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American action-mystery-comedy-medical crime drama television series (1993-2001)
Title screen used in seasons 1 and 2 of Diagnosis Murder
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 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.
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.
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 cast, 1993-1995: Victoria Rowell, Michael Tucci, Barry Van Dyke, Scott Baio, and Delores Hall, with Dick Van Dyke in the center
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 cop 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 villainous 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.
Dr. Amanda Bentley (played by Cynthia Gibb in the TV Movies set before the series), later Bentley-Livingston (played there by Victoria Rowell), resident Pathologist at Community General Hospital and assistant County Medical Examiner, who is also Dr. Mark Sloan's straightwoman 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 practice 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 resident and handsome student at Community General Hospital who Mark took under his wing and who became best friends with Amanda. Another favorable/breakout character 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.
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 DJing. 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.
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" [sic] in a Mission: Impossible-style illusion of his first TV pilot of "Doctor Danger," later replaced during the show.
Jack Klugman also guest starred in season 4 episode "Physician, Murder Thyself," as a character very similar to his famous role on Quincy. 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."
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 "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 (internet's very 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:
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 student, 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 EMT 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 J. 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.
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 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 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
Georgia on My Mind - A possible backdoor 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 - An unsold backdoor pilot for an untitled series. Rachael York played Randy Wolfe who's apparently an expert at everything.
Retribution Parts One and Two - "Retribution" was a backdoor pilot for a spinoff called The Chief that would have starred Fred Dryer as Police Chief Masters.
Blood Ties - Starred two vice unit detectives, Detective Amy Devlin (Kathy Evison) and Detective Taylor Lucas (Zoe McLellan). It was a backdoor pilot for a TV series that would have been named Whistlers.
United States: CBS (original run) PAX TV 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 Movie Channel (movies and 2-parts only). Currently airing on Encore Suspense weeknights at 10pm ET and weekdays at 11 am ET on MeTV
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; 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.
Television Movie Collection
5 TV Movies
June 26, 2012
The Complete First Season
19 + Pilot
September 12, 2006
May 5, 2008
The Complete Second Season
June 12, 2007
February 9, 2009
The Complete Third Season
December 4, 2007
July 13, 2009
The Complete Fourth Season
August 27, 2013 (Canada) February 18, 2014 (USA)
The Complete Fifth Season
August 27, 2013 (Canada) October 1, 2013 (USA)
The Complete Sixth Season
November 12, 2013 (Canada) November 26, 2013 (USA)
The Complete Seventh Season
November 19, 2013 (Canada) February 11, 2014(USA)
The Complete Eighth Season
November 19, 2013 (Canada) May 27, 2014 (USA)
The Complete Collection
178 Episodes + Pilot + The 5 TV Movies + Little Girl Lost + Bonus scene.
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: