Diagnosis Murder (1993–2001)
|Genre||Crime, Drama, Mystery|
|Content Rating||TV-PG (TV-PG)|
|Awards||Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy5 nominations total|
|Company||Dean Hargrove Productions, Fred Silverman Company, Viacom Productions|
Diagnosis Murder is an American action-comedy-mystery-medical crime drama television series starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son Steve, a homicide detective played by Van Dyke's real-life son Barry. The series began as a spin-off of Jake and the Fatman (Dr. Mark Sloan made his first appearance in episode 4.19 "It Never Entered My Mind"), became a series of three television films, and then a weekly television series that debuted on CBS on October 29, 1993. Joyce Burditt wrote the episode in Jake and the Fatman and is listed here as the creator of the spin off series.
The series struggled at first and was almost canceled at the end of the second season, but it returned as a midseason replacement in the third season, and was regularly renewed thereafter. 178 episodes were made and aired in the show's eight seasons on the CBS network in the United States and two more TV movies aired after the series' cancellation on May 11, 2001. The show was produced by The Fred Silverman Company and Dean Hargrove Productions in association with Viacom Productions and is currently distributed by CBS Television Distribution.
In the Jake and the Fatman episode, Dr. Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons. Dr. Amanda Bentley is played by Cynthia Gibb in the TV movies and, finally, by Victoria Rowell in the TV series. Stephen Caffrey played Dr. Jack Parker in the movies, a role that went to Scott Baio as Dr. Jack Stewart in the weekly series (first two seasons).
The first two TV movies were shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the third was shot in Denver, Colorado. The first 8 episodes of the series were also shot (and set) in Denver, before quickly (and without explanation) shifting to Los Angeles for the remainder of the show's run. Since 1997, reruns of the show have been shown in syndication and on Freeform (formerly ABC Family and originally CBN Satellite Service), Ion Television (formerly PAX-TV), Hallmark Channel, 10 Bold, CBS Action and MeTV.
The plot centered around Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke), a former United States Army doctor who served in a MASH unit. After his service ended, Dr. Sloan became a renowned physician and consults with the local police, and can't resist a good mystery or a friend in need. Cases often involved his son, Detective Steve Sloan (Barry Van Dyke), and the elder Sloan's friend Norman Briggs (Michael Tucci in seasons in 1–4), a hospital administrator. Also assisting Dr. Sloan are his colleagues, medical examiner/pathology Dr. Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio in the first two seasons), who is later replaced by a new resident, Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter from season 3 onward).
Diagnosis: Murder had a total of eight seasons and 178 episodes which were broadcast on CBS between 1993 and 2001.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||March 20, 1991|
|Movies 1&2||January 5, 1992||May 1, 1992|
|Movie 3||February 13, 1993|
|1||19||October 29, 1993||May 13, 1994|
|2||22||September 16, 1994||May 5, 1995|
|3||18||December 8, 1995||May 3, 1996|
|4||26||September 19, 1996||May 8, 1997|
|5||25||September 18, 1997||May 14, 1998|
|6||22||September 24, 1998||May 13, 1999|
|7||24||September 23, 1999||May 11, 2000|
|8||22||October 12, 2000||May 11, 2001|
|Movies 4&5||February 6, 2002||April 26, 2002|
This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.December 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)(
|Movies (1992–93)||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||Movies (2002)|
|Mark Sloan||Dick Van Dyke||Doctor||Main|
|Amanda Bentley||Cynthia Gibb||Doctor||Main|
|Jack Parker||Stephen Caffrey||Doctor||Main|
|Steve Sloan||Barry Van Dyke||Police detective/lieutenant||Main|
|Jack Stewart||Scott Baio||Doctor||Main|
|Norman Briggs||Michael Tucci||Administrator||Main|
|Delores Mitchell||Delores Hall||Secretary||Main|
|Jesse Travis||Charlie Schlatter||Doctor||Main|
- Dr. Mark Sloan (played by Dick Van Dyke), Former army doctor and Chief of Internal Medicine at Community General Hospital, and protagonist of the series. Son of a police officer and father of another, in whose cases he often gets involved. He is a medical consultant to the LAPD. Dick Van Dyke was considered for the lead role after the positive reviews he received from his dramatic role in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy (although the character he played in the movie was villain and very different from the role of Mark Sloan). In the pilot the character had interests in tap dance and clarinet playing; however, these were considered distracting and were toned down and eventually removed from the character as the series developed.
- Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan (played by Barry Van Dyke), a detective sergeant (later lieutenant from season 2 onward) in the Robbery/Homicide Division of the LAPD and Dr. Mark Sloan's son. After an earthquake destroyed his apartment, he lived in a separate apartment in his father's beach house in Malibu, California. Steve often uses his "patented" dive to apprehend criminals.
- Dr. Amanda Bentley (played by Cynthia Gibb in the TV Movies set before the series), later Bentley-Livingston (played there by Victoria Rowell), resident Pathology at Community General Hospital and assistant County Medical Examiner, who is also Dr. Mark Sloan's double act and medical partner, involving in each of Mark's & Steve's cases, after the accident. As a favorable character of the show, she also dated Jack and was later Jesse's best friend. During the series, she married a military man, and had a son named C.J. Depending on the episode, she divorced him or he was killed in an airplane crash. Later in the series, she adopted another boy, Deon.
- Dr. Jack Stewart (played by Stephen Caffrey in the TV movies, Scott Baio in the series from 1993 to 1995, seasons 1–2), a doctor at Community General Hospital and Steve's best friend, whom he often helped in his cases. He left to open his own family medicine in Colorado. Jack Stewart does reappear in a couple of Lee Goldberg's Diagnosis Murder books, "The Silent Partner" and "The Last Word". In the first three TV Movies his name was Jack Parker.
- Dr. Jesse Travis (played by Charlie Schlatter, 1995–2001, seasons 3–8), a residency and handsome student at Community General Hospital who Mark took under his wing and who became best friends with Amanda. Another favorable/list of breakout characters of the series, he often got involved in Mark and Steve's cases, with good intentions but not always good results. In the crossover double episode "Murder Two", he himself became the prime suspect of a rival doctor's killing, hence he badgered Mark to call his old friend Ben Matlock (played by Dick's real-life best friend Andy Griffith) for help. The hospital staff thought he wrote the tell-all book "Big City Hospital" as Dr. Anonymous but later found out it was written by someone else. Jason Tucker was a character in the book who sounded exactly like Jesse, which is why the hospital staff thought it was him.
- Norman Briggs (played by Michael Tucci, 1993–1997, seasons 1–4), business administration at Community General Hospital and a close friend of Dr. Mark Sloan, even though he is often exasperated by him.
- Delores Mitchell (played by Delores Hall, 1993–1995, seasons 1–2), Dr. Sloan's lively secretary.
Notable guest stars
One unique aspect of the series was that it frequently appropriated characters from various classic television series, or featured veteran actors playing characters inspired by or similar to their classic roles.
- Rob Petrie (played by Van Dyke himself in The Dick Van Dyke Show) features in a cameo in the episode "Obsession, Part 2" where Dr. Sloan is in a radio station, and walks past a studio where (through use of CGI), Rob is trying his hand at radio Disc jockey. The footage of Rob as a DJ is taken from the Dick Van Dyke Show episode "One Hundred Terrible Hours". This scene moves Diagnosis: Murder into the realm of fantasy as Petrie is shown in black and white (with Sloan visible in a color insert behind him), after which Sloan breaks the fourth wall and looks at the audience before the story continues.
- Mike Connors reprised his titular character of Mannix in the season 4 episode "Hard-Boiled Murder." The episode's story was a sequel to the Mannix episode "Little Girl Lost."
- Andy Griffith reprised his titular role of Ben Matlock from Dean Hargrove's Matlock series in Season 4 two-parter "Murder Two" (1997). In a sense, this brought Diagnosis: Murder full circle, as its parent series, Jake and the Fatman, was inspired by a Season 1 episode of Matlock in 1986.
