Rick and A.J. Simon (Simon & Simon)

Created by Philip DeGuere

Ever wonder what would happen if the HARDY BOYS grew up?

At least a little bit?

Squabbling siblings and San Diego private eye brothers RICK and ANDREW JACKSON “A.J.”  SIMON attempted to answer that question every week for seven seasons on Simon & Simon, one of the eighties’ more popular detective series.

Me? I could never quite get into it. Slick, glib. Fluff. Maybe Fenton shoulda taken ’em behind the woodshed more often.

But millions of people loved it.

Rick (Gerald McRaney) was the older of the two, the one with the cowboy hat. He was the theoretical wild card; the street-smart one with the rough edges, and some bad memories from his two tours of duty as a Marine in Vietnam. He’s cynical, a bit of a scrapper, and perfectly content to live his life on his boat, Hole in the Water, and drive his beat-up, big-ass pickup truck. He favored jeans, cowboy hats and cowboy boots.

He was pretty much the complete opposite of his slick-as-spit brother, cutie-pie yuppie A.J. (Andrew Jackson), an idealistic, ambitious former law student and current suit who thinks of himself as refined. He listens to classical music and opera, dresses in expensively tailored suits and ties, enjoys fine wine and french cuisine, and favors classic cars (including at one point a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible). He’s the good one, responsible and successful enough to own waterfront property.

Which is where Hole in the Water is parked… on a trailer. Rick lives on it with his dog, Marlowe.

Forgetting for a moment that, despite the boots and the pickup, only on television would anyone really buy Rick as a tough guy, or that A.J. as actually all that refined, the show had an amusing premise. But the big differences were hardly on the level of, say, Oscar and Felix of The Odd Couple — more on the level of Fred and Barney, if you ask me. Still, some of their bickering was amusing, and McRaney and Parker were affable and easy enough to watch.

The scripts, alas, were for the most part merely serviceable. Not that there weren’t a few interesting shows.

Struggling in its first season, the show was almost canceled, until executive producer and creator Philip DeGuere suggested CBS move it to a Thursday night slot immediately following Magnum, P.I. CBS agreed, and Simon & Simon’s second season kicked off with a two-hour crossover episode with a story that began on Magnum  (already a rating blockbuster) and concluded on Simon & Simon with “Emeralds Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend”. The scheduling change worked, and Simon & Simon became a top ten show for the next several seasons.

In “The Shadow Of Sam Penny,” A.J.’s idol, a famous private eye (Sam “The Man Who Wrote The Book” Penny) hires the Simons to help crack a thirty-year old cold case. It’s a moderately witty homage to Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, but they get extra points for including Elisha Cook Jr. (he played the gunsel in the 1941 film version) in the cast. Robert Lansing, as Sam Penny, returned in “Reunion At Alcatraz,” to enlist the boys’ help once more, this time to track down the only con to ever escape from Alcatraz, over twenty-five years ago. And a few episodes were scripted by various crime novelists, including Ross Thomas, Thomas Perry and Howard Browne, who adapted his own 1948 novel, Thin Air (not the first time that puppy’s been walked around the block).

But for every moderately intelligent script there were plenty of gimmick shows and “very special episodes.” In “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree,” Rick And A.J. head to Boston to track down the family tree, and end up discovering the stories of various Simons brothers throughout American history — all played by McRaney and Parker, of course.

The boys got to play dress up again in “Play It Again, Simon, wherein A.J. tracks down a long-lost manuscript by his favorite detective novelist, allowing the cast to play out a 1940’s detective story. Didn’t they do this on Magnum, too?

Then there’s the almost obligatory-for-the-eighties Vietnam flashback show, “I Thought The War Was Over,” co-written by McRaney himself. War is kinda bad, you know.

And there was “Second-Story Simons,” the James Bond spy spoof (complete with appropriate music) with Rick and A.J. trying to swipe some top secret plans from the Yugoslavian Embassy.

But the absolute nadir has to be the 1983 episode, “The Bare Facts,” where the boys go undercover in a nudist camp. We expect this type of thing from Shell Scott, but don’t ask us to weep one week at the horrors of war, and giggle the next because someone drops their trousers.

