Justin Case

Created by Blake Edwards and Jennifer Edwards

In the definitely kooky but only slightly spooky made-for-TV flick Justin Case, which appeared during The Disney Sunday Movie on ABC in 1988, the ghost of murdered private eye, the unfortunately and eponymously named JUSTIN CASE (played by George Carlin, of all people), teams up with Jennifer (played by co-writer Jennifer Edwards, daughter of Blake Edwards), a young unemployed actress/singer/dancer to figure out who killed him.

Why Jennifer? She’s had the bad luck to show up at at the Case Detective Agency to apply for a secretarial position–just as Case is murdered.

At the time, Disney was rather proud of the show’s “special effects” and actually aired a disclaimer featuring Michael Eisner, warning children (and presumably their parents) that there was no such things as ghosts.

They needn’t have bothered. It was all about as terrifying as a glass of warm milk; typical Disney live-action TV fare of the time, sturdy and well-crafted enough to entertain, but hardly anything vivid enough to make much fuss about, never mind get truly excited about. It straddles a thin line, attempting to please both children and and their parents, but never quite makes it for either group.

Even Carlin as the dead dick seems tamped down, the wisecracks few and far between (although the invisible ass-kickings are fun) and the usual P.I. trappings–including the obligatory mysterious femme fatale (aka “The Lady in Black”) who may hold the key to everything–are trotted out more as a matter of course, than with any real little originality or freshness, which is a bit of a surprise, considering it’s Blake Edwards, the man behind Peter Gunn, Richard Diamond et al, who’s calling the shots. Intended allegedly as a pilot, it was never picked up.

Still, the film does have its fans. It’s sort of fun to see the frequently prickly Carlin in such a cuddly role, and Edwards certainly knows his way around slapstick. The romantic comedy bits steam right along and things wrap up nicely for all concerned.

Except for Case, of course, who’s still dead.

Pleasant, but hardly essential.


    (1988, Disney Television/ABC)
    Two hours
    Story by Jennifer Edwards, Blake Edward
    Screenplay by Blake Edwards
    Directed by Blake Edwards
    Produced by Tony AdamsExecutive producer: Blake EdwardsOriginal Music by Henry ManciniStarring George Carlin as JUSTIN CASEand Molly Hagan as Jennifer SpaldingAlso starring Timothy Stack, Kevin McClarnon, Douglas Sills, Gordon Jump, Paul Sand, Valerie Wildman, Todd Susman,Rod McCary, Philippe Denham, Richard McGonagle, Jay Thomas


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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