Friday, June 20, 2014

GANG BUSTERS: Radio Program Spin-Offs

Gang Busters TV series
There is a big myth that circulates regarding GANG BUSTERS being the highest rated television program in history to ever be cancelled by the network. The program aired alternate with DRAGNET on NBC for their premiere year. DRAGNET was independently produced by Jack Webb. GANG BUSTERS was independently produced by Phillips H. Lord. But at the end of the season, Lord discovered the time involved to produce a live-action television series based on the radio program was too much to handle. He was unable to contractually commit for a second season and NBC understood. The television program was never "cancelled." It was simply never renewed until Lord was able to speed up production for a second series of GANG BUSTERS programs... which he succeeded a year later.

Among the television programs was an episode titled "Durable Mike Malloy," adapted from one of the radio scripts. The cost of production was excessive compared to the rest of the series and I always wondered why that was. This week I finally found out why. Lord had intentions of producing a spin-off television series titled DURABLE MIKE MALLOY: A CASE OF THE NEW YORK POLICE. The reason for the larger-than-usual budget was because this served as a pilot for potential sponsors. Lord proposed an hour-long series, according to a television outline, with an option for a condensed half-hour format if the sponsor did not want to invest too much money into the program.

During the early fifties (1950-1952 to be exact), Lord created a number of mapped outlines for proposed radio programs that never met fruition. In 1951, he proposed to CBS a weekly radio program titled FAMOUS CRIMINALS IN NOVELS, described as "an interesting psychological series" and "a series that deals exclusively with the criminal activities of well-known characters in famous books." This included (among his proposal), adaptations of Les Miserables, Vanity Fair, Manon Lescaut, Oliver Twist, The Marble Faun, The House of Seven Gables, The Woman in White, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and An American Tragedy. Naturally, CBS rejected the proposal based not the fact that adaptations of crime novels has been done many times.

For your amusement, I am featuring scans of other radio proposals from FAMOUS MURDERS, THE CON GAME and CRIME LABORATORY. Naturally, the success of GANG BUSTERS was the inspiration for such proposals and while Lord never succeeded in interesting the networks or potential sponsors, his ideas are worth a peak.

Click to enlarge.

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