Still, the show turned out to be one of the most popular P.I. shows of the eighties. Obviously, there were a lot of people far more charitable than I was to the show, and it was popular enough that at least one made-for-TV movie was released in the nineties, reuniting the cast. By all accounts, it did okay in the ratings.

The show’s creator (and executive producer for its first four seasons) was Philip DeGuere, who got his start writing for such Huggins/Cannell shows as Alias Smith and Jones, Baretta, City of Angels and Magnum P.I., before moving into production in the eighties. His biggest success was undoubtedly Simon and Simon, for which he served as executive director and head writer, although he also was involved production-wise with Whiz Kids, the revamped Twilight Zone and Max Headroom. He also continued to write for television, most recently for JAG, The Dead Zone and Navy NCIS. He also devised a computer system for tracking daily production of a TV series that has become an industry standard, and which may explain some of those rather formulaic scripts for Simon and Simon and Magnum — good premises frequently done in by cookie cutter scripts, if you ask me.

UNDER OATH

  • “First of all, Rick and A.J. Simon were NOT in any way like the shlocky Hardy Boys. There were many shows that were not “fluff,” episodes that dealt with Vietnam and Rick’s two tours of duty there. The Vietnam episodes were much more than “war is bad”. They were about the loss of innocence and security. I see the characters as not unlike most brothers: Close yet apart and willing to die for the other. Secondly, I’ve searched all over the Web for Simon and Simon graphics (Jameson Parker and Gerald McCraney as well) and have come up empty-handed. If you put some pictures on your site then maybe I won’t be so pissed at your summary.”
    — Jane Wanklin

CARS, CARS, CARS

  • American eyes, particularly on television, often seemed to be defined by their cars, and the Simons were no exception. Rick drove a big-ass 1979 Dodge W-150 Macho Power Wagon, with an over-sized front bumper, while A.J., refined gent that he was, favored classic automobiles, most notably a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, and several customized Chevrolet Camaros, from classic models to contemporary models. Several model kits and die cast cars were released at the time.

