The F.B.I. is an American police television series created by Quinn Martin and Philip Saltzman for ABC and co-produced with Warner Bros. Television, with sponsorship from the Ford Motor Company, Alcoa and American Tobacco Company in the first season. Ford sponsored the show alone for subsequent seasons. The series was broadcast on ABC from 1965 until its end in 1974. Starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Philip Abbott and William Reynolds, the series, consisting of nine seasons and 241 episodes, chronicles a group of FBI agents trying to defend the US Government from unidentified threats. For the entirety of its run, it was broadcast on Sunday nights.
|Starring||Efrem Zimbalist Jr.|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||241 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producers||Quinn Martin|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production companies||QM Productions|
Warner Bros. Television
Warner Bros.- Seven Arts Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 19, 1965 –|
April 28, 1974
|Related shows||Today's F.B.I. (1981–1982)|
Produced by Quinn Martin and based in part on concepts from the 1959 Warner Bros. theatrical film The FBI Story, the series was based on actual FBI cases, with fictitious main characters carrying the stories. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. played Inspector Lewis Erskine, a widower whose wife had been killed in an ambush meant for him. Philip Abbott played Arthur Ward, assistant director to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Although Hoover served as series consultant until his death in 1972, he never appeared 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 twelve episodes of the show's first season. Although the couple was soon engaged on the show, that romantic angle was soon dropped.
In 1967, Brooks was replaced by 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 FBI's most wanted criminals of the day, decades before the Fox Network aired America's Most Wanted. The most famous instance was in the April 21, 1968, episode, when Zimbalist asked for information about fugitive James Earl Ray, who was being hunted for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
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, as Warner Bros. held the television and theatrical rights to any project based on The FBI Story. It was the longest-running of all of Quinn Martin's television series, airing nine seasons.
Every detail of every episode of the series was carefully vetted by F.B.I. second-in-command Clyde Tolson. Actors playing F.B.I. agents, and other participants, were given background checks to guarantee that no "criminals, subversives, or Communists" were associated with the show. The premiere episode of the first season, "The Monster," about a handsome serial killer who strangled women with their own hair, so shocked Tolson that he recommended the show be cancelled. J. Edgar Hoover attempted to cancel the show on at least seven other occasions. Upon Tolson's direction, the violence in the show was severely curtailed in the final three seasons.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||32||September 19, 1965||May 8, 1966|
|2||29||September 18, 1966||April 16, 1967|
|3||27||September 17, 1967||April 28, 1968|
|4||26||September 22, 1968||March 30, 1969|
|5||26||September 14, 1969||March 8, 1970|
|6||26||September 20, 1970||March 21, 1971|
|7||26||September 12, 1971||March 19, 1972|
|8||26||September 17, 1972||April 1, 1973|
|9||23||September 16, 1973||April 28, 1974|
Warner Bros. (under the Warner Home Video label) has released all nine 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 Amazon.com. The ninth and final season was released on September 23, 2014.
|DVD Name||Ep #||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|
|The Sixth Season||26||October 15, 2013|
|The Seventh Season||26||February 25, 2014|
|The Eighth Season||26||June 10, 2014|
|The Ninth Season||23||September 23, 2014|