Found-Again Friday: Jake And The Fatman

Why Found-Again? Philosophically, because I was around this show a lot when I was younger, even if I never paid it much attention beyond “Why is that guy from Riptide on the TV again?” Practically, because I am starting to run out of DVDs to put on my Netflix queue—I tried adding Shogun first, but believe me, this is better. Or at least faster…which is better.

The Premise: Jake (Joe Penny) is a cop; he works with District Attorney J.L. McCabe, the titular Fatman (William Conrad). Jake has an awesome (if waaaaay too ’80s) apartment; McCabe has an office full of antique weapons—did someone say swords??—and an adorable bulldog named Max. Together they solve crimes…although how they do that is somewhat less than clear; like Columbo, Jake seems to intuitively know who the bad guys are.

Admittedly, I’m only partway through Volume 2 of the Season 1 DVDs (and I’d like to have a word with some manufacturers about these numbering systems, but not before I exact vengeance for the lack of a “Play All” option. Don’t get me started on the sadist who designed the Remington Steele DVD menu. But I digress.), but rewatching has proved interesting. I remembered this as a “cop show,” but I find my favorite parts of Jake and the Fatman inevitably involve McCabe cross-examining the heck out of hapless witnesses. Much more of this and I’m going to be driven to a McCoy-era Law & Order marathon. The guests stars are also pretty good, including Jeffrey “Re-Animator” Combs, and there are enough regulars on the show that we get a little insight into the main characters’ relationships with people in the office.

The Verdict: I feel like I’ve written up enough of these to offer a ranking, so here we go: I’d put it above Hart to Hart unless you’re looking for sheer whimsy, and it ranks around Simon & Simon without having a theme song that makes you want to rip your own ears off. Solid, but no Magnum, P.I.

Might go well with: Whatever it is, you should be hanging out with your pets when you eat it.

Next time: More polar adventuring with the Quest family.

J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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