Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Naked City: An Internet Resource, Including Jump the Shark Rescue!

Naked City: Star Paul Burke on the phone

Naked City stars Paul Burke, L, who for much of the 1960s, was the biggest thing in TV drama, and Horace McMahon. The PR still is from late in the series, thus the color print.

Compiled by Nicholas Stix

[This is the entry at The Museum of Broadcast Communications, which is one of the greatest sites on the Web, its politics and godawful layout notwithstanding. If you tried to access the TV series histories via the main page, you might give up, without ever finding any shows.]


U.S. Police Drama

Naked City, which had two incarnations between 1958 and 1963, was one of American television's most innovative police shows, and one of its most important and influential drama series. More character anthology than police procedural, the series blended the urban policier a la Dragnet with the urban pathos of the Studio One school of television drama, offering a mix of action-adventure and Actors' Studio, car chases and character studies, shoot-outs and sociology, all filmed with arresting starkness on the streets of New York.

The series was inspired by the 1948 "semi-documentary" feature, The Naked City (which borrowed its title from the photographic collection by urban documentarist/crime photographer Weegee). Independent producer Herbert Leonard (The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin, Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, Circus Boy) developed the idea as a half-hour series for Screen Gems, hiring writer Stirling Silliphant for the pilot script. Leonard outlined his plan for the series to Variety in 1958 as an attempt to tell anthology-style stories within the framework of a continuing-character show. It was to be "a human interest series about New York," the producer declared, "told through the eyes of two law enforcement officers." Leonard's agenda for the series' setting was equally unique: it would be shot completely on location in New York, duplicating the trend-setting realism of its feature film progenitor. This was an ambitious, if not radical, move at this moment in television history, for although New York still retained a significant presence as the site of variety shows, a few live anthologies, and the quiz programs, no other telefilm dramas were being produced there at the time.

Naked City 's first season on ABC presented 39 taut, noirish half-hours (31 scripted by Silliphant) that mixed character drama, suspense, and action. The characters for the series' two regular detectives were carried over from the feature film: Lt. Dan Muldoon (John McIntire), the seasoned veteran, and his idealistic young subordinate, Detective Jim Halloran (James Franciscus). When creative differences arose between McIntire and Leonard at mid-season, Muldoon was written out of the series via a fiery car crash, and replaced as the 65th Precinct's father-figure by crusty Lt. Mike Parker (Horace MacMahon). The show's signature was its narrator, who introduced each episode with the assurance that the series was not filmed in a studio, but "in the streets and buildings of New York itself," and returned thirty minutes later to intone the series' famous tag-line (also borrowed from the feature): "There are eight million stories in
the Naked City. This has been one of them."

Despite an Emmy nomination for Best Drama, Naked City's downbeat dramatics did not generate adequate ratings, and it was canceled. Unlike other failed shows, however, Naked City was not forgotten. In the fall of 1959 one of the show's former sponsors urged producer Leonard to mount Naked City for the following season in hour-long form. The sponsor's interest led ABC to finance the pilot, and in Fall 1960 Leonard was at the helm of two hour-long prime-time drama series (the other being Route 66 at CBS).

New York remained the show's most distinctive star, and extensive location shooting remained its trademark. Horace MacMahon returned as Lt. Parker, but with a different compassionate young colleague, Detective Adam Flint (Paul Burke), who was partnered with good-natured Sgt. Frank Arcaro (Harry Bellaver), and engaged to aspiring actress Libby Kingston (Nancy Malone). Silliphant wrote the pilot, and stayed on as executive story consultant, but wrote fewer scripts due to his heavy involvement with Route 66. Leonard brought in anthology veteran Howard Rodman as story editor and frequent scripter, and was able to attract other writers with a penchant for social drama, including anthology alumni like Ernest Kinoy and Mel Goldberg, Hollywood blacklistees such as Arnold Manoff (writing as "Joel Carpenter"), Abram Ginnes, and Ben Maddow--and budding TV auteurs like Gene Roddenberry.

