David Ross (The Outsider)

Created by Roy Huggins

By all accounts, The Outsider was an above-average 1967 made-for-television movie, which served as a pilot for an equally well-regarded but short-lived TV series the following year. Created by Roy Huggins, a man who knew a thing or two about P.I. shows, it certainly had potential, and I’m pleased to report that, from the handful of complete episodes and snippets of several others which have occasionally resurfaced on You Tube, that it demands further investigation.

It featured the adventures of low-rent ex-con turned resigned, wistful private eye DAVID ROSS played by Darren McGavin, but it’s the word “loser” that immediately springs to mind–it’s a far cry from the brash, cocksure Mike Hammer he’d played years earlier.

Often looking like he’d just rolled out of bed (and that he’d possibly slept in his clothes), Ross lived and worked out of an equally rumpled apartment in a rundown building, drove a beat-up car, and was often beat up himself in the course of his cases–when he wasn’t dodging creditors. Not that life had never been particularly kind to Ross anyway.

Orphaned at an early age, a high-school dropout, he eventually ended up in prison on a trumped up murder charge. Even when he was released, after six years in the slammer, the cops continued to harass him. Ross had discovered that the world wasn’t exactly a friendly place for those on the “outside,” and so he set out to help them, hence the name of the show. His “outsider” status allowed him to empathize with other people, and he was an extremely thorough and dedicated detective, and would often take on low-paying cases.

One of the first of the sensitive, compassionate eyes to be featured on television (he didn’t even carry a gun!), Ross echoed literary eyes of the era such as Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer and Thomas Dewey’s Mac, and anticipated the world-class pained exasperation of both Harry O and Jim Rockford.

Although The Outsider never truly caught on (it was cancelled after one season), it bore more than a few similarities with both those shows, particularly the latter (which Huggins co-created seven years later). And as in most of Huggins series, his 1949 novel The Double Take, which had featured Stuart Bailey of 77 Sunset Strip fame, was adapted as an episode.

From what I’ve seen, I want to see more. Unfortunately, there’s been no official (ie: legal) release of the show on DVD, and it doesn’t seem to be streaming anywhere (except–maybe–on You Tube) but copies on the collector-to-collector market are apparently easy to find.

And here’s an interesting bit of trivia: Rockford kept his gun in the cookie jar, Ross kept his phone in the fridge. Is this some sort of Huggins’ trademark?


    (November 21, 1967, NBC)
    120 minute made-for-TV movie/pilot
    Written by Roy Huggins
    Directed by Michael Ritchie
    Produced by Roy Huggins
    Music: Pete Rugolo
    Starring Darren McGavin as DAVID ROSS
    Also starring Edmund O’Brien, Sean Garrison, Shirley Knight, Nancy Malone, Ossie Davis, Ann Southern, Joseph Wiseman, Audrey Totter, Anna Hagan, Kent McCord
    (1968-69, NBC)
    26 60-minute episodes
    Created by Roy Huggins
    Writers: Roy Huggins, Adrian Joyce, Frank Fenton, Bernard C. Schoefeld,
    Directors: Michael Ritchie
    Producer: Gene Levitt
    Executive Producer: Roy Huggins
    A Public Arts Production in association with Universal Television
    Starring Darren McGavin as DAVID ROSS
    Guest Stars: Warren Stevens, Kathie Browne, Timothy Carey, Farley Granger, Melodie Johnson, Steve Franken, Alan Joseph, Booth Colman, Claude Akins, Marsha Hunt, Diane Shalet, Lili Valenty, Than Wyenn, Lousie Latham, Varne Breckenridge, Keye Luke, Kate Woodville, Don Knight, Don Stroud, Brenda Scott, Simon Oakland, Jeanne Cooper, Willi Koopman, Robert H. Harris, Pat Harrington, Bonnie Beecher, Sandra Smith, Conlan Carter, Dana Elcar, Robert Donner, John Ragin, Betty Field, Julie Adams, Marie Windsor, James Edwards, Ena Hartmann, Juanita Moore, Myron Healy, Bobo Lewis, Marc Cavell, Marilyn Maxwell, Jackie Coogan, Whitney Blake, Ted Knight, Susan Oliver, Russell Thorson, Kent McCord. Joan Blondell, Mariette Hartley, Rick Jason, Jaye P. Morgan, Phil Pine, StanleyAdams, Mickey Manners, Pippa Scott, Estelle Winwood, Walter Brooke, Larry Linville, Grace Lee Whitney, Aldo Ray, Gail Kobe, George Murdock, Tony Russell, Virginia Mayo, Thomas Gomez, Ahna Capri, Roger Perry, Bert Freed, Carrie Snodgress, Michael Strong, Fred Williamson, Judd Laurence, Alice Backes, Paul Stewart, Joan Huntington, Berkeley Harris, Herb Voland, Vic Tayback, Ed Hashim, Bruce Glover, Pepe Callahan. Geraldine Brooks, Lloyd Bochner, Ken Tobey, Warren Kemmerling, Rege Cordic, James Gregory, Susan OíConnell, Jeffrey Lynn, Greg Mullavey, Ken OíBrien. Lois Nettleton, William Windom, John Doucette, Kathie Browne, Henry Jones, Shelly Novack, Walter Burke, Ruth McDevitt, Arch Johnson.

    • “For Members Only” (September 18, 1968)
    • “What Flowers Daisies Are” (September 25, 1968)
    • “Along Came a Spider” (October 2, 1968)
    • “A Wide Place in the Road” (October 9, 1968)
    • “As Cold as Ashes” (October 16, 1968)
    • “A Time to Run” (October 30, 1968)
    • “Love is Under L” (November 6, 1968)
    • “The Twenty-thousand Dollar Carrot” (November 13, 1968)
    • “One Long Stemmed American Beauty” (November 20, 1968)
    • “I Can’t Hear You Scream” (November 27, 1968)
    • “Tell It Like It Was–and You’re Dead” (December 4, 1968)
    • “The Land of the Fox” (December 18, 1968)
    • “There was a Little Girl” (December 25, 1968)
    • “The Girl from Missouri” (January 8, 1969)
    • “The Secret of Mareno Bay” (January 15, 1969)
    • “The Old School Tie” (January 22, 1969)
    • “A Bowl of Cherries” (January 29, 1969)
    • “Behind God’s Back” (February 5, 1969)
    • “Take the Key and Lock Him Up” (February 12, 1969)
    • “The Flip Side” (February 26, 1969)
    • “Handle with Care” (March 5, 1969)
    • “All the Social Graces” (March 12, 1969)
    • “A Lot of Muscle” (March 26, 1969)
    • “Periwinkle Blue” (April 2, 1969)
    • “Service for One” (April 9, 1969)
    • “Through a Stained Glass Window” (April 12, 1969)
      NOTE: Four of the episodes were repackaged to form two TV movies for syndication: “Anatomy of a Crime” (comprising “Tell It Like It Was…and You’re Dead” & “There Was a Little Girl”) and “The 48 Hour Mile” (comprising “The Flip Side” and “Service for One”)




Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Ted Fitzgerald for his help on this one, and Jeff for the prod.

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