Hollywood glamour, big name guest stars, slick patter and a murder every week - it’s Burke’s Law!
When TV Century 21 launched in January 1965 it was quite obviously a vehicle for comic strip adaptations of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation puppet shows. But as at that point it only covered Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray along with pre- Thunderbird Lady Penelope stories it needed some additional strips. The Daleks on the back cover fitted nicely into the science fiction bias of the comic, as did the comedic ‘My Favourite Martian’ strip with the mischievous alien, Uncle Martin.
But one strip seemed to me to be out of step with the fantasy element of the comic. A strip adaptation based on the glossy TV cop show, Burke’s Law featuring the glossy Gene Barry as Captain Amos Burke.
These are some lines taken from an article I wrote some years back for the Programme Preservation Society magazine which was subsequently reprinted on the Gene Barry Fan Page
Burke’s Law was a typical formula show. Each episode had the title ‘Who Killed...?’ followed by the victims name. The teaser revealed the murder, but not the murderer.
With a blend of comedy and drama, the regular cast would sift through an assortment of star-studded eccentrics. Each suspect was individually questioned by Burke and his fellow detectives, Rookie Tim Tilson (played by Gary Conway) and grizzled veteran Sergeant Lester Hart (played by Regis Toomey), until the guilty party was identified. And in case you hadn’t guessed, the privilege of revealing the guilty party was solely the Captain’s.
Once the sultry and sensuous feminine tones had announced the title and the laid back glitzy theme played along to the scene of Burke’s speeding Rolls Royce, you were in no doubt that this show had it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek. Almost every week Captain of Homicide, Amos Burke (played by Gene Barry) would have to leave some gorgeous fawning female, or an exclusive Hollywood party, to be driven in his Silver Cloud II to the murder scene. Why a Rolls Royce? Because he was a millionaire! Why a cop? Because that’s what he did best!
Now, being a big fan of Burke’s Law at the time I never had a problem with this incongruous strip and enjoyed it just as much as the others. However, these days I do wonder why the editors of TV Century 21 chose to run a strip based on a glossy Hollywood melodramatic cop show rather than favour a contemporary British series like Danger Man with secret agent John Drake which did turn up as a comic strip a year or so later in Lion and Champion comic , or maybe adapt something with a sci-fi element like The Avengers, which turned up in TV Comic and girls' magazine Diana.
Even after all this time I still have nostalgic fondness for Burke’s Law and still pick up the odd Burke’s Law collectable that occasionally comes my way.
This Primrose sweet cigarette wrapper from 1965 clearly shows Captain Burke with Tim Tilson in the background, however it’s using the updated title for the less than successful third series of Burke’s Law, which following the spy craze changed it’s title and format to ‘Amos Burke - Secret Agent’
The Burke’s Law annual from 1964/65. A mixture of text stories and two of the three Dell comic reprints - ‘Who Killed The Curious Crew’ and' Who Killed Harry Dare’.
The Burke’s Law story book from 1965 and another example of Walt Howarth's work perhaps?. A smaller page count than the annual, this has a couple of text stories and the final Dell comic reprint -’Who Killed The Hollywood Hopefuls’.
The original Dell comics.
The original soundtrack album.
Gene Barry released his own album featuring a vocal version of the ‘Burke’s Law’ theme - priceless!
Finally from 2005, a CD release of the original soundtrack. The sleeve notes in the accompanying booklet were quite familiar. Unbeknown to me the publishers had simply copied my article that had been reprinted on the Gene Barry Fan Page.
I suppose I should be flattered really.
Put something on the web and don’t be surprised if it turns up were you least expect it - that’s Burke’s Law!