is a mystery
/crime drama television series
starring Dick Van Dyke
as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son, a homicide detective played by his real-life son Barry Van Dyke
. The series began as a spin-off
of Jake and the Fatman
(Dr. Mark Sloan made his first appearance in episode 4.19 "It Never Entered My Mind"), became a series of three TV movies, and then a weekly television series that debuted on CBS
on October 29
. The series struggled at first and was almost canceled at the end of the second season, it returned as a midseason replacement
in the third season, and was regularly renewed thereafter. 178 episodes
were made and aired in the show's eight seasons on the CBS
network in the United States
and two more TV movies aired after the series' cancellation on May 11
. Since 1997, the popular show used to air in reruns on ABC Family
(formerly The Family Channel). Currently, Diagnosis: Murder
airs Sundays on the Hallmark Channel
. in America, weekdays on the Hallmark Channel (UK)
and BBC One
in the United Kingdom and weekdays on Foxtel
channel in Australia
. The show was produced by Viacom Productions
and is currently distributed by CBS Television Distribution
, the syndication arm of CBS Paramount Television
In the Jake and the Fatman episode, Dr. Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons and Ally Walker played Dr. Amanda Bently, a role that went to Cynthia Gibb in the TV movies and, finally, Victoria Rowell in the TV series. That wasn't the only casting change. Stephen Caffrey played Dr. Jack Stewart in the movies, a role that went to Scott Baio in the weekly series.
The first three TV movies were shot in Vancouver, B.C. The first two seasons of the series were shot in Denver, CO and all the subsequent seasons in Los Angeles.
The plot centered around Dr. Mark Sloan
(Dick Van Dyke
), a renowned physician
who occasionally worked for the local police department
as a consultant, and who could not resist a good mystery or a friend in need. Those cases often involved his son, Detective Steve Sloan
(played by Van Dyke's real-life son Barry Van Dyke
). Helping him were his colleagues, medical examiner
/pathologist Dr. Amanda Bentley
) and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio
), who later left and was replaced by a new resident, Dr. Jesse Travis
- Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke), Chief of Internal Medicine at Community General Hospital, and protagonist of the series. Son of a cop and father of another, in whose cases he often got involved. He is medical consultant to the LAPD. Dick Van Dyke was considered for the lead role after the positive reviews he received from his dramatic role in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy (although the character he played in the movie was villainous and very different from the role of Mark Sloan). In the pilot the character had interests in tap dance and clarinet playing; however, these were considered distracting and were toned down and eventually removed from the character as the series developed.
- Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan (Barry Van Dyke), a police detective (later lieutenant) in the Robbery/Homicide Division of the LAPD and Dr. Mark Sloan's son. After an earthquake destroyed his apartment, he lived in a separate apartment in his father's beach house in Malibu. Steve often uses his patented dive to apprehend criminals.
- Dr. Amanda Bentley (Cynthia Gibb) in the T.V. Movies set before the series, later Bentley-Livingston (Victoria Rowell), resident Pathologist at Community General Hospital and assistant County Medical Examiner, who is also Dr. Mark Sloan's straightwoman and medical partner, involving in each of Mark's & Steve's cases, after the accident. As a favorable character of the show, she also dated Jack and was later Jesse's best friend. During the series, she married a military man, and had a son named C.J. Depending on the episode, she divorced him or he was killed in a plane crash. Later in the series, she adopted another boy, Deon.
- Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio, 1993-1995, seasons 1-2), a doctor at Community General Hospital and Steve's best friend, whom he often helped in his cases. He left to open his own practice in Colorado.
- Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter, 1995-2001, seasons 3-8), a resident at Community General Hospital who Mark took under his wing. He often got involved in Mark and Steve's cases, with good intentions but not always good results.
- Norman Briggs (Michael Tucci, 1993-1997, seasons 1-4), administrator at Community General Hospital and a close friend of Dr. Mark Sloan, even though he is often exasperated by him.
