87th Precinct is an American crime drama starring Robert Lansing, Gena Rowlands, Ron Harper, Gregory Walcott and Norman Fell, which aired on NBC on Monday evenings during the 1961–1962 television season. The characters appeared in a series of novels and short stories written by Ed McBain.
The program featured Lansing as Detective Steve Carella, who worked in the fictional city of Isola, patterned on Manhattan, New York City. Rowlands played Carella's deaf-mute wife, Teddy. Ron Harper played rookie detective Bert Kling. Other detective roles were portrayed by Gregory Walcott as seasoned veteran Roger Havilland and Norman Fell as the eccentric Meyer Meyer.
The 87th Precinct TV series differs from the books in that the series is explicitly set in New York. As well, the character of Roger Havilland in the books is violent, corrupt, and thoroughly disliked by the other members of the squad; for the TV series, he was transformed into an honest and respected veteran officer.
87th Precinct premiered on September 25, 1961, and concluded its first-run episodes on April 30, 1962. Repeats continued until September 10, 1962. It was a creation of Hubbell Robinson Productions.
The program faced stiff competition on CBS from The Danny Thomas Show and its spin-off, The Andy Griffith Show. At the time, ABC aired the second and last season of another detective program, Surfside 6, starring Troy Donahue and Van Williams.
In the premiere segment entitled "The Floater", Carella tails Curt Donaldson (Robert Culp), a sadistic con man who preys on lonely women.
"Lady in Waiting" on October 2 - Virginia Colt (played by Constance Ford) arrives at the precinct house with a gun seeking vengeance on Carella for sending her late husband to prison.
"Lady Killer" on October 9 - The detectives receive an anonymous note which says only, "I will kill the lady tonight at 8."
"The Very Hard Sale" on December 4 – A used-car salesman named Glenn Cornell takes one of the cars off the lot and drives out to see a prospective buyer named Barrow, played by Leonard Nimoy. The car is found with Cornell slumped over the wheel. Suicide or murder?
"Run, Rabbit, Run" on December 25 – A former underworld czar Doug Quinn, who faces execution, announces that the men who helped to convict him will also die. Toots Brendan was the state's key witness against Quinn.
"Give the Boys a Great Big Hand" on January 15 — A severed hand found in a dumpster leads the detectives to investigate a murder and to stop the killer from striking again.
"The Pigeon" on January 29 - Greg Brovane, played by Peter Falk, gives police a tip in connection with a robbery in which two men were killed. However, Brovane has been subject to intense brainwashing, and the three accomplices he has named are nonexistent. The episode also stars Richard Deacon, Nora Marlowe, Frank Sutton, and Morgan Woodward.
"A Bullet for Katie" on February 12 — A ten-year-old boy might hold the key to the shooting of the new bride of police officer Bill Miller (played by Ed Nelson), who suspects that the shooter is an ex-con named Gantry (Harold J. Stone), who had previously threatened Miller.
"King's Ransom" on February 19 – Two kidnappers plot to snatch the son of millionaire Douglas King but they grab the son of King's chauffeur by mistake. Nancy Reagan (as Nancy Davis) guest stars.
"Idol in the Dust" on April 2 - Rookie detective Kling tries to persuade baseball player Larry Brooks (Michael Dante) to launch a neighborhood ball club for wayward youth in his neighborhood, where vandalism is a recurring problem. Brooks agrees to do so after he learns that his parolee older brother has become involved in a numbers racket. Brooks fails to keep his brother out of trouble. The episode stars Jeanette Nolan as Brooks' mother and Frank Bank of Leave It to Beaver in an uncredited part.
"Ramon" on April 9 - A boy named Ramon (Danny Bravo) steals a wreath to place on his mother's grave. Ramon's father, along with a janitor at the 87th Precinct, is involved with a group plotting to assassinate the prime minister of a Latin American nation whom the officers must protect. Guest stars: Willis Bouchey and Rico Alaniz.
"The Last Stop" on April 23 — Mike Power (Victor Jory) is an embittered, irritating detective demoted to the 87th Precinct shortly before his scheduled retirement. He drives the squad bonkers.
"Girl in a Case", the series finale — Detective Havilland becomes attracted to a stenographer, whose life is being threatened. In the episode Havilland reveals that he was an All-American football player in college. Joan Staley, Jerry Paris, and Janis Paige guest star.
The San Diego-born Lansing (1928–1994) starred three years after 87th Precinct as General Frank Savage on ABC's Twelve O'Clock High. His costars were Chris Robinson and future U.S. Representative Robert K. Dornan, a Republican from California. Over the years, Lansing appeared in various episodes of some eighty television series. He died in New York City of cancer.
Timeless Media Group released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time in August 2012.