Wednesday, November 12, 2008


On Monday I finally saw an episode of 'Amos Burke, Secret Agent', which was basically the third season of 'Burke's Law'. Hoping to cash in on the spy craze of that time, the supporting cast of characters (Detectives Les Hart, Tim Tillson, and chauffeur Henry) were jettisoned and Amos Burke no longer was in charge of the L.A. Metro Homicide Division, but instead was a globe-trotting secret agent reporting to "The Man" (Carl Benton Reid). I'm not sure how badly it did in the ratings, but it lasted only that one season.

Even though I had never seen an episode prior to Monday, I was never comfortable with the idea of the series. Mainly because I had been such a big fan of 'Burke's Law' when I was a teenager, watching the syndicated run in the afternoons from the CBS affiliate in Hartford. Why mess with a formula that works?

Many years later, when the 'Burke's Law' sequel arrived, it became even more of a problem, and this time within the framework of the Toobworld reality: Amos Burke was back in charge of Homicide in the L.A. police department and with his son Peter along to boot - and never a mention of Burke's past as a spy.

The presence of Peter was easy enough to splain away. By the time the first 'Burke's Law' debuted on ABC back in the sixties, Amos Burke had been divorced from Peter's mother. Although we never saw Peter as a young boy on the show, he still existed in the greater expanse of the TV Universe; I'm sure Captain Burke visited him on the weekends.

But as he did have a young son, a job he loved, and a fortune with which he could have remained on Easy Street, why would Burke ever risk it all for the dangerous work of a spy? And after he was finished with it, how did he transfer so easily back into his old job at the Metro Division?

Originally, my solution was to separate the three series - the two 'Burke's Law' shows would be kept in the main Toobworld, while 'Amos Burke, Secret Agent' would be the doppelganger in the evil mirror universe or some other TV dimension.

But then I found out that Michael Dunn was the guest star in "The Prisoners Of Mr. Sin" and the episode description sounded like Mr. Sin would be a perfect candidate to be an alias for Dr. Loveless. No way I wanted to lose the opportunity to increase Miguelito's Toobworld resume!

So I brought 'Amos Burke, Secret Agent' back into the fold, but I wasn't happy about it.

Now, having seen a few episodes (courtesy of a bootleg DVD), I think I may have a new theory that can reconcile the contradictions between the three series.

Amos Burke, Secret Agent, was not Amos Burke, Police Captain.
I'm looking at an episode of 'Columbo' to justify this splainin: in "Identity Crisis", the murder victim, code-named "Geronimo", was using the alias of AJ Henderson. AJ Henderson was an insurance executive living in Westport, Ct., and Geronimo could depend on him remaining in that area and not jeopardizing Geronimo's operations by unexpectedly showing up in the middle of them while Geronimo was using his name as a cover.

I get this feeling I may not have splained that properly. Sorry about that, Chief......

I think the same situation applied with 'Amos Burke, Secret Agent'. The operative, who bore a close resemblance to Captain Burke, chose the wealthy homicide detective because he knew he could trust Burke to remain rooted to the L.A. area. Burke had his job, in which he took an active role in most of the homicide cases of the day; and he had his son Peter growing nearby. The operative could reasonably assume that even with his vaunted wealth which could take him anywhere in the world, Amos Burke would more than likely stay where he was in Beverly Hills.

Luckily, with his close resemblance to Amos Burke, this secret agent was able to cash in on the name's recognition factor. For example, in "The Prisoners Of Mr. Sin", Mr. Sin checked with Amos Burke's bank to make sure he had plenty of money on hand which he could drain at his leisure while he had Burke in his captivity - or so he thought.

So who was this operative? Well, I'm not sure if it was his real name or just another alias, but I think he was still working for the government years later - this time as "Gene Bradley", famous movie star (as seen in 'The Adventurer').

Can I prove this? Of course not. But I'm fairly certain you can't disprove it either!

Toby O'B

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