- Delores Mitchell (Delores Hall, 1993-1995, seasons 1-2), Dr. Sloan's lively secretary.
One unique aspect of the series was that it frequently appropriated characters from various classic television series.
- Mike Connors reprised his titular character from Mannix in the season 4 episode "Hard-Boiled Murder". The episode's story was a sequel to the Mannix episode "Little Girl Lost".
- Andy Griffith reprised his titular role of Ben Matlock from Matlock in season 4 two-parter "Murder Two". In a sense, this brought Diagnosis: Murder full circle, as its parent series, Jake and the Fatman, was inspired by an episode of Matlock.
- Barbara Bain reprised her role of Cinnamon Carter from Mission: Impossible in season 5 episode "Discards".
- Peter Graves, who starred alongside Barbara Bain in Mission:Impossible as Jim Phelps did not return as his character, but did make a very brief cameo in part 1 of the Series 6 episode Trash TV Part 1 as "Dr. Sloane" [sic] in a mission impossible style illusion of his first tv pilot, later replaced during the show.
- Robert Culp also guest starred in the episode "Discards" as Dane Travis, a retired spy, tennis professional, and Dr. Travis' father. The character was similar to his Kelly Robinson character from I Spy, though Travis was said to have worked with the Impossible Mission Force (from Mission: Impossible).
- "Discards" also featured appearances by former TV spies Patrick Macnee (The Avengers) and Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), though they did not play their original characters.
- Jack Klugman also guest starred in season 4 episode "Physician, Murder Thyself", as a character very similar to his famous role in Quincy . He guest-starred again, in season 6 episode "Voices Carry" as police detective Harry Trumble, the former fiance of Dr. Mark Sloan's late wife. Trumble reappeared in Lee Goldberg's Diagnosis Murder novel "The Past Tense."
- Star Trek's George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Wil Wheaton and Grace Lee Whitney together with Bill Mumy of Lost in Space and Babylon 5 were guest stars in "Alienated!" one sixth season episode, which involved an alien abduction and coverup.
- A few members of the M*A*S*H television cast, including Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit and William Christopher, as well as Elliot Gould and Sally Kellerman from the original movie were guests in the "Drill for Death" episode.
- Randolph Mantooth and Robert Fuller of Emergency! appeared together in an episode about the Malibu brushfires.
- The episode "Must Kill TV" features a number of small cameos by TV personalities like Eric Estrada and Dr. Joyce Brothers playing themselves and a bigger one from Stephen J. Cannell as an over-the-top persiflage of a producer of action TV. The role is reprised in the two-parter "Trash TV".
- The episode "Food Fight" features the following actors: Erin Moran, Pat Morita, and Don Most (from Happy Days); David Lander and Leslie Easterbrook (from Laverne & Shirley); and Conrad Janis (from Mork and Mindy).
Over the run of the show, various episodes guest starred at least eight different members of the Van Dyke family:
- Dick Van Dyke and son Barry Van Dyke in the lead roles.
- Dick's brother, Jerry Van Dyke.
- One of Dick's daughters, Stacy Van Dyke.
- Barry's children: Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, Wes Van Dyke, and Taryn Van Dyke.
- Rob Petrie (Van Dyke himself from the Dick Van Dyke Show) features in a cameo in one episode where Dr. Sloan is in a radio station, and walks past a studio where (through a bit of CGI magic), Rob is (failing at) being a radio DJ!
Smaller recurring roles
- Joanna Cassidy (Season 7) plays Madison Wesley, a doctor friend of Mark Sloan, and Dean of Community General's Medical School. She is in 8 episodes.
- Kim Little (Season 6) plays Susan Hillard, Jesse's long time girlfriend, for 11 episodes.
- Susan Gibney (Seasons 5-7) plays Detective Tanis Archer, Steve's partner in over 7 episodes.
- Charmin Lee (Seasons 7-8) is Steve's second partner Cheryl, who is in 7 episodes between seasons 7 and 8.