- Barbara Bain reprised her role of Cinnamon Carter of Mission: Impossible in season 5 episode "Discards."
- Peter Graves, who starred alongside Barbara Bain on Mission: Impossible as Jim Phelps did not return as his character, but did make a very brief cameo in "Must Kill TV" and the same scene is seen in part 1 of the Series 6 episode Trash TV Part 1 as "Dr. Sloane" in a Mission: Impossible-style illusion of his first TV pilot of "Doctor Danger," later replaced during the show.
- Robert Culp also guest starred in the episode "Discards" as Dane Travis, a retired espionage, tennis professional, and Dr. Travis' father. The character was similar to his Kelly Robinson character from I Spy, though Travis was said to have worked with the Impossible Missions Force (also seen on Mission: Impossible).
- "Discards" also featured appearances by former TV spies Patrick Macnee (The Avengers), Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Phil Morris (the 1988 version of Mission: Impossible), though they did not play their original characters.
- Jack Klugman also guest starred in season 4 episode "Physician, Murder Thyself," as a character very similar to his famous role on Quincy, M.E.. He guest-starred again, in season 6 episode "Voices Carry" as police detective Harry Trumble, the former fiance of Dr. Mark Sloan's late wife. Trumble reappeared in Lee Goldberg's Diagnosis Murder novel "The Past Tense."
- George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Wil Wheaton, and Grace Lee Whitney (all from Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation), as well as Bill Mumy (from Lost in Space), were guest stars in "Alienated!" one sixth season episode, which involved an apparent extraterrestrial life alien abduction and coverup.
- The episode "Drill for Death" included appearances by several actors associated with the M*A*S*H franchise: Elliott Gould and Sally Kellerman from the original movie; Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit and William Christopher from the television series; and Christopher Norris from the sequel series Trapper John, M.D..
- Randolph Mantooth and Robert Fuller, who worked together on NBC's Emergency! appeared together in a 1997 episode about the Malibu, California brushfires.
- The episode "Must Kill TV" features a number of small cameos by television personalities such as Erik Estrada and Dr. Joyce Brothers playing themselves and a larger one from Stephen J. Cannell as an over-the-top producer of action TV. The role is reprised in the two-parter "Trash TV."
- The episode "Food Fight" (1998) features Erin Moran, Pat Morita, Don Most, David Lander, Leslie Easterbrook and Conrad Janis. All of these actors starred alongside Scott Baio in Happy Days or its spin-offs, Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi and Mork & Mindy.
- The episode "Promises to Keep" (1998) features characters introduced in the Promised Land (a spin-off of Touched by an Angel) episode "Total Security" (1998) crossover into the show.
- A somewhat special case is the appearance of Jennifer Ringley (the internet's first web-based lifecaster with her pioneering JenniCam website from 1996 to 2003) in the 1998's episode "Rear Windows '98", where she played a fictionalized version of herself (with a website called "Joannecam") who is killed in the first minute.
Over the run of the show, various episodes guest starred at least eight different members of the Van Dyke family:
- Dick Van Dyke and son Barry Van Dyke in the lead roles.
- Dick's brother, Jerry Van Dyke.
- One of Dick's daughters, Stacy Van Dyke.
- Barry's children: Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, Wes Van Dyke and Taryn Van Dyke.
Smaller recurring roles
- Joanna Cassidy (Season 7) plays Madison Wesley, a doctor friend of Mark Sloan, and Dean of Community General's Medical School. She is in 8 episodes.
- Kim Little (Seasons 5 and 6) plays Susan Hillard, Jesse's longtime girlfriend, for 10 episodes. In the season 7 episode "Bringing Up Barbie" It is mentioned that she left Jesse to go to Oregon with a male Chiropractor. But in the Diagnosis Murder books which take place after Season 6, she appears in almost every book and Jesse and Susan get Married in the book "The Dead Letter".
- Susan Gibney (Seasons 5–7) plays Detective Tanis Archer, Steve's partner in 4 episodes. Susan Gibney was also in three other episodes as two different characters.
- Charmin Lee (Seasons 7–8) is Steve's second partner Detective Cheryl Brooks, who is in 11 episodes between seasons 7 and 8.
