Frank McBride & Peterson T. “Pete” Ryan (Switch)

Created by Alan Godfrey & Glen A. Larson

In 1975, CBS tried to cash in on the then-white hot success of The Sting, the 1973 big screen Newman/Redford con man smasheroo, with Switch.

The show’s pilot, a 90-minute made-for-TV movie, was called “Las Vegas Roundabout,” and aired in March 1975, and quickly set up the series. The always affable Eddie Albert (of Green Acres fame) was FRANK McBRIDE, a retired LAPD bunco squad cop who opens up a Las Vegas private detective agency with ex-con con man PETE RYAN (Robert Wagner), a man he had relentlessly pursued as a police officer, as a partner. Their speciality was — what else? — fraud. And they weren’t above conning the con artists.

The cast was rounded out with Charlie Callas as Malcolm Argos, a restaurant/bar owner and another allegedly reformed grifter, and a pre-Cagney Sharon Gless as Maggie Philbin, Mac and Pete’s secretary, receptionist and sometime assistant in their various hustles.

The show had some great scams, particularly in the early episodes. Unfortunately, while the show put up a flash front in the first season, it turned out to be a sucker’s roll. Although it dragged on for two more seasons, the plots became increasingly predictable, the elaborate scams were watered down, and character traits in the supporting cast that were once moderately amusing were milked until they turned sour–think Charlie Callas in your face–all the time!

It was no Rockford, but it was fun while it lasted.

DOES THIS SMELL FUNNY TO YOU?

  • Apparently, co-creator Glen A. Larson, an Edgar-winning writer who had a hand in everything from Battlestar Galactica and The Six Million Dollar Man to Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider, had a reputation for occasionally plagiarizing other people’s scripts and “retooling” them for his own shows, changing character names and just enough minor details to pass (Harlan Ellison once referred to him as “Glen A. Larceny”). James Garner related in his memoir, The Garner Files, how he himself had filed a suit with the Writer’s Guild, accusing Larson of essentially ripping off a Rockford Files script “This Case is Closed” (October 18, 1974) for the Switch episode “Death by Resurrection” ( (December 2, 1975). Garner won, and the credits for the episode were changed, but Larson supposedly continued to “borrow” other writer’s work.

