Quincy, M.E. (also called Quincy) is an American medical mystery television series from Universal Studios that aired from October 3, 1976, to September 5, 1983, on NBC. It stars Jack Klugman in the title role, a Los Angeles County medical examiner.
Inspired by the book Where Death Delights by Marshall Houts, a former FBI agent, the show also resembled the earlier Canadian television series Wojeck, broadcast by CBC Television.John Vernon, who played the Wojeck title role, later guest starred in the third-season episode "Requiem For The Living". Quincy's character is loosely modelled on Los Angeles' "Coroner to the Stars" Thomas Noguchi.
The first half of the first season of Quincy was broadcast as 90-minute telefilms as part of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie rotation in the fall of 1976 alongside Columbo, McCloud, and McMillan (formerly McMillan & Wife). The series proved popular enough that midway through the 1976–1977 season, Quincy was spun off into its own weekly one-hour series. The Mystery Movie format was discontinued in the spring of 1977.
In 1978, writers Tony Lawrence and Lou Shaw received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the second-season episode "...The Thighbone's Connected to the Knee Bone..." (originally aired February 11, 1977). Many of the episodes used the same actors for different roles in various episodes. Using a small "pool" of actors was a common production trait of many Glen A. Larson TV programs. Before becoming a regular cast member as Quincy's girlfriend-become-wife Dr. Emily Hanover in the 1982-1983 season, Anita Gillette had portrayed Quincy's deceased first wife Helen Quincy in a flashback in a 1979 episode "Promises to Keep".
The series starred Jack Klugman as Dr. Quincy, a strong-willed, very principled Medical Examiner (forensic pathologist) for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, working to ascertain facts about and reasons for possible suspicious deaths. His colleagues, friends and wife all address him by his surname or the shortened "Quince". (The character's first name was never fully given, although in the third-season episode "Accomplice to Murder" his name is shown on a business card as "R. Quincy" and in early episodes the name "Dr R. Quincy" appears on his door.)
In his investigations, Quincy frequently comes into conflict with his boss, Dr. Robert Asten (John S. Ragin), and the police, in particular, LAPD Homicide Lieutenant Frank Monahan (Garry Walberg). Each have their own (often flawed) ideas about what's going on and about Quincy's deductions. Quincy is assisted by his faithful lab assistant, Sam Fujiyama (Robert Ito).
It is revealed in the episode "The Last of Leadbottom" Quincy is a retired Captain in the US Navy and remains in the Naval Reserve. In the episode "Crib Job", Quincy notes he originally wanted to be a railroad engineer, after revealing a number of facts about the dangers of the occupation. A well-liked man, Quincy lives on a sailboat in a permanent boat slip in Marina Del Rey, California and frequents Danny's, a restaurant at the marina owned by his friend Danny Tovo (Val Bisoglio).
Quincy is very popular with women. He was married once before but lost his wife Helen to cancer. In the Mystery Movie installments and earliest hour-long episodes, Quincy has a regular girlfriend called Lee (Lynette Mettey) who sometimes accompanies him on his cases (such as in "...The Thighbone's Connected to the Knee Bone..."). This is his only steady relationship until near the end of the seventh season, when Quincy remarries (Dr. Emily Hanover, played by Anita Gillette who had previously portrayed Helen in a flashback) and sells the sailboat in the episode "Quincy's Wedding". Quincy occasionally drives an antique car (which is shown in Season 4, Episode 1 to be an antique Packard Town Car), but friends sometimes ask why he drives his "work vehicle" (the county coroner's hearse, an AMC Matador Station Wagon (reg plate: 999853) in the first 2 seasons and a late 1970's Ford LTD Station Wagon for the rest of the series) on his day off. Quincy claims that his car is off being repaired.
Early seasons' episodes contained elements of mystery and whodunit and focused on criminal investigation; a typical episode would find Quincy determining the real murderer in a crime or the real cause of an unusual poisoning case. Later seasons' episodes began to introduce themes of social responsibility; Quincy would find himself involved with a police investigation that reveals situations such as a disreputable plastic surgeon and the reasons his poor surgeries are not stopped, flaws in drunk driving laws, problems caused by punk rock, airline safety issues, dumping of hazardous waste, the proliferation of handguns, Tourette's syndrome, orphan drugs and anorexia among others.