- Martin Kove (Seasons 6–7) is Captain Newman, for 3 episodes.
- Shane Van Dyke (Seasons 4–8) is Alex Smith, a third year medical school, who appears in 14 episodes during seasons 7 and 8. He is also seen as a boxing student in Never Say Die and an actor in Frontier Dad. (Both these episodes star the rest of Barry Van Dyke's children also.)
- Carey Van Dyke (Seasons 4–8) plays various characters: Mr. Kelso, Terry Marshall, Kyle Lewis, Brendan Kelly, Carl Simpson, and Craig Wilson. In the TV movie "A Town without Pity he plays a character named "Billy".
- Kevin McNally II (Seasons 3–8) as the ubiquitous Emergency Medicial Technician in 19 episodes.
- Tim Conway plays Tim Conrad, an old friend of Mark's and a comedian, in 2 episodes. Conway and Van Dyke had previously worked together on The Carol Burnett Show.
- Harry Lennix (Seasons 5–6) plays FBI Agent Ron Wagner and Amanda's love interest in 6 episodes.
- Fred Dryer (Season 5) plays Police Chief Masters in 3 episodes.
- Nancy Youngblut (seasons 4–5) plays Nurse Nancy Rush in 2 episodes.
- Mariette Hartley (1st and 2nd TV movies only) plays Kate Hamilton the Administrator at Community General Hospital.
- Vernee Watson-Johnson (1st and 2nd TV movies only) plays Esther Wiggins Dr. Mark Sloan's Secretary.
- Kimberly Quinn (episode "Dance of Danger" and the TV movie "Without Warning") plays Ellen Sharp, a tabloid news reporter who Steve Sloan is interested in. Steve proposes to her in the TV Movie "Without Warning" and she says yes.
- Robert Bailey Jr. (Season 7) plays Colin Jesse or C.J. for short is Amanda Bentley's son. He was born in Season Three of the show and is played by Robert Bailey Jr. in three of the episodes he appeared in. C.J. appeared in a few more episodes before Season 7 as a different child actor.
- Aaron Meeks (Season 7) plays Deon a boy who Dr. Amanda Bentley adopts. He appears in 3 episodes.
Locations and administrators
Denver, Colorado, location
The first season’s filming commenced in July 1993 in Denver, Colorado. Much of the cast as well as the production company personnel from Viacom stayed in the (then) Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown, located at 19th Street between Curtis and Arapahoe. Among the reasons that production of Diagnosis: Murder was located in Denver was because the same production people had already been working there since about 1990 filming the new Perry Mason made for TV movies.
At that same time, Raymond Burr and his associates were busily filming their episodes for Perry Mason. In and around the Embassy Suites Hotel at that time, it was not unusual to see several semi-trailers parked street-side in support of the production at various office or exterior locations in and around downtown Denver.
Both series were produced by the Hargrove, Silverman team with Viacom. Therefore, the business decision to combine both productions at the same location was evident. While the Perry Mason series was often filmed in a special courtroom constructed for the production within The Denver City and County Building, Diagnosis: Murder was temporarily set at the then recently closed St. Luke’s Hospital on 19th Street just east of downtown.
When Raymond Burr became terminally ill later that summer, he no longer was seen at the hotel after having filmed his last episode, The Case of the Killer Kiss. (1993) In fact, upon his demise, Paul Sorvino was seen entering the hotel building to begin filming what was to be the last Perry Mason episode ever filmed in Denver, – A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives (1993). Upon completion of that filming, Viacom and the entire production company left Denver in late September, early October 1993, including that of Diagnosis: Murder. Thus, only the Diagnosis: Murder episodes filmed from mid-July through September 1993 were shot in Denver, after which production shifted permanently to Los Angeles.
Community General Hospital
Community General Hospital is the main set for the show. It is six to seven floors depending on the episode. It holds about 400 beds, with three trauma rooms, two psych wards, and one Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Mark Sloan is Chief of Internal Medicine. The Marriott Hotels & Resorts in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, was used as the exterior of Community General Hospital in the final three seasons of the show (it was also used as a casino in the pilot of CSI).