TELEVISION

  • SIMON AND SIMON | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (1981-88, CBS)
    152 60-minute episodes, 2 in syndication only, 2 2-hour episodes
    Created by Philip DeGuere
    Writers: Philip DeGuere, Bob Shayne, James Crocker, Richard Chapman, Karen Harris, Robert Bielak, Bill Dial, Michael Piller, Donald R. Boyle, Howard Browne, Craig Faustus Buck, Lloyd Ross, Paul Magistretti, Deborah R. Baron, Patricia Rae, E. Jack Kaplan, Tom Porter, Michael Piller, Gary Kemper, Ruel Fischmann, George Geiger, Timothy Burns, Roy Campanella, Don M. Mankiewicz, Lee Maddux, David Brown, Michael Genelin, Ross Thomas, Thomas Perry, Jo Perry, Alan Brennert, Gina Goldman, Paul Robert Coyle, Reed Moran, Darrell Petty, Ramsey King, Terrell Tannen, Diane Saunders, Steve Stoliar, Gary Rosen, Michael Cassutt, Elia Katz, Paul Schiffer, Peter Fox, Michael Genelin, Phil Combest, Tom Ropelewski, Stephen A. Miller, Richard Okie, Andrew Sipes, David Moessinger, Fred McKnight, Rogers Turrentine, Tim Reid, Gerald McRaney, Jerome Lew, David Moessinger, Karen Klein, Art Monterastelli, Sylvia Stoddard, Steven C. Smith, Jim McGrath, Nancy Bond, Bonnie Parker, Norman Hudis
    Directors: Corey Allen, Bruce Bilson, Alan J. Levi, Vincent Mceveety, Bernard Mceveety, Burt Kennedy, Christian I. Nyby Ii, Mike Vejar, Ray Austin, Sigmund Neufeld, Jr., Paul Krasny, Lawrence Doheny, Gary Grillo, Roy Campanella, Dennis Donnelly, Kim Manners, Gerald McRaney, Judith Vogelsang, Bob Sweeney, David Moessinger, Paul Cajero
    Producers: Chas Floyd Johnson, John Stephens
    Executive producer: Philip DeGuere
    A Universal Television Production
    Starring Jameson Parker as A.J. SIMON
    and Gerald McRaney as RICK SIMON
    with Mary Carver as Cecilia Simon
    Also starring Jeannie Wilson as Janet Fowler (Seasons 1-2)
    Eddie Barth as Myron Fowler (Seasons 1-2)
    Tim Reid as Downtown Brown (Seasons 3-6)
    Daphne Maxwell (Reid) as Temple Hill (Seasons 3-6)
    and Joan McMurtrey as Abigail Marsh (Seasons 7-8)
    Scott Murphy as Nixon
    Joan McMurtry
    Guest stars: Tom Selleck, Peter Graves, Markie Post, Henry Darrow, James Whitmore, Jr., Belinda Montgomery, John Schuck, Jerry Stiller, Tom Selleck, Joe Mantegna, Stuart Whitman, Broderick Crawford, Lisa Eilbacher, June Allyson, Dick Butkus, Henry Gibson, Ray Walston, Monte Markham, Guy Stockwell, Gregory Sierra, Tim Considine, Ed Lauter, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Cleavon Little, Robert Englund, Richard Kiel, Donald O’Connor, P.J. Soles, Anne Francis, Robert Lansing, Elisha Cook, Pat Hingle, Cassie Yates, Sybil Danning, Belinda Montgomery, Carol Lawrence, Anthony Newley, John Astin, Kay Lenz, Dennis Franz, Robert Pastorelli, Nicolas Surovy, Britt Ekland, Gretchen Corbett, Tommy Lasorda (as self),David Groh, Larry Gatlin, Ray Walston, Norman Fell, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Elizabeth Ward, Thelma Houston,Kenneth Mars, Charles Cioffi, Alice Ghostley, Kathleen York, Tina Louise, Candy Clark, Shelley Smith, Lew Ayres, Dennis Cole, Clu Gulager, Gary Coleman, Dirk Blocker, Red West, Vanna White, Delta Burke, Olivia D’Abo, Ken Swofford, Jerry Orbach, Marc Singer, Vera Miles, Howard Duff, Kevin McCarthy, Lee Purcell, Cliff De Young