Quincy, M.E. was one of the first dramatic series to use a format like this to further a social agenda. Klugman himself even came to testify before the US Congress about some of these issues, (such as orphan drugs in 1982) describing what he had learned about a difficult or complex social concern as a result of its use in one of the show's episodes.
In 2008, Klugman sued NBC, asserting that the network had concealed profits from the show which were owed to him.
While many detective series had depicted rudimentary physical evidence analysis such as fingerprints and bullet comparisons, Quincy M.E. was the first to regularly present the in-depth forensic investigations which would be the hallmark of later detective shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs, NCIS, Diagnosis Murder, Crossing Jordan, inter alia. Klugman himself made guest appearances on the latter two series as, respectively, Dr. Jeff Everden and Det. Harry Trumble, and Dr. Leo Gelber.
A total of 148 episodes were made. Jack Klugman appeared in 147. In the episode "Has Anybody Here Seen Quincy?", Dr. Asten talks to Quincy twice on the phone, but Quincy's voice is not heard and he is not seen on screen. The reason Klugman did not take part in the episode is because he disliked the script written by Michael Sloan and Glen A. Larson for the episode; a body brought into the morgue turns out to still be alive. Although these cases do happen in real life, Klugman thought it laughable that a medical examiner of Quincy's expertise would fail to notice it.
Conversely, Klugman is the only regular cast member who does appear in the final episode: "The Cutting Edge" was a backdoor pilot for a proposed series about a revolutionary new clinic (it didn't sell).
Anita Gillette portrayed both of Quincy's wives. Until marrying Dr. Emily Hanover near the end of the series, Quincy had been a widower, having lost his first wife, Helen, before the events of the series. Anita Gillette was cast as the late Helen Quincy for the flashback scenes in the episode, "Promises to Keep", before being hired as Emily. The two unrelated characters' identical appearance was never mentioned on-screen.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released Seasons 1 and 2 of Quincy, M.E. on DVD in regions 1, 2 and 4. Season 3 was released in Region 1 on June 2, 2009, four years after the release of Seasons 1 and 2.
In June 2011, Madman Entertainment announced that it had acquired the distribution rights to the series in Region 4. They have subsequently released seasons 3 - 5 on DVD.
On September 7, 2012, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1. They have subsequently released seasons 4 - 7 on DVD. The eighth and final season will be released on March 10, 2015.
The DVDs separate the 90-minute and 60-minute episodes into first and second seasons, although they aired during the same broadcast season (1976-1977). Traditionally, the 1977-1978 was considered the second season, etc.
In 2013, acquired the rights to the series in Region 2. They released season 3 on March 4, 2013.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release dates|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Seasons 1 & 2||17||June 7, 2005||December 5, 2005||July 20, 2006|
|Season 3||20||June 2, 2009||March 4, 2013||July 20, 2011|
|Season 4||23||December 18, 2012||TBA||November 16, 2011|
|Season 5||22||March 19, 2013||TBA||March 21, 2012|
|Season 6||18||July 9, 2013||TBA||TBA|
|Season 7||24||November 11, 2014||TBA||TBA|
|Season 8||24||March 10, 2015||TBA|
United States Quincy, M.E. currently airs on the ME TV network daily at 10am Central Time
The series was first broadcast nationally in the United Kingdom in 1977 on the ITV network (albeit at differing times due to the then regional structure of the network). Repeats of the full series were initially shown on BBC1 on afternoons in the early 1990s and it had frequently been running daily since the late 1990s on ITV and more recently ITV3 until early 2010, in various time slots (usually 8am, 2pm, and early morning). The show is currently showing on Universal Channel, with episodes on Sunday morning, and one episode at 8am (repeating at 4pm and 5am the following morning) through the week.
13 episodes were first aired from 1981 through 1983 by the public broadcaster ARD. Then in the early 1990s, 133 episodes were aired by the commercial television station RTL. Since April 2010 kabel eins has aired the first five seasons on weekdays. At the moment, the episodes are aired by the RTL partner station RTL Nitro. All episodes shown on German TV are dubbed into German.
The series appeared in Italy in the mid-Eighties on the TV channel Canale 5. The first four episodes have never been dubbed into Italian, therefore they have never been aired on TV and can only be found (with subtitles) in DVDs. Moreover, many episodes were shortened to about 50 minutes for the Italian version.