TELEVISION

  • LAS VEGAS ROUNDABOUT 
    (1975, CBS)
    90-minute pilot
    Premiere: March 21, 1975)
    Teleplay by Alan Godfrey and Glen A. Larson
    Directed by Allen Baron and Robert Day
    Original music by Stu Phillips
    Produced by Glen A. Larson
    Starring Eddie Albert as FRANK McBRIDE
    and Robert Wagner as PETERSON T. RYAN
    With Sharon Gless as Maggie Philbin
    and Charlie Callas as Malcolm Argos
    Also starring Charles Durning, Ken Swofford, Alan Manson, Jaclyn Smith, Greg Mullavy, Marc Lawrence, Anne Schedeen
  • SWITCH
    (1975-78, CBS)
    Series
    70 60-minute episodes
    A Glen A. Larson/Universal TV Production
    Created by Alan Godfrey and Glen A. Larson
    Writers: Donald P. Bellisario, Glen A. Larson, Michael Sloan
    Story editor: David Chase
    Directors: Edward M. Abroms, Noel Black, Phil Bondelli, Walter Doniger, David Friedkin, Gordon Hessler, Douglas Heyes, Bruce Kessler, Alf Kjellin, Paul Krasny, Glen A. Larson, Jerry London, Sigmund Neufeld Jr., John Newland, Leo Penn, John Peyser, Sutton Roley, E.W. Swackhamer
    Original Music by James Di Pasquale, Stu Phillips
    Theme by Glen A. Larson?
    Executive producers: Glen A. Larson, Jon Epstein, Matthew Rapf
    Producers: Gene R. Kearney, Jack Laird, Paul Playdon, Leigh Vance
    Associate producer: Mort Zarcoff
    Starring Eddie Albert as FRANK McBRIDE
    and Robert Wagner as PETERSON T. RYAN
    With Sharon Gless as Maggie Philbin
    Charlie Callas as Malcolm Argos
    and Richard X. Slattery as Lt. Modeer
    Ken Swofford as Lt. Griffin
    William Bryant as Lt. Shilton
    James Hong as Wang
    and Mindi Miller as Revel
    Guest stars: Greg Mullavy, Keir Dullea, Julie Sommars, Jaclyn Smith, Anne Archer, Joan Collins, John Dehner, Gordon Jump, Ida Lupino, Granville Van Dusen, Richard Kiel, Henry Silva, Marc Lawrence, Ricardo Montalban, Cheryl Ladd, Larry Storch, Dionne Warwick, Margot Kidder, Wayne Newton, Sonny Bono, Howard Hesseman, Robert Loggia, Linda Gray, Lynda Day George, Mike Mazurki, Kim Cattrall, Susan Anton, Natalie Wood, Don Baker, Frank Campanella, Simon Oakland, Kathryn Leigh Scott
    • SEASON ONE | Buy this DVD
    • “The James Caan Con” (September 9, 1975)
    • “The Late Show Murders” (September 16, 1975)
    • “The Old DIamond Game” (September 23, 1975)
    • “Stung from Beyond” (September 30, 1975)
    • “The Deadly Missiles Caper” (October 7, 1975)
    • “The Man Who Couldn’t Lose” (October 14, 1975)
    • “Death Heist” (October 21, 1975)
    • “The Body at the Bottom” (November 4, 1975)
    • “The Cruise Ship Murders” (November 11, 1975)
    • “Kiss of Death” (November 25, 1975)
    • “Death by Resurrection” (December 2, 1975)
    • “The Cold War Con” (December , 1975)
    • “Through the Past Deadly” (December 16, 1975)
    • “Mistresses, Murder and Millions” (December 23, 1975)
    • “The Walking Bomb” (January 6, 1976)
    • “Ain’t Nobody Here Named Barney” (January 13, 1976)
    • “Come Die with Me” (January 27, 1976)
    • “One of Our Zeppelins Is Missing” (February 10, 1976)
    • “Before the Holocaust” (February 17, 1976)
    • “Big Deal in Paradise” (February 24, 1976)
    • “The Case of the Purloined Case” (March 2, 1976)
    • “The Girl on the Golden Strip” (March 16, 1976)
    • “Round Up the Usual Suspects” (March 23, 1976)
    • “Death Squad” (April 6, 1976)
    • SEASON TWO | Buy this DVD
    • The Pirates of Tin Pan Alley” (September 21, 1976)
    • “The Twelfth Commandment” (September 28, 1976)
    • “Fleece of Snow” (October 5, 1976)
    • “The Argonaut Special” (October 12, 1976)
    • “The Things That Belong to Mickey Costello” (October 19, 1976)
    • “Whatever Happened to Carol Harmony?” (October 26, 1976)
    • “Quicker Than the Eye” (November 9, 1976)
    • “Gaffing the Skim” (November 16, 1976)
    • “The Lady from Liechtenstein, Part One” (November 23, 1976)
    • “The Lady from Liechtenstein, Part Two” (November 30, 1976)
    • “Switch Hitter” (December , 1976)
    • “Maggie’s Hero” (December , 1976)
    • “The Hundred Thousand Ruble Rumble” (December , 1976)
    • “Portraits of Death” (January 4, 1977)
    • “The Snitch” (January 16, 1977)
    • “Eyewitness” (January 23, 1977)
    • “Camera Angles” (January 30, 1977)
    • “Butterfly Mourning” (February 6, 1977)
    • “The Four Horsemen” (February 13, 1977)
    • “Eden’s Gate” (February 20, 1977)
    • “The Hemline Heist” (February 27, 1977)
    • “Three for the Money” (March 13, 1977)
    • “Two on the Run” (March 27, 1977)
    • “Heritage of Death” (April 3, 1977)
    • SEASON THREE | Buy this DVD
    • “Net Loss” (September 23, 1977)
    • “Downshift” (September 30, 1977)
    • “Fade Out” (October 14, 1977)
    • “Legend of the Macunas, Part One” (October 21, 1977)
    • “Legend of the Macunas, Part Two” (October 21, 1977)
    • “Dancer” (December 5, 1977)
    • “Go for Broke” (December 12, 1977)
    • “Lady of the Deep” (December 19, 1977)
    • “Thirty Thousand Witnesses” (December 26, 1977)
    • “Dangerous Curves” (January 2, 1978)
    • “The Tong” (January 9, 1978)
    • “Who Killed Lila Craig?” (January 16, 1978)
    • “The Cage” (June 25, 1978)
    • “Coronado Circle” (July 2, 1978)
    • “Blue Crusaders Reunion” (July 9, 1978)
    • “Stolen Island” (July 16, 1978; AKA “Death Island”)
    • “Play-off” (July 23, 1978)
    • “Mexican Standoff” (July 30, 1978)
    • “Three Blond Mice” (August 6, 1978)
    • “The Siege at the Bouziki Bar” (August 13, 1978)
    • “Formula for Murder” (August 20, 1978)
    • “Photo Finish” (unaired)

NOVELIZATIONS

  • Switch (1976, by Mike Jahn; based on the pilot)Buy this book
  • Switch #2: Round Up the Usual Suspects (1976, by Mike Jahn) Buy this book

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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