List of Administrators at Community General Hospital
BBQ Bob's is a restaurant that Jesse Travis and Steve Sloan co-own starting in the sixth season. Mark Sloan is also a silent partner. It is located in a small strip mall very close to Community General Hospital. Other stores around it include a jewelry store, travel agency and a bank. It is often frequented by the hospital staff as an alternative to the hospital cafeteria. All staff members get discounts. The exterior of BBQ Bob's was based on a storefront at the Whizin's Center in Agoura, California, where exterior scenes of BBQ Bob's were occasionally filmed.
In the first two seasons of the show Mark Sloan lived in a house in Denver, Colorado. No explanation is given when the show shifts to California for all the remaining episodes.
The Sloans' beach house
Starting in the third season, Mark and Steve Sloan live in a beach house at 3231 Beach Drive, Malibu, with Steve in the basement. The basement was often redressed to act as other sets. The actual house is on Broad Beach Road in Malibu, CA.
Pilot and TV movies
The pilot episode was called "It Never Entered My Mind" from Jake and The Fatman. Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons. The hospital is called Clairemont Hospital instead of Community General Hospital, and there is no Jack or Amanda. His friends who helped him clear his name are
Diagnosis: Murder had five TV movies between 1992 and 2002, three of which aired prior to the TV series.
- Diagnosis of Murder, the first TV movie, aired before the regular series, January 5, 1992, on CBS.
- The House on Sycamore Street, the second TV movie, aired before the regular series, May 1, 1992, on CBS.
- A Twist of the Knife, the third TV movie, aired before the regular series, February 13, 1993, on CBS.
- A Town Without Pity, the fourth TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, February 6, 2002, on CBS.
- Without Warning, the fifth and final TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, April 26, 2002, on CBS.
Fred Silverman insisted that every season the series devote one episode as a television pilot. The following are known backdoor pilots.
- Australia: 10 Bold
- Canada: CTV Television Network and BOOK television
- Czech republic: Prima televize
- Estonia: TV3.
- France: France 2
- Finland: Yle.
- Germany: ProSieben, Kabel eins and Sat.1 Gold.
- Hungary: Viasat 3 and Duna.
- Ireland: RTÉ2.
- Italy: Rete 4 and Canale 5.
- Japan: NHK and Super! drama TV.
- Philippines: TV5
- Slovenia: Pop and TV3 Slovenia.
- Spain: Telecinco
- Sweden: Kanal 5 and Kanal 9
- United Kingdom: BBC One (until November 2011), BBC Two (until March 2007), Alibi, the Hallmark Channel and Channel 5 since January 2014. Now being repeated on CBS Action since March 2017.
- United States: CBS (original run) Ion Television ran reruns of the show from the summer of 2003 to the spring of 2005. Hallmark Channel (ran reruns until the fall of 2008), Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (movies and 2-parts only). Currently airing on Starz Encore Suspense weeknights at 10pm ET and weekdays at 11 am ET on MeTV
- Turkey: TNT Turkey.
On September 12, 2006, CBS Home Entertainment (with distribution by Paramount Pictures) released the complete Season 1 of Diagnosis: Murder on Region 1 DVD. The set included the Jake and the Fatman episode 4.19, "It Never Entered My Mind," which introduced the character of Dr. Mark Sloan. It did not however, include the TV movies that were made prior to the show's premiere. Seasons 2 and 3 are also now available. After two years since the release of the first season on Region 1 DVD, a Region 2 DVD of Diagnosis: Murder – Series 1 was released on May 5, 2008, according to Amazon.co.uk
On June 26, 2012, Visual Entertainment released "Diagnosis Murder – The Movie Collection" on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. In the US, the release was distributed by Alchemy. The three-disc set featured all three TV movies that aired in 1992/1993 and spawned the weekly TV series as well as the two TV movies that aired after the series ended.
