Harry McGraw
Created by Peter S. Fischer

HARRY McGRAW first showed up as a recurring character on Murder, She Wrote, a slightly shady working class gumshoe from Boston who earned the respect of Cabot cove's very own mystery novelist/amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) for his detective skills and his not-quite-hidden heart of gold. As played by the late, great Jerry Orbach (later of Law & Order fame), McGraw was popular enough to eventually be offered his own series, The Law and Harry McGraw, which premiered in 1987.

Harry's character was pretty well-established after his appearances on Murder, She Wrote. He was usually short of cash, drove a klunker, and often had to resort to using his young niece E.J. as his receptionist/research assistant. A lot of his money problems could be traced to his passions: pool, poker, ponies, the Red Sox, the Bruins, and a joint called Gilhooleys. He was a good detective, though he wasn't above cutting corners (he once "kinda temporarily lost his license"). He was proud of his Irish working class roots, and defiantly rough around the edges. The producers needed someone for his character to bounce off against.

Enter Barbara Babcock as Ellie Maginnis, a criminal lawyer and coincidentally a rather attractive widow occasionally in need of a private investigator. Fortunately, the offices of Maginnis & Maginnis (her late husband was also an attorney) were just across the hall from Harry's. They met "cute" in the two-hour pilot when Maginnis hired Harry to look into a peculiar murder case in which she was defending the accused.

Maginnis was definitely a class act, all Boston blueblood refinement, professionalism and grace, a definite contrast to down-at-his-heels McGraw. Yet the two displayed an agreeable, easy-going chemistry, and the humourous clashes between the two were well-drawn and believable. Imagine Moonlighting with grown-up characters.

Midway through the season, Maginnis was given a job with the District Attorney's office. Her first assignment, though, was a case in which Harry was doing the investigating for the defense. Alas, it wasn't enough to keep the show going for more than a year. Harry was last seen working with Jessica once again on Murder, She Wrote. No word on what happened to Ellie...


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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