    • SEASON ONE
    • “Details At Eleven” (November 24, 1981)
    • “Love, Christy” (December 1, 1981)
    • “Trapdoors” (December 8, 1981)
    • “A Recipe For Disaster” (December 17, 1981)
    • “The Least Dangerous Game” (December 29, 1981)
    • “The Dead Letter File” (January 5, 1982)
    • “The Hottest Ticket In Town” (January 12, 1982)
    • “Ashes To Ashes, And None Too Soon” (January 16, 1982; nominated for 1982 Edgar, written by Bob Shayne)
    • “Uncivil Servant” (January 27, 1982)
    • “Earth To Stacey” (February 9, 1982)
    • “Double Entry” (March 2, 1982)
    • “Matchmakers” (March 9, 1982)
    • “Tanks For The Memories” (March 16, 1982)
    • SEASON TWO | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Emeralds Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend” (October 5, 1982)
      Conclusion of crossover with Magnum, P.I. episode “Ki’i’s Don’t Lie”, written by Philip DeGuere & Bob Shayne; story by Michael Sloan, Glen A. Larson and Philip Deguere
    • “Mike & Pat” (October 14, 1982)
    • “Guessing Game” (October 21, 1982)
    • “Art For Arthur’s Sake” (October 28, 1982)
    • “The Ten Thousand Dollar Deductible” (November 4, 1982)
    • “Rough Rider Rides Again” (November 18, 1982)
    • “Sometimes Dreams Come True” (December 2, 1982)
    • “The Last Time I Saw Michael” (December 9, 1982)
    • “Fowl Play” (December 16, 1982)
    • “Thin Air” (December 30, 1982; written by Bob Shayne, Philip Deguere & Howard Browne, based on Browne’s novel of the same name)
    • “Murder Between The Lines” (January 6, 1983)
    • “Psyched Out” (January 13, 1983)
    • “Pirate’s Key” (January 20, 1983; two-hour episode)
    • “The Club Murder Vacation” (January 27, 1983)
    • “It’s Only A Game” (February 3, 1983)
    • “Design For Killing” (February 10, 1983)
    • “The List” (February 17, 1983)
    • “What’s In A Gnome?” (February 24, 1983)
    • “The Secret Of The Chrome Eagle” (March 3, 1983)
    • “Room 3502” (March 10, 1983)
    • “Red Dog Blues” (March 24, 1983)
    • “The Skeleton Who Came Out Of The Closet” (March 31, 1983)
    • SEASON THREE |  Buy this season on DVD
    • “Grand Illusion” (September 29, 1983)
    • “D.J., D.O.A.” (October 6, 1983)
    • “I Heard It Was Murder” (October 13, 1983)
    • “Bail Out” (October 20, 1983)
    • “Fly The Alibi Skies” (October 27, 1983)
    • “Shadow Of Sam Penny” (November 3, 1983)
    • “Caught Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea” (November 10, 1983)
    • “The Bare Facts” (November 17, 1983)
    • “Too Much Of A Good Thing” (December 1, 1983)
    • “Betty Grable Flies Again” (December 8, 1983)
    • “Bon Voyage, Alonso” (December 15, 1983)
    • “All Your Favorite Games” (December 22, 1983)
    • SEASON FOUR |  Buy this season on DVD
    • “C’est Simon” (September 27, 1984; 2 hour episode)
    • “A Little Wine With Murder?” (October 4, 1984)
    • “The Dark Side Of The Street” (October 18, 1984)
    • “Manna From Heaven” (October 25, 1984)
    • “What Goes Around Comes Around” (November 1, 1984)
    • “Who Killed The Sixties?” (November 8, 1984)
    • “Break A Leg, Darling” (November 15, 1984)
    • “Almost Completely Out Of Circulation” (November 22, 1984)
    • “Our Fair City” (November 29, 1984)
    • “Deep Cover” (December 6, 1984)
    • “Revolution #9-1/2” (December 13, 1984)
    • “Yes, Virginia There Is A Liberace” (December 20, 1984)
    • “Almost Foolproof” (January 3, 1985)
    • “Enter The Jaguar” (January 17, 1985)
    • “Simon Without Simon, Part 1” (January 24, 1985)
    • “Simon Without Simon, Part 2” (January 31, 1985)
    • SEASON FIVE | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Love And/Or Marriage” (October 3, 1985)
    • “Burden Of The Beast” (October 10, 1985)
    • “The Third Eye” (October 17, 1985)
    • “Enchilada Express” (October 24, 1985)
    • “The Skull Of Nostradamus” (October 31, 1985)
    • “Have You Hugged Your Private Detective Today?” (November 7, 1985)
    • “Reunion At Alcatraz” (November 14, 1985)
    • “Down Home Country Blues” (November 21, 1985)
    • “Quint Is Out” (December 5, 1985)
    • “Walk A Mile In My Hat” (December 12, 1985)
    • “Facets” (December 18, 1985)
    • “Sunrise At Camp Apollo” (January 2, 1986)
    • “The Blue Chip Stomp” (January 16, 1986)
    • “Something For Sarah” (January 23, 1986)
    • “Mobile Home Of The Brave” (January 30, 1986)
    • “Family Forecast” (February 6, 1986)
    • “A Significant Obsession” (February 13, 1986)