With a company of serious writers and more time for story and character development, Naked City's anthology flavor became even more pronounced. Stories became more character-driven, with a more central focus on transient characters (i.e., "guest stars"), and more extended psychological exploration. This dimension of the show was informed by a distinctive roster of guest stars, from well-known Hollywood performers like Claude Rains and Lee J. Cobb, and character players like Eli Wallach, Maureen Stapleton, and Walter Matthau, to such up-and-coming talents as Diahann Carroll and Dustin Hoffman. A 1962 Time profile called the series' array of stars "the best evidence that Naked City is not just another cop show." Its stories provided even stronger evidence. Naked City's structure placed less emphasis on investigation and police work than did police-procedurals in the Dragnet mold--and less emphasis on the detectives themselves. As Todd Gitlin has put it, on Naked City "the regular cops faded into the background while the foreground belonged to each week's new character in the grip of the city."

With its stories generally emphasizing the points-of-view of the criminals, victims, or persons-in-crisis, Naked City exhibited a more complicated and ambiguous vision of morality and justice than traditional policiers, where good and bad were clear-cut. Most of the characters encountered by Flint and Arcaro were simply people with problems, who stumbled up against the law by accident or ill fortune; when the occasional hit man, bank robber, or jewel thief was encountered, they too were humanized, their motives and psyches probed. However, sociopaths and career crooks were far outnumbered by more mundane denizens of the naked city, thrust into crisis by circumstance: an innocent ex-con accused of murder; a disfigured youth living in the shadows of the tenements; a Puerto Rican immigrant worn down by poverty and unemployment; a lonely city bureaucrat overcome by suicidal despair; a junior executive who kills over a parking space; a sightless boy on an odyssey through the streets of Manhattan. Eight million stories--or at least 138 as dramatized in this series--rooted in the sociology and psychology of human pain.

Naked City revised the traditional cop-show commitment to crime and punishment. Unlike their prime-time counterparts Joe Friday and Eliot Ness, Detectives Flint and Arcaro did not toil in the grim pursuit of "facts" with which to solve cases and incarcerate criminals. Rather, they pondered human puzzles, bore witness to suffering, and meditated on the absurdities of urban existence. With compassion more typical of TV doctors than TV detectives, they brought justice to the innocent, helped lost souls fit back into society, and agonized over broken lives they could not fix. Indeed, as critic David Boroff put it in an essay on "TV's Problem Play," the detectives of Naked City were "as much social workers as cops."

Whereas every episode of Dragnet ended with the record of a trial (and usually a conviction), Naked City was seldom able to resolve its stories quite so easily. The series offered narrative closure, but no easy answers; it did not pretend to solve social problems, nor did it mute, defuse, or mask them. Although some episodes ended with guarded hope, happy endings were rare; resolutions were just as likely to be framed in melancholy bemusement or utter despair. Naked City's "solution" was to admit that there are no solutions--at least none that could be articulated in the context of its own dramatic agenda. "One of its strengths," wrote Boroff in 1966, "was that it said nothing which is neatly paraphraseable. It was, in truth, Chekhovian in its rueful gaze at people in the clutch of disaster. Naked City was, in essence, a compassionate--not a savage--eye. This I have seen, it said."

In this pic, Horace McMahon looks more like a priest than a cop. It’s the Irish thing, and the way he’s dressed.

Naked City was one of ABC's most prestigious shows during the early sixties, nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in Drama" Emmy every season it was on the air, and winning several Emmies for editing and cinematography. The series was canceled at the end of the 1962-63 season, but its influence was already clear. In its day, it paved the way for the serious, urban dramas that followed a la The Defenders, and East Side, West Side, and sparked a modest renaissance in New York telefilm production in the early sixties. At a larger level, it experimented with the formal definition of the series, demonstrated that complex drama could be done within the series format, and expanded the aesthetic horizons of the police show. Echoing Weegee's photographic studies, which captured the faces of New York in the glare of a camera flash, television's Naked City offered narrative portraits, exposed through the equally revealing light of the writer's imagination. Ultimately both versions of Naked City are less about society or a city than people, which is why the portraits are often disturbing, and always fascinating.

