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The F.B.I. (TV series)


Introduction and title theme of The F.B.I. “The Monster”

Jefrey Hunter, Jonathan Goldsmith and Sherri Spillane in the opening of “The Monster” – the first episode of the successful series “The F.B.I.” (1965-1974). The title theme was written by Bronislaw Kaper.

220px-Efrem_Zimbalist_Jr_The_FBI_1965From left: Stephen Brooks, Lynn Loring and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., 1965.

The F.B.I. is an American television series that was broadcast on ABC from 1965 to 1974. It was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, and the characters almost always drove Ford vehicles in the series. Alcoa was co-sponsor of Season One only.


Produced by Quinn Martin and based in part on concepts from the 1959 Warner Bros. theatrical film The FBI Story, the series was an authentic telling of or fictionalized accounts of actual F.B.I. cases, with fictitious main characters carrying the stories. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. played Inspector Lewis Erskine, while Philip Abbott played Arthur Ward, assistant director to F.B.I. chief J. Edgar Hoover. Although Hoover served as series consultant until his death in 1972, he was never seen in the series.

Stephen Brooks played Inspector Erskine’s assistant, Special Agent Jim Rhodes, for the first two seasons. Lynn Loring played Inspector Erskine’s daughter and Rhodes’ love interest, Barbara, in the first few episodes of the show. That romantic angle was soon dropped.

Unknown-3In 1967, Brooks was replaced by veteran actor William Reynolds, who played Special Agent Tom Colby until 1973. The series would enjoy its highest ratings during this time, peaking at No. 10 in the 1970–1971 season. For the final season, Shelly Novack played Special Agent Chris Daniels.

Some episodes ended with a “most wanted” segment hosted by Zimbalist, noting the F.B.I.’s most wanted criminals of the day (this was decades before the Fox Network aired America’s Most Wanted). The series aired on ABC at 8 p.m. Sunday from 1965 to 1973, when it was moved up to 7:30 p.m. for the final season.

The series was a co-production of Quinn Martin Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Warner Bros. held the television and theatrical rights to any project based on The F.B.I.. As it turned out, it was the longest running of all of Quinn Martin’s television series, having aired nine seasons.

220px-Cartha_DeLoachCartha D. “Deke” DeLoach, who was the third-ranking official at the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover and briefed the president on the bureau’s activities in the late 1960’s. Mr. DeLoach helped burnish the bureau’s public image throughout the 1960’s. He negotiated a deal with Hollywood mogul Jack Warner for a network television series about the FBI and reviewed scripts.

Mark Felt, then an assistant director at the F.B.I. and later to become famous as the “Deep Throat” source in the Watergate scandal, is reported to have served as an unpaid technical adviser to the series, occasionally going onto the set with Zimbalist. Recent disclosures of memos by the F.B.I., under the FOIA, reveal that the real F.B.I. had casting control over the show.

List of The F.B.I. episodes

UnknownToday’s F.B.I.

An updated and revamped version of the series, Today’s F.B.I., executive produced by David Gerber, aired on ABC from October 1981 through April 1982 in the same Sunday 8 p.m. time slot as its predecessor. A remake of the original series, produced by Ron Howard‘s Imagine Entertainment for Fox, was set for air in Fall 2008; however, that series has yet to air.

DVD releases

180px-Efrem_Zimbalist,_Jr._Most_Wanted_List_The_FBIA 1969 “Ten Most Wanted List” segment; these were seen at the close of some episodes.

Warner Bros. has released the first five seasons of The F.B.I. on DVD in region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection. These are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases and are available through Warner’s online store and  Season 5, Parts 1 & 2 was released on June 4, 2013.

DVD Name Episodes Release Date
The First Season, Part 1 16 May 24, 2011
The First Season, Part 2 16 August 2, 2011
The Second Season, Part 1 16 February 14, 2012
The Second Season, Part 2 13 February 14, 2012
The Third Season, Part 1 16 September 11, 2012
The Third Season, Part 2 11 September 11, 2012
The Fourth Season, Part 1 13 February 26, 2013
The Fourth Season, Part 2 13 February 26, 2013
The Fifth Season, Part 1 13 June 4, 2013
The Fifth Season, Part 2 13 June 4, 2013

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