1967-68: Casting changes and …

William Reynolds as SAC Tom Colby in 1967

Inspector Erskine gets a new sidekick

The FBI began Season 3 with more changes:

 

But most importantly, William Reynolds would take over the role of Inspector Lewis Erskine’s sidekick. Stephen Brooks would no longer perform that role. As SAC Tom Colby, Mr. Reynolds made a quiet debut, and the casting change would not be acknowledged until episode #72, “The Legend of John Rim,” on 31 December 1967.

Ratings began improving for The FBI as well. There was still some competition from a new NBC show, The Mothers-in-Law, that was developed by none other than Desi Arnaz. The comedy, however, would falter after its first season. The Ed Sullivan Show and Bonanza both had run a long time, and the former was especially showing its age by 1967. The FBI had become Quinn Martin's most successful series.

And, in a time of great turmoil, many Americans found Inspector Lewis Erskine's crime fighting rewarding. This is more so because shows that featured fantasy and/or camp were losing favor by this time. Audiences wanted more reality in their shows, not fantasy. Rioting in 1967, and political assassinations in spring 1968 left the United States demoralized, as did the frustrations of the Vietnam War.

In the end credits, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. drove a 1968 Ford Mustang convertible


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