Cult TV Essentials

The Magician

The Magician was another of my favorite shows back in the day. It ran on NBC from 1973-1974.  Bill Bixby (the future Incredible Hulk), starred as Tony Blake a millionaire magician who solves crimes. Originally in the series pilot, his character was named Tony Dorian but was later changed because it conflicted with a real-life magician.

During the series, Bixby studied magic and became an amateur conjuror. He also insisted on doing all of his illusions without the assistance of trick photography. The premise behind the show was that Blake was unjustly imprisoned in South America years ago on espionage charges. He escaped the prison with his cellmate and was immediately exonerated of the crime. This episode in his life fueled his desire to help people through magic.

His cellmate ended up dying and Tony inherited millions of dollars. As a result, he got to live in a jet with his pilot, Jerry Anderson (Jim Watkins). Blake also drove around in a sweet Corvette Stingray that quickly became my dream vehicle. Halfway through the show’s run, the jet was dropped in favor of a swanky apartment in the Magic Castle. For those of you unfamiliar with that location, it is a well-known club that is huge in the magician community.

Occasionally, Tony was assisted by reporter Max Pomeroy (Keene Curtis) and his son Dennis (Todd Crespi). Along with the jet being replaced as a residence the supporting cast was also let go in favor of adding a new character brought in for comic relief, named Dominick (Joseph Sirola). Another recurring player would be cast as Tony’s assistant (Larry Anderson).

Although this program didn’t last very long, it exerted an influence on Chris Carter, the executive producer of The X Files. Carter was a fan of the show and had it written into the famous episode of Samantha Mulder’s abduction. The series was also mentioned in an episode of Quantum Leap when Sam Beckett jumped into an amateur prestidigitator that wanted to appear on Bixby’s show.

The Magician was cancelled because it was deemed too expensive to produce. Currently, Visual Entertainment plans to release the complete series on DVD in the future.

 

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