20 September 2007 | rcj5365
A Highly Intelligent Series From The Mid-1970's
It was an unusual partnership. Pete Ryan was a former con man and Frank McBride was a retired bunco cop for the Los Angeles Police Department. Together they had formed a private detective agency that specialized in pulling "switches" on the other con man still operating on the wrong side of the law. They would concoct elaborate schemes that would,hopefully,resulting in the swindlers swindling themselves. Based in Los Angeles,the two of them traveled far and wide on assorted cases ranging from con artists to solving crimes and murders within the status of the city. Malcolm,a small time thief and con man who had gone straight and opened a restaurant was recruited by Pete and Frank to help them on cases while Maggie was the firm's combination secretary-receptionist and all-around girl Friday.
"Switch",was one of the brilliant array of shows that was produced by television mogul Glen A. Larson that ran for three seasons on CBS-TV from the premiere episode on September 9,1975 until the series finale on September 3,1978 producing 68 episodes. The cast was perfect here: You have the great Robert Wagner and the great Eddie Albert in the role of their careers as a con man(Wagner)and a bunco cop(Albert)working together as private detectives on the good side of the law. This was a highly intelligent series with some great stories and not to mention some highly intense action and it was one of the great detective/cop shows that came out of the mid-1970's that had psychological perspective to it. "Switch" was a thinking man's detective show and it shows in some of the great writing this show had that came from not only Glen A. Larson but also from Donald P. Bellisario(who would go on to produced excellent shows like "Quantum Leap", "Mangum P.I.","J.A.G.",and "NCIS").
This show also had the great Sharon Gless(long before her stint on "Cagney and Lacey",one of the great cop shows from the 1980's)as the secretary Maggie,and also comedian Charlie Callas as Malcolm. It was Callas who kept the show's rich humor afloat for the three seasons it ran on the air. Before "Switch" came around in 1975,actor Robert Wagner was known to audiences as secret agent/con-man Al Mundy in the espionage series "It Takes A Thief"(ABC,1968-71),also produced by Glen A. Larson. While Eddie Albert was known for dramas and mostly comedies and before this was seen in the classic rural comedy setting as Oliver Douglass opposite Eva Gabor on "Green Acres"(CBS,1965-71). By the middle of the show's second season,the series went through some changes. First up,it when from being more of a con-man's venture into a straightforward and more traditional detective series,with fewer of the elaborate con games. By the end of what was to be the show's third and final season,Pete moved into a new apartment above Malcolm's bouzouki bar,while newcomer Revel(Mindi Miller)was the hostess and Wang (James Hong)was the new cook. In other words,the show was getting into the style of several other detective shows of that period,basically taking a cue from a classic 1950's P.I. show...Who remembers 77 Sunset Strip? When the show premiered in September of 1975,it was on Tuesday nights opposite ABC's The Rookies(produced by Aaron Spelling),and NBC's Police Story(produced by David Gerber). When the show ended in 1978,due to poor ratings,CBS had no decision to find a show that replaced it..."The Incredible Hulk".