-Mark Alvey

[N.S.: Weak ending; metaphysical mush. If the movie and TV series weren’t about a city, than why were they called Naked City, instead of say, Tobacco Road, or The Human Predicament?]


Detective Lieutenant Dan Muldoon (1958-l959)..................................................John McIntire
Detective Lieutenant Jim Halloran (1958-1959)..................................James Franciscus
Janet Halloran (1958-1959).......... Suzanne Storrs
Patrolman/Sergeant Frank Arcaro. Harry Bellaver
Lieutenant Mike Parker (1959-l963) Horace McMahon
Detective Adam Flint (1960-1963)....... Paul Burke
Libby (1960-1963)............................ Nancy Malone

    Herbert B. Leonard, Charles Russell

    138 Episodes
September 1958-September 1959      Tuesday
9:30-10:00 October 1960-September l963      Wednesday


Boroff, David. "Television and the Problem Play." In Hazard, Patrick D., editor. TV as Art. Champaign, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 1966.

"Case History of a TV Producer." Variety (Los Angeles) 14 October 1959.

Collins, Max Alan, and John Javna. The Best of Crime and Detective TV. New York: Harmony, 1988.

Columbia Pictures Television: The Studio and the Creative Process. New York: Museum of Broadcasting, 1987.

Gelman, Morris J. "New York, New York." Television (New York), December 1962.

Gitlin, Todd. Inside Prime Time. New York: Pantheon, 1983.

"Have Camera, Will Travel." Variety (Los Angeles) 12 October 1960.

Johnson, B. "Naked City." TV Guide (Radnor, Pennsylvania) 16 May 1959.

Leonard, Herbert B., Papers, Theater Arts Library, UCLA.

"Naked City Gets New ABC-TV Lease, This Time as a Full-Hour Entry." Variety (Los Angeles), 28 October 1959.

"Naked City More Like a Naked Nightmare (Now It Can Be Told)." Variety (Los Angeles), 12 June 1963.

"Naked Truth." Newsweek (New York), 4 March 1963.

"On the Streets." Time (New York), 7 September 1962.

Rodman, Howard. Papers., Wisconsin Center For Film and Theater Research.

Rosen, George. "Heavy N.Y. Shooting Schedule." Variety (Los Angeles),
9 March 1960.

Rowan, Arthur. "We Travel Light and We Travel Fast." American Cinematographer (Hollywood, California), August 1959.

Silliphant, Sterling. Papers., UCLA Special Collections.

"We Can Make 'Em Just as Cheap or Cheaper in N.Y.: Herb Leonard." Variety (Los Angeles) 26 February 1958.

See also Police Programs; Silliphant,


Fonzie Jumps the Shark on Happy Days

Tips ‘o the hate to kmcnally and Bone the Fish.

By Nicholas Stix

Remember Jump the Shark? For those of you who don’t, it was one of the best Web sites for lovers of great and not-so-great TV shows of the past. You could pass the time for hours on end, reading other viewers’ comments, and adding your own. It was founded in 2000? by Jon Hein, who sold it to TV Guide on June 20, 2006, for anywhere from $1,000,001 to $10 million in 2009.

Instead of maintaining JTS, and using it to draw traffic to its own site, the geniuses at TV Guide 86ed the entire Web site, and turned its URL into a redirect to TV Guide. That’s one expensive re-direct! And the re-direct is only of value for as long as people recall JTS. Soon enough, the name will become meaningless, and TV Guide’s suits will have wasted yet more millions of dollars, on their way to oblivion.

Having recently discovered this disgrace, I recalled that way back when, I had downloaded a number of JTS pages. I just found them, and can’t believe that it was so long ago that I was a JTS habitué. It was mostly during 2008, which means that by the time I discovered this site for myself, it had already been sold to the suits.

With time, I forgot about the place, as I frequented other “gin joints,” like the much less reader-friendly Internet Movie Database.

TV Guide’s corporate foolishness inspired the protest site, Bone the Fish.

