Friday, October 01, 2010

Stephen J Cannell dead at 69

Hollywood writer Stephen Cannell, the producer of TV shows like "The A-Team" and "The Rockford Files", has died at the age of 69.

I don't watch much TV these days, but there was a time that I did. And back then, most of my favorite shows were produced by Stephen J. Cannell.

He was, of course, probably best known for creating The A-Team, one of my favs back in the day. I was never a Mr. T fan, but I loved George Peppard and Dirk Benedict.

But way before the A-Team, Cannell created Baa, Baa Black Sheep, where Robert Conrad stoked my desire to fly and fight.

And then there was Riptide, the show about two detectives and their geek pal. They had all sorts of neat stuff--boats, cars, a helicopter--but they never seemed to get paid for any of their jobs. (If I was old and cynical like I am now, I'd suspect they were smuggling drugs. But I was all innocent back then.)

He created Hardcastle and McCormick, too. Man, I loved that one.

He came up with The Greatest American Hero too. I wasn't a real big fan of this one, but I usually watched it because Robert Culp was such a bad ass FBI agent.

And then there was Hunter, the show that really made me want to be a cop in ways that sappy shows like CHIPS never could.

There were lots of other shows that Stephen Cannell deserves credit for, but these are the ones that I watched while growing up. They all had lots of action and explosions, gunfire, car chases and tough guys punching each other out, but the common thread was always one of good guys, good friends, and justice winning out in the end. I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that some of these characters were role models to me as a kid, and the constant message of right trumping wrong stuck.

For that, and for making TV fun, I thank you, Mr. Cannell.


  1. He also wrote a lot of detective novels - real page turners with seriously good plots with excellent action and characters. Try The Viking Funeral
    as an example.

    If you liked his shows, you'll like his books.

  2. OH I really hate this!! I get his weekly emails and facebook posts. He had just released another Shane Scully book. This is truly a sad day! Nothing makes you feel old like everyone from your childhood kicking off.

  3. I'll second that tribute.

    To this day, I often use the phrase at work: "I love it when a plan comes together" (usually with a wee bit of sarcasm).

    And let us also raise a toast to the villainous Lt. Donald "Dutch" Dixon, from Renegade. [insert appropriate bass guitar riff here]

    Thanks for keeping us entertained, Mr. Cannell!

  4. That is sad to hear... RIP Mr. Cannell... RIP

  5. I liked Baa Baa Black Sheep a lot, but gave up on it with the introduction of "Pappy's Lambs" in the third season. I wish that they would have filmed the part of Boyington's life where he was a prisoner of war, that would have been far superior to the introduction of nurses which was a pure pander to the female segment of the audience.

  6. Whoa. Flashback city. I loved all those shows. Man, I hate it that guys like Cannell and Tony Curtis are dying off. Makes me a bit maudlin.