Steven S. Drachman reviews an old Episode of “The Eddie Capra Mysteries” that he saw on YouTube

Name that tune

I thought about this show for the first time in many years when I woke up one recent Saturday morning with its catchy, catchy theme song pounding through my head. I just couldn’t shake it, but I also could not name it. By Saturday night, it had gotten completely out of control. And then it struck me. Could it be that the tune in my head was The Eddie Capra Mysteries theme song? Indeed it was, that beautiful theme song, by the inescapable 1970s composer John Cacavas, which I had not heard since 1978 (forty-one years ago!), when the show ran for 13 brief episodes. It was one of my very favorites, back then, when I was 13.

How can I watch it?

And there was more good news. While Eddie does not stream on Hulu, Amazon, Netflix or anywhere else, and it is unavailable on DVD, Blu-Ray and video, YouTube does indeed have one grainy episode viewable in its entirety.

Is it any good?

Does it hold up?

It does indeed.

Eddie Capra, played by Vincent Baggetta, is a California defense lawyer, who finds his real calling as an investigator. The available episode, Murder on the Flip Side, which was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe award in 1978, involves the murder of a ruthless record executive. The plot is appropriately labyrinthine, the moments of suspense are genuinely suspenseful, and the solution to the mystery is diabolical, hilarious and well-earned.

Who’s in it?

The episode features 1970s names like pop singer Rick Springfield (as a pop singer), and older names like 1960s jazz singer Mel Carter (as a 1960s jazz singer). Dick Haymes appears wearing a really unfortunate turtleneck, and Vicki Lawrence, who was a member of Carol Burnett’s ensemble at the time, rounds out the cast as the #1 suspect. Springfield is not great, and Springfield had some unfairly nasty things to say years later. But the rest of the cast is strong, including Wendy Phillips, who plays Capra’s romantic interest, and who later acted with Warren Beatty in Bugsy.

And Baggetta is perfect. He doesn’t wink, exactly. He’s fully committed to his street-smart character, but he’s having fun a little bit above-the-fray. Baggetta portrays Eddie Capra as a guy who just loves being the star of a mystery detective show, a witty and subtle performance that may not have been fully recognized at the time.

A great show. You should watch it.

Steven S. Drachman is the author of Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead, which will be published by Chickadee Prince Books on September 1, 2019; it is available for pre-order in trade paperback from your favorite local independent bookstore, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and on Kindle.