Also known as
Country of origin
Dick Van DykeCynthia GibbStephen CaffreyBarry Van DykeVictoria RowellScott BaioMichael TucciDelores HallCharlie Schlatter
Theme music composer
Richard "Dick" DeBenedictisJoel Goldsmith (Season 6)
Diagnosis: Murder is a 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 his 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 TV movies, 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.
- Smaller recurring roles
- Denver Colorado location
- Community General Hospital
- BBQ Bobs
- Marks house
- The Sloans beach house
- TV movies
- Nested Pilots
- Season One
- Season Two
- Season Four
- Season Five
- Season Six
- Crossover with Monk
- DVD releases
The series struggled at first and was almost canceled at the end of the second season, 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 Paramount Network Television (Season 2 only) 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, 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 few 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.
The plot centered around Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke), a renowned physician who occasionally worked for the local police department as a consultant, and who could not resist a good mystery or a friend in need. Those cases often involved his son, Detective Steve Sloan (Barry Van Dyke). Helping him was his friend Norman Briggs (Michael Tucci in seasons in 1-4), a hospital administrator. Also assisting Dr. Sloan were his colleagues, medical examiner/pathologist Dr. Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio in the first two seasons), who later left and was replaced by a new resident, Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter from season 3 onwards).
One unique aspect of the series was that it frequently appropriated characters from various classic television series.
Over the run of the show, various episodes guest starred at least eight different members of the Van Dyke family:
Smaller recurring roles
Diagnosis: Murder had a total of eight seasons and 178 episodes which were broadcast on CBS between 1993 and 2001.
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 was no longer 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 Hotel in Woodland Hills, California 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
- Russell Havilland (was The Administrator at Clairemont Hospital in the Pilot of Diagnosis: Murder, "It Never Entered My Mind". He was murdered and Dr. Mark Sloan was framed for his murder.)
- Kate Hamilton (was The Administrator at Community General Hospital in The 1st and 2nd Diagnosis: Murder TV Movies. It was said in the Diagnosis: Murder book "The Shooting Script" that Kate Hamilton decided to sell her home and use the proceeds to open a nonprofit food bank in the inner city.
- Norman Briggs (was The Administrator of Community General Hospital for the first 4 seasons of Diagnosis: Murder. According to the book "The Shooting Script" it sounds like Norman was fired by the new owners Healthcorp International.)
- Harold Lomax ( he appeared in a few episodes like "Do No Harm" and "Today is The Last Day of the Rest of My Life". In the book "The Shooting Script" When Community General Hospital was sold to Healthcorp International they brought in General Harold Lomax who'd spent ten years running battlefield medical operations for the U.S. Marine Corps. Harold Lomax later resigned with an Extreme case of Irritable Bowel syndrome and left behind a hospital literally in ruins, decimated by a serial bomber "Catlin Sweeney" who was stalking Mark for putting her brother "Carter Sweeney" in prison.
- Noah Dent (he appeared in the books "The Shooting Script" and "The last Word". He ended up being hired by the new owners of the hospital "Hollywood International" and had a personal vendetta against Mark Sloan for Catching "Tanya" who murdered a rapist who raped her and killed a homeless War Veteran who saw her kill him. He ended up firing Mark, Amanda, and Jesse's girlfriend Susan. Jesse ended up finding out and blackmailed him into giving everyone back their jobs. He ended up leaving Community General Hospital.
- Janet Dorcott (she appeared in the book "The Last Word". She ended up firing Jesse and Susan Travis, after being framed for Murder and Amanda Bentley was also fired for selling body parts from dead bodies and fired Mark because she blamed him for all the scandal around 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 at 6544 Colorado Drive, Los Angeles.
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.
The Pilot of Diagnosis: Murder was called "It Never Entered My Mind" from Jake and The Fatman. In the Pilot 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.
Fred Silverman insisted that every season the series devotes one episode to be a nested pilot. The following are known nested pilots, however other seasons did include episodes which appeared to be nested pilots:
- Sister Michael Wants You - Would have starred Delta Burke as Sister Michael a crime solving Nun.
- How To Murder Your Lawyer - Would have starred Mitchell Whitfield and Leah Remini as Crime solving Lawyers Arnold Baskin and Agnes Benedetto.
- Georgia On My Mind - Might have been a possible Nested pilot about a female Private Investigator Georgia (Daphne Ashbrook).
- An Explosive Murder - Starred Tracey Gold as an undercover officer Amy Dawson.
- A Mime is a Terrible Thing To Waste - Which was a spinoff for a unsold series pilot with no known name. Rachael York plays Randy Wolfe who's apparently an expert at everything.
- Retribution Parts One and Two - Retribution was a Nested Pilot for a spinoff called The Chief, and would have starred Fred Dryer as Police Chief Masters.
- Blood Ties - Stars Two vice unit Detectives, Detective Amy Devlin (Kathy Evison), and Detective Taylor Lucas (Zoe McLellan). It was a nested pilot for a TV series that would have been named Whistlers.
Between 2003 and 2007, there have been eight original novels 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:
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:
On September 12, 2006, CBS Home Entertainment (with distribution by Paramount) 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 Millennium Entertainment. 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 and 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.