- Martin Kove (Seasons 6-7) is Captain Newman, for 5 episodes.
- Shane Van Dyke (Seasons 4-8) is Alex Smith, the third year medical student, who appears in 14 episodes. He is also seen as a boxing student in Never Say Die and an actor in Frontier Dad. (Both these episodes star the rest of Barry Van Dyke's children also.)
- Carey Van Dyke (Seasons 4-8) plays various characters: Mr. Kelso, Terry Marshall, Kyle Lewis, Brendan Kelly, Carl Simpson, and Craig Wilson.
- Kevin McNally (Seasons 3-8) as the ubiquitous EMT in 19 episodes.
- Tim Conway plays Tim Conrad, an old friend of Mark's. Also a comedian in over 4 episodes.
- Harry J. Lennix (Seasons 5-6) stars Agent Ron Wagner, in 6 episodes.
Special guest stars
Diagnosis: Murder had a total of eight seasons and 178 episodes which were broadcast on CBS between 1993 and 2001.
Community General Hospital
Community General Hospital is the main set for the show. It is six to seven floors depending on the episode. It holds about 400 beds, with three trauma rooms, two psych wards, and one Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Mark Sloan is Chief of Internal Medicine. The Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills, California was used as the exterior of Community General Hospital in the final, three seasons of the show (it was also used as a casino in the pilot for CSI).
BBQ Bob's is a restaurant that Jesse Travis and Steve Sloan co-own starting in the sixth season. Mark Sloan is also a silent partner. It is located in a small strip mall very close to Community General Hospital. Other stores around it include a jewelery store, travel agency and a bank. It is often frequented by the hospital staff as an alternative to the hospital cafe. All staff members get discounts. The exterior of BBQ Bob's was based on a storefront at the Whizin's Center in Agoura, California, where exterior scenes of BBQ Bobs were occasionally filmed.
had five TV movies
between 1992 and 2002, three of which aired prior to the TV series.
- Diagnosis of Murder, the first TV movie, aired before the regular series, January 5, 1992 on CBS.
- The House on Sycamore Street, the Second TV movie, aired before the regular series, May 1, 1992 on CBS.
- A Twist of the Knife, the third TV movie, aired before the regular series, February 13, 1993 on CBS.
- A Town Without Pity, the fourth TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, February 6, 2002 on CBS.
- Without Warning, the fifth and final TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, April 26, 2002 on CBS.
Between 2003 and 2007, there have been eight original novels published based on the TV series. All of them were written by Lee Goldberg
, a former executive producer and writer on the TV series. According to his website, there will be no more books based on the show. The books are, in order:
- Diagnosis Murder: The Silent Partner
- Diagnosis Murder: The Death Merchant
- Diagnosis Murder: The Shooting Script
- Diagnosis Murder: The Waking Nightmare
- Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense
- Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
- Diagnosis Murder: The Double Life
- Diagnosis Murder: The Last Word
The book The Past Tense is a prequel to the Diagnosis Murder episode Voices Carry, which guest-starred Jack Klugman as Harry Trumble, and chronicles Dr. Mark Sloan's first homicide investigation. The final book in the series, The Last Word, is a sequel of sorts to the episodes Obsession and Resurrection and features the return of Carter Sweeney, who was played by Arye Gross in the TV series. The character of Lt. Ben Kealoha in The Death Merchant reappears in the Monk novel [Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii], which was also written by Goldberg.
On September 12
, CBS Home Entertainment
released the complete Season 1 of Diagnosis: Murder
on Region 1
DVD. The set included the Jake and the Fatman
episode 4.19, "It Never Entered My Mind," which introduced the character of Dr. Mark Sloan. It did not however, include the TV movies that were made prior to the show's premiere. Seasons 2 and 3 are also now available. After two years since the release of the first season on Region 1
DVD, a Region 2
DVD of Diagnosis: Murder - Series 1
was released on May 5th 2008, according to Amazon.co.uk