What Happened to JTS? Jump the Shark?

The term "Bone the Fish" was created in direct reference to TV Guide parent Gemstar. Sometime in 2006, Jon Hein decided to sell the website known as "Jump the Shark" or "". Hein sold his company, Jump The Shark, Inc., to Gemstar (owners of TV Guide) on June 20, 2006 for "over $1 million". After Jon Hein sold it he went to work with Howard Stern. Some Howard Stern staff have speculated that the site sold closer to $5-$10 million, however. We like to say that was the point in time when the website Jump the Shark "Boned the Fish".

Around January/February 2009, Gemstar decided to redesign the website. With this new redesign they decided to scrap all the old content and make JTS a redirect to there gossip blog site. Some argue that this is the point in time when the website "Boned the Fish".
Bone the Fish is trying to pick up, where Jump the Shark left off, but starting form scratch, without any of the latter’s years of reader-created content. I wish its proprietor luck.

Naked City Theme Song - Nelson Riddle (1962) (Jazz/Muzak Version)

Upload by maynardcat

Naked City (1958—63) Intro/Lead-In

Upload by palaaver55.

Jump the Shark entry, saved on October 3, 2008.

Naked City
First Show 1958
10 p.m.
Last Show 1963
Slot Day Wednesday
Genre Drama
Network ABC

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Naked City was filmed in B&W with a great openning theme that was made for New York City to say nothing of the score. The cast was a perfect match for series,in my openion they looked like the cops on my street in New York City.

The only detective series that even came close to it was on NBC it was called Homicide Life On The Street and it took place in Baltimore.

Sep 17, 2008 7:02 PM
Bob Levy

great series with an incredible cast and stories....never jumped shark ...i have all the episodes in my collection if anyone is itnerested email me at

Mar 19, 2008 9:14 AM
eddie o

Television drama at its best. I have purchased all the available DVD offerings and watch them from time to time. Prefer watching these old shows to what is being presented to-day. I hope Image Entertainment releases more episodes.

Jul 5, 2007 7:11 PM
P. Bezaire

This show was years ahead of its time. In fact, it still is.

Jun 1, 2007 1:11 PM

Classy, literate, beautifully photographed and scored. I am truly thankful for Image having issued 60 episodes, and I can't wait for more.

Mar 3, 2007 9:04 AM

The best cop show ever - great cast, great characters, great music. Plots were up and down sometimes, but never down very far. The fact that it was B&W was a plus - perfect for the moody, low-key atmosphere it exuded.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

Never jumped! Too bad they don't show reruns. Not only were the stories interesting, the street scenes in these episodes reminds me of when I grew up on the Bronx. I learned how to drive on my dad's 62 Pontiac Catalina very similar to the cars the actors used. In fact there was a Pontiac dealer on the upper west side that would loan a few brand new Catalinas out to the set for free (cheap advertising for the dealer).

Pre Feb 28, 2007

David Janssen gave a restrained, intelligent performance in "On the Battlefront, Every Moment is Important", co-written by Howard Rodman ("Harry O"). Janssen played the owner of a successful Manhattan advertising agency who is dying of leukemia. Janssen needs someone to take over his company and he sets his sights on dedicated, talented, persistent detective Adam Flint (Paul Burke). This was one of Janssen's few performances that gave a hint of the gravitas he was to show as Dr. Richard Kimble. He let go of his Richard Diamond persona long enough to show some genuine human emotion. Legendary producer Roy Huggins, who created but didn't produce "The Fugitive", may have gotten the idea for "Run For Your Life" from this episode. In that fine series, Ben Gazzara gave a splendid performance as a man who drops everything to lead a life of adventure and enlightened hedonism when he finds that he has only a year or two to live. Critics derided "Run For Your Life" as a "Fugitive" rip- off, but "Life" was even more compelling in many ways, and it wasn't so tied to a rigid formula. Paul Burke gave one his best performances as Adam Flint in "Battlefront", but I think he should have taken Janssen's offer and ditched the force for the challenges of running a business. Not all the eight million stories of the naked city are about criminals, and they don't all end with someone going to the slammer.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

