F.B.I. were my favorites. They were also his longest running shows. I also enjoy seeing all the great actors from the past and future that show up on this show. They don't make good, decent show like this anymore. That is one reason I only watch old tv shows and old movies. They are entertaining without being vulgar or offensive or political like all the tv shows are today.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    My sister and I would watch Barnaby Jones religiously as children on Tuesdays or Friday nights. My sister thought Jedediah was cute! As the younger brother, I would ask a thousand questions. Why? What is this? How did that happened? Which would annoy her. Barnaby Jones was riveting t v! There was a murder, a frame up, a robbery, someone goes missing, and the client asks for help. The wise, old and crafty Barnaby Jones is on the case. Like Matlock has insight, experience and 3 D thinking about all the intangibles of the case. Jedediah, the slick lookster Italian American was doing the inside work, a janitor etc, while the woman, I forgot her name, sometimes on the show would do both inside job or outside research, and Barnaby would set the trap, or get proof, and or someone would try and get him, and or have an accident with Jedediah! Usually a count down with the climax which made for riveting T V. Barnaby Jones was memorable T V.
  • Quinn Martin was a very busy man in the 1960's and 70's. He had his name on many shows. Most of them were at least halfway decent shows. Barnaby Jones is an exception. This show is just not that great of a show. Some of the stories are downright silly. The situations are not believable,the acting is often uninspired,and many of the cases seem to solve themselves. Most of the show episodes are boring. How this lasted 8 seasons I will never know, particularly when a much-better QM detective show "Dan August" with Burt Reynolds did not even last a full season. Sure,there are a few decent Barnaby Jones episodes,but it is not worth wading through all the mediocre episodes to find them. You can find much better detective shows I promise.
  • I enjoyed Buddy Epsen in this series. He's far removed from J.D. Clampett, and does a superb job of acting with good stories. Sadly, Epsen basically checked out after Season 6. Neither Mark Shera nor Lee Meriwether can carry a show on their own (or even together). Seasons 1-6 are highly recommended !
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I became a huge Barnaby Jones fan in the last couple of years. I purchased the entire series on DVD. Sadly, apart from the first season and a few other episodes, the syndication cuts of the show were released. With that said, the DVD set was well worth it. From the first episode, I was hooked. There were so many strong episodes in the first season. Buddy Ebsen is the main reason to watch this show. He bring a wonderful laid back style with charm and humor as he solves the cases. And his favorite drink is Milk! I loved that part of it. Lee Meriwether plays his daughter in law, Betty. Her husband is killed in the series premiere. He was also a detective. This is what get Barnaby back from retirement. As the series progressed, Betty's roled increased. Buddy and Lee had great chemistry from the start. Lee stated that she loved Buddy and mentioned what a wonderful person he was and how he treated the crew with respect and kindness. By season 5, Barnaby's relative J.R. Jones(Mark Shera) is added to the cast. He fits in perfectly to the show and adds a little youth to the show. By season 7 & 8, Betty and J.R. were allowed to carry certain episodes. Buddy Ebsen had the idea to let them be more a part of the show. The show lasted 8 wonderful years and it will remain one of the best shows to be on tv. I have no interest in tv shows today. They just don't hold my interest and some of them are offensive, crude or political. No need for that stuff to tell a great story and be entertaining.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    OK, I'll admit I am only slightly familiar with Barnaby Jones, but thats a good thing! I watched this series vary sparingly as a pre teen and for me to remember much of it would mean I led a really dull childhood. I gather it was there to appeal to the seniors, Lord knows why I would watch it. I guess I'd watch any Quinn Martin production at that time (Cannon I do remember, that fat guy would blast away!). I was a BIG Beverly Hillbillies fan so I guess thats why I would watch ol Barnaby in action. Some thoughts, Barnaby was up there in the years so I don't remember a whole lot of fist a cuffs, or long running chases, I don't even remember him shooting anyone (but he may have), I think one look of him pointing a gun at you would make you think him saying "look Mister, I've got one foot in the grave anyway, I'll take you down with me if you make a move". But good ol Barnaby was always cool to think about when he'd be looking for that information at a bar, he'd always order a glass of milk, OH BROTHER! THATS CLASSIC, LOL. Buddy your one of the best!

    UPDATE! 2014. CBS released this show on DVD so I got a chance to catch up with Buddy and I realized at least one thing. This show had long legs because if you look at it when it originally aired in the 1970's, CBS ran this show at 10 pm on Sundays it's first few seasons then 10pm on Thursday nights the rest of it's run. IT WAS AN EXCELLENT SLEEPING AID! Seriously, I watched the pilot first episode with Frank Cannon (who is another hoot, the guy never misses with a snub nose .38 no matter how far away he is), and even with Frank involved this show is a serious snoozer! Then I watched the next episode from season 1 with William Shatner as the bad guy and I drew this conclusion. Barnaby got the stupid murderers with high expectations but little thought process involved. Besides being boring, this show has lame stupid villains. More power to it's long run but I'm pretty sure it was old people tuning in that felt comfortable watching Buddy while they fell asleep after 10pm with the TV on. That milk thing was probably something subliminal to put the viewer to sleep. Seriously. 4 of 10, it's so boring that the retro stuff doesn't even work here, try Cannon, Mannix, Hawaii 5 0, Hill Street Blues, Kojak, Streets Of San Francisco, Ironside, Berretta, Columbo, Starsky and Hutch, I mean any of those shows blow away watching Barnaby Jones. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
  • The series had some good plot lines especially in the mid-series seasons...In the early series, before the addition of the JR character, Betty was always portrayed as a resourceful and physically capable of taking care of herself. Unfortunately, a season after JR showed up Betty seemed to suffer an inexplicable drop in her IQ level especially with the ability to assess the seriousness of the situation. She also seemed to cry more in desperation...Wonder why QM productions decided to take the damsel in distress route for Betty.
  • I don't remember "Barnaby Jones" being no more than a very bland, standard detective show in which, as per any Quinn Martin show, Act I was the murder, Act II was the lead character figuring out the murder, Act III was the plot twist (another character murdered), Act IV was the resolution and the Epilogue was Betty (Lee Meriwether) asking her father-in-law Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen) how he figured out the crime and then someone saying something witty at the end of the show.

    One thing I do remember was the late, great composer Jerry Goldsmith's excellent theme song. Strangely, the opening credit sequence made me want to see the show off and on for the seven seasons the show was on the air. I will also admit that it was nice to see Ebsen in a role other than Jed Clampett despite Ebsen being badly miscast. I just wished the show was more entertaining than when I first remembered it.

    Update (1/11/2009): I watched an interview with composer Jerry Goldsmith on YouTube through their Archive of American Television channel. Let's just say that I was more kind than Goldsmith about the show "Barnaby Jones."
  • A milk drinkin', clean livin' elderly man wants to avenge his son's death so he beomes a private dick. This show was humorous. A man older than 70 trying to apprehend evil younger men ? A bit of suspension of reality required for watching this piece of claptrap from Quinn Martin. Watching Barnaby chasing crooks is good for a laugh.