14 February 2001 | blanche-2
ahead of its time
Ellery Queen, written and produced by the same people who brought us "Murder, She Wrote" nine years later, was ahead of its time with its 1940s atmosphere and mystery plots, older casting and older guest stars. By the time the mid-'80s came around, the demographics had changed enough to make "Murder, She Wrote" a breakout hit -- but in the '70s, that audience wasn't there yet. It's a shame because Ellery Queen was a superior show in every way to the Angela Lansbury series. Hutton and Wayne were perfect as Ellery and the Inspector. John Hillerman, in the beginning episodes, was a radio detective and was preferable to the later budinsky, a newspaper man played by Ken Swofford. The pilot for this series, guest-starring Ray Milland, was one of the best ever made, complete with a radio show that had makeshift sound effects. Guest stars in the series included Tab Hunter, Signe Hasso, Howard Duff, Ida Lupino, Susan Sarandon, Anne Francis, Donald O'Connor, many others. A pity it wasn't a hit - though, done any later, Hutton would not have been alive to play Queen, a role that fit him like a glove.