On December 31, 2012, it was announced that VEI had acquired the rights to the series (via their sublicensing deal with CBS) and planned on releasing the remaining seasons on DVD in 2013. They subsequently released the fourth and fifth seasons both as two-part volumes and as a complete set on August 27, 2013. The sixth season was released on November 12, 2013, in Canada while it was released in the US on November 26, 2013. The seventh season was released on November 19, 2013, in Canada and in the US on February 11, 2014; the eighth and final season on November 19, 2013, in Canada and in the US on May 27, 2014. VEI also released The Complete Collection On November 12, 2013. It includes all 178 episodes, all 5 of the TV Movies, The "Jake And The Fatman" Episode "It Never Entered My Mind", and an episode of "Mannix" Called "Little Girl Lost" which was A Prequel to the Episode "Hard Boiled Murder" on a 51 Disc set. It also has an exclusive to The Complete Collection a clip of Van Dyke as Rob Petrie In Obsession Part 2.
In Australia, Region 4, Season 1 was released on May 15, 2008 and Season 2 on November 6, 2008, no further releases were released. These two releases were distributed by Paramount. On October 14, 2015 Season 1 and 2 were re-released along with Season 3. Season 4 followed on April 20, 2016 and Season 5 on July 20, 2016. These were distributed by Madman Entertainment. Season 6 was released on May 3, 2017, Season 7 on June 7, 2017 and Season 8 on July 5, 2017. These were distributed by Via Vision Entertainment. The Movie Collection was released on August 7, 2019.
|DVD Release||Episodes||Originally aired||Release date|
|Region 1||Region 2|
|Television Movie Collection||5 TV Movies||1992–2002||June 26, 2012||N\A|
|The Complete First Season||19 + Pilot||1993–1994||September 12, 2006||May 5, 2008|
|The Complete Second Season||22||1994–1995||June 12, 2007||February 9, 2009|
|The Complete Third Season||18||1995–1996||December 4, 2007||July 13, 2009|
|The Complete Fourth Season||26||1996–1997||August 27, 2013 (Canada)|
February 18, 2014 (USA)
|The Complete Fifth Season||25||1997–1998||August 27, 2013 (Canada)|
October 1, 2013 (USA)
|The Complete Sixth Season||22||1998–1999||November 12, 2013 (Canada)|
November 26, 2013 (USA)
|The Complete Seventh Season||24||1999–2000||November 19, 2013 (Canada)|
February 11, 2014 (USA)
|The Complete Eighth Season||22||2000–2001||November 19, 2013 (Canada)|
May 27, 2014 (USA)
|The Complete Collection||178 Episodes + Pilot + The 5 TV Movies + Little Girl Lost + Bonus scene.||1991–2002||November 12, 2013||TBA|
Between 2003 and 2007, eight original novels were published based on the TV series. All of them were written by Lee Goldberg, a former executive producer and writer on the TV series. According to his website, there will be no more books based on the show. The books are, in order:
- Diagnosis Murder: The Silent Partner
- Diagnosis Murder: The Death Merchant
- Diagnosis Murder: The Shooting Script
- Diagnosis Murder: The Waking Nightmare
- Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense
- Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
- Diagnosis Murder: The Double Life
- Diagnosis Murder: The Last Word
The Past Tense is a prequel to the episode "Voices Carry", which guest-starred Jack Klugman as Harry Trumble, and chronicles Dr. Mark Sloan's first homicide investigation. The final book in the series, The Last Word, is a sequel of sorts to the episodes "Obsession" and "Resurrection" and features the return of Carter Sweeney, who was played by Arye Gross in the TV series.
Crossover with Monk
Two of the characters in The Death Merchant later reappeared in Lee Goldberg's series of novels based on the television series Monk:
- Lt. Ben Keoloha appears in Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii as the Kauai police lieutenant that Adrian Monk and Natalie Teeger assist in solving several unsolved cases on the island.
- Ian Ludlow appears in Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants as the private consultant for the Los Angeles Police Department. In the course of that novel, Ludlow frames several people such as Natalie, Monk's first assistant Sharona Fleming, and Sharona's ex-husband Trevor Howe, for a series of bizarre murders. Later Monk proves that Ludlow committed all the crimes himself.