An actress named Constance Ford gave a stinging performance in "A Wednesday Night Story". She played the angry, domineering rich bitch wife of a wealthy executive (David Janssen) who she suspects is cheating on her. Constance had played a similar role a couple of years prior in "A Summer Place" where she made husband Richard Egan and daughter Sandra Dee miserable. Making family miserable was her special gift. Janssen finally takes a bullet in the gut with a very surprised look on his face. But it wasn't Constance that shot him but the sexy Swedish maid (Ulla Jacobbson). It turned out Janssen was cheating on the maid as well as his wife. Janssen was a close friend of series star Paul Burke (they appeared in the classic 1955 move "Francis in the Navy" (along with Clint Eastwood and Martin Milner). The Burke's had a great time showing the Janssen's the city during the making of the episode, although eventually Mrs. Burke decided Janssen was less than a good influence on her husband.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

This show was originally 30 minutes in length. John McIntire and newcomer James
Franciscus starred in the roles played by Barry Fitzgerald and Don Taylor in the 1948 film noir. McIntire felt he should do the series narration rather than Lawrence Dobkin saying he was producer Bert Leonard. Leonard strongly disagreed and McIntire was out. McIntire's character Dan Muldoon was killed off on screen, which I think was a first for a series hero (and almost never done thereafter). Up to then, I thought these hero guys were immortal in addition to being infallible and moral paragons. Franciscus took over as the lead, and Horace McMahon took over for McIntire. No other actor played a cop as convincingly as McMahon. It was almost like he wasn't acting. When ABC surprisingly decided to bring the show back as an hour show, the very appealing Franciscus was no longer available and Paul Burke was brought on as Detective Adam Flint. Burke was superb as a cop, almost as convincing as McMahon. And Nancy Malone added some welcome sex appeal as Flint's actress girl-friend. Bert Leonard and these actors turned a classic movie into a classic television series.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

This show had audacious ambition. Filmed on location in New York City, literate scripts by brilliant writers, and the finest actors in America as guest stars. A short honor roll of the actors: George C. Scott, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Duvall, Claude Rains, Peter Falk, Eli Wallach, Rip Torn, Anthony Franciosa, Bradford Dillman, Walter Mathau, on and on and on. The best we had. Executive producer Herbert B. Leonard had come a long way from "Rin Tin Tin" and "Circus Boy". Audacious ambition.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

One of the great series of the 60s. Classic character study, far too intelligent for today's audiences. Deemed too "slow moving" for current viewers. Translation: the morons watching would have to think.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

So many years later I still find myself humming the theme song and remembering this great series. So disappointed that it's not in syndication or otherwise available to see.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

Never Jumped. I had never seen this program until 1999, when I moved to Germany. One of their cable channels showed an excellent dubbed version of the show early in the morning. The German title is Gnadelose Stadt," which translates as "merciless city." It's a downright shame that reruns of Naked City are so hard to come by and that almost no contemporary television programming even begins to approach the literary and visual quality of this old anthology series.

Even my mother, a confirmed television-hater from way back, enjoyed this show during its heyday. To me it was rather like a non-supernatural Twilight Zone.

Pre Feb 28, 2007

The hour version from the early sixties starring Paul Burke. Even though a cop show, it was more interested in characters than violence. Good theme song and great narration by Lawrence Dobkin. Guest stars early in their careers such as Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford and Robert Duvall. There are 8 million stories. It's too bad they only showed about 100.

Pre Feb 28, 2007


Jennifer Frank said...

I have seen this movie and would give it a 4 out of 5 if I were to rank it. Although it's a breather from the 50's chick flick I've watched, I just can't help but find the plot too bland; it’s too standard for my taste. Anyway, can you suggest any classic movies relating to Legalities and Business Management? I've seen Wall Street (1987), but I would like to watch something that will give me a hard time predicting the ending.

Anonymous said...

"a sightless boy on an odyssey through the streets of Manhattan."

If the sightless boy is a whitey boy just be careful what neighborhood you walk into.

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