Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Crazy Like a Fox -- Like Father, Unlike Son

Jack Warden (L) and John Rubinstein (R)
Crazy Like a Fox ran on CBS from 1984 to 1986, and it typifies the by-the-numbers, "programmer" style of TV we saw too much of in decades past. That said, it's not without its charms. Near as I can figure, the pitch went something like this: Crusty old school P.I. Harry Fox (multiple Oscar and Emmy nom Jack Warden) teams up with his wiener of a lawyer son Harrison (John Rubinstein) and they have wacky hijinks every week as they solve crimes. That's pretty much it. Hey, it was the '80s, when you could get an entire series out of "William Shatner as a cop." Presumably, the combination of logline-plus-star were enough to not only get the show greenlit, but also make it a decent-sized hit -- at least initially.

Like so many other "gimmick" detective shows before it, Crazy Like a Fox found a comfortable berth on CBS, where it joined the lineup on Sunday nights and actually did pretty well as the lead-out from Angela Lansbury starrer Murder, She Wrote (which itself premiered only a few months earlier). In fact, it would likely have lasted and lasted and lasted a la Murder, She Wrote had it not gotten bounced from its slot for its second year, whereupon it caromed around the schedule leading to inevitable cancellation in May '86, after only thirty-five eps. 

Weirdly enough, the Eye brought the show back in April of 1987, less than a year after it was shuttered, for a TV reunion movie entitled, appropriately enough, Still Crazy Like a Fox. I can't remember another example of a series going from cancellation to reunion movie as quickly as this one, and I wonder what the rationale behind the move was, but there you go. Like so many other pieces of '80s arcana, Crazy Like a Fox is pretty much dustbinned in the collective memory today, and my own recollections would be even less than fuzzy were it not for very vivid memories of the bouncy theme song composed by Arthur Rubinstein (no relation to series star John). I have no idea why, but it still puts a smile on my face:

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