    • “For The People” (February 20, 1986)
    • “Full Moon Blues” (March 6, 1986)
    • “Eye Of The Beholder” (March 13, 1986)
    • “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” (March 27, 1986)
    • “Act Five” (April 3, 1986)
    • “The Last Harangue” (April 10, 1986)
    • “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree” (May 1, 1986)
    • SEASON SIX | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Competition – – Who Needs It?” (September 25, 1986)
    • “A.W.O.L.” (October 2, 1986)
    • “Still Phil After All These Years” (October 9, 1986)
    • “The Cop Who Came To Dinner” (October 16, 1986)
    • “Treasure” (October 23, 1986)
    • “The Last Big Break” (October 30, 1986)
    • “The Rookie” (November 6, 1986)
    • “Like Father, Like Son” (November 13, 1986)
    • “The Case Of Don Diablo” (November 20, 1986)
    • “Mrs. Simon & Mrs. Simon” (December 4, 1986)
    • “Just Because I’m Paranoid . . .” (December 11, 1986)
    • “Tonsillitis” (December 18, 1986)
    • “Deep Water Death” (January 8, 1987)
    • “For Old Crime’s Sake” (January 15, 1987)
    • “Opposites Attack” (January 29, 1987)
    • “Judgment Call” (February 5, 1987)
    • “Tanner, P.I. For Hire” (February 12, 1987)
    • “Ancient Echoes” (February 19, 1987)
    • “Second-Story Simons” (February 26, 1987)
    • ” I Thought The War Was Over” (March 5, 1987)
    • “Lost Lady” (March 12, 1987)
    • “Walking Point” (March 26, 1987)
    • SEASON SEVEN | Buy this season on DVD
    • “New Cop In Town” (December 3, 1987)
    • “Desperately Seeking Dacody” (December 10, 1987)
    • “You, Too, Can Be A Detective” (December 17, 1987)
    • “Shadows” (January 7, 1988)
    • “Second Swell” (January 14, 1988)
    • “Forever Hold Your Piece” (January 21, 1988)
    • “Tale Of The Tiger” (January 28, 1988)
    • “Nuevo Salvador” (February 4, 1988)
    • “Bad Betty” (February 11, 1988)
    • “Baja, Humbug” (February 18, 1988)
    • “A Firm Grasp Of Reality” (February 25, 1988)
    • “Ties That Bind” (March 3, 1988)
    • “Little Boy Dead” (March 10, 1988)
    • “Sudden Storm” (March 17, 1988)
    • “Something Special” (March 31, 1988)
    • “May The Road Rise Up” (April 7, 1988)
    • SEASON EIGHT | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Beauty And Deceased” (October 8, 1988)
    • “Simon & Simon And Associates” (October 15, 1988)
    • “Zen And The Art Of The Split Finger Fastball” (October 22, 1988)
    • “The Merry Adventures Of Robert Hood” (October 29, 1988)
    • “Ain’t Gonna Get It From Me, Jack” (November 5, 1988)
    • “Love Song Of Abigail Marsh” (November 12, 1988)
    • “Simon & Simon, Jr.” (November 19, 1988)
    • “Cloak Of Danger” (December 3, 1988)
    • “The Richer They Are The Harder They Fall” (December 10, 1988)
    • “Play It Again, Simon” (December 17, 1988)
    • “First, Let’s Kill All The Lawyers” (December 31, 1988)
    • SHOWN IN SYNDICATION ONLY
    • “Photo Finished”
    • “Simon Says ‘Good-Bye'”
  • SIMON AND SIMON: IN TROUBLE AGAIN
    (aka “Precious Cargo”)
    (1995, CBS)
    Two hour made-for-television movie
    First aired: February 23, 1995
    Based on characters created by Philip DeGuerre
    Written by Rob Hedden
    Directed by John Mcpherson
    Story by Rob And Andy Hedden
    Produced by Richard Brams
    Co-Producer: Rob Hedden
    Executive Producers: Jameson Parker & Gerald Mcraney
    Starring Jameson Parker as A.J. SIMON
    and Gerald Mcraney as RICK SIMON
    Also starring Mary Carver, Jeannie Wilson, Marshall Teague, Michael Macrae, Darleen Carr, Tim Reid, Colby Chester, Anne Lockhart, Richard Sanders, Patrick Ryals, Tony Soper, Buddy McRaney, Delta Burke

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Amanda for her help with this one.

One thought on “Rick and A.J. Simon (Simon & Simon)

  1. Note: Gerald McRany and Jameson Parker are actually the same age, although on the show Rick was the older brother.

    I liked the show well enough. It was better in its earlier seasons IMO when they were working out of cheaper offices and the character of Janet Fowler, an old flame of AJ’s, along with her father Myron as the head of the detective agency that AJ used to work for, was on the show. After a couple of seasons it followed Magnum PI on CBS which helped boost its ratings. They even had a crossover episode with Magnum. Tim Reid (Venus on WKRP) played Lieutenant “Downtown” Brown, a more no-nonsense type of character.

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