Created by Ron Clark and Tim Conway
Down these mean streets a man must stumble, bumble and fumble. And that man is... ACE CRAWFORD, PRIVATE EYE.
Not the first -- and certainly not the last -- time that television offered a parody of the traditional private eye, poking gentle fun at the genre's conventions. But at least this time it was intentional.
Sometimes it's hard to tell.
Tim Conway played Ace in this short-lived series as your typical hard-boiled dick, scrupulously honest. Ace seemed to have it all -- adoring women, a faithful sidekick who idolized him and a beautiful girlfriend madly in love with him. And a reputation for being one of the best P.I.s in town. He even came adorned with the obligatory trenchcoat and fedora. Ace lacked only one thing.
You see, Ace was a total incompetent, a bungler and stumblebum who left nothing but disaster in his wake. He was completely inept, and he owed all his success to pure dumb luck and unbelievable coincidences. And nobody seemed to notice. Nobody except for his long-suffering foil, Police Lieutenant Fanning.
Like any TV P.I. worth his salt, Ace had a hangout, somewhere he and his sometime-partner, the intellectually compatible Toomey, a full-time CPA, could wet their whistles and discuss their cases at the end of a long day. For Ace, that place was "The Shanty," a waterfront dive run by a midget called Inch (played by veteran actor Billy Barty). Ace's sweethart, Luana, worked as a singer there with her blind accompanist Mello (jazz great Bill Henderson).
But only five episodes were ever aired. Not that the show was that bad, but after the success of Get Smart and the Pink Panther movies, the idea of a bumbling crimefighter who always landed on his feet was no longer as unique as it must have seemed on the drawing board.
Chalk up yet another failure for the affable Conway, an accomplished comedian who couldn't seem to get a hit on his own.
Unlikely Private Eyes (No, Really...)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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