Jake and the Fatman

Jake and the Fatman is an American crime drama television series starring William Conrad as prosecutor J. L. (Jason Lochinvar) "Fatman" McCabe and Joe Penny as investigator Jake Styles.[1][2][3] The series ran on CBS for five seasons from September 26, 1987, to May 6, 1992. Diagnosis: Murder was a spin-off of this series.[4][5]

Jake and the Fatman
Jake and the Fatman.jpg
Title screen
GenreCrime drama
Created byDean Hargrove
Joel Steiger
Ann Doherty
Developed byDouglas Stefen Borghi
StarringWilliam Conrad
Joe Penny
Alan Campbell
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes106 (list of episodes)
Executive producersDean Hargrove
Fred Silverman
Joel Steiger
Production locationsLos Angeles, California
Oahu, Hawaii
Running timeapprox. 45 minutes
Production companiesThe Fred Silverman Company
Strathmore Productions (1987–1988)
Dean Hargrove Productions (1988–1992)
Viacom Productions
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkCBS
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseSeptember 26, 1987 (1987-09-26) –
May 6, 1992 (1992-05-06)
Related showsMatlock
Diagnosis: Murder


J. L. "Fatman" McCabe is a Hawaii-born, tough former HPD officer turned Los Angeles district attorney. He is teamed with a handsome, happy-go-lucky special investigator named Jake Styles. They often clash due to their different styles and personalities. "Fatman" hardly travels anywhere without Max, his pet bulldog. The show was set in Los Angeles during the first season. After the end of Magnum, P.I., the show was moved to Hawaii. The second and third seasons and half of the fourth season were filmed in Honolulu. The show then returned to Los Angeles for the remainder of its run.


Main castEdit

Recurring guest starsEdit

Guest stars on the series included Alex Cord, Robert Culp, Denise Dowse, Scott Marlowe, Leigh McCloskey, Ed Nelson, Leo Penn, Stephen Quadros, Robert Reed, Mitch Ryan, David Soul and Ray Sharkey.



Conrad guest starred as an aging prosecutor in a two-part episode of Matlock during its first season on NBC. Executive producers Fred Silverman and Dean Hargrove decided to use this character as a model for one of the main characters in a new show they were creating for CBS. Penny also guest starred in these episodes, but his character was not on the same side as Conrad's character in the storyline's legal case.

Following the departure of Hargrove, executive producers David Moessinger and Jeri Taylor were brought on to run the series with Silverman. They also hired J. Michael Straczynski as story editor and, later, co-producer. Taylor and Moessinger ran the show for two years before finally leaving in a dispute over control over the show.

Straczynski has written that he was hired after submitting a script that let Conrad sit down for almost every scene. (And noted that the writers' slogan for the show was "One can't act, one can't walk - together, they fight crime!")


Joe Penny lost a large amount of weight after the show moved to Hawaii, which led to many rumors about his health, including the possibility that he had AIDS. In actuality, he had suffered from a gastrointestinal virus and was having difficulty regaining the weight he lost. When the show moved back to Los Angeles, it was also suspected that it was on Penny's urging. This was also not true, as the move was CBS's decision.[6]


Jake and the Fatman had a total of five seasons and 106 episodes that were broadcast on CBS between 1987 and 1992.

Season No. of
Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot 2 October 28, 1986 (1986-10-28) November 4, 1986 (1986-11-04)
1 23 September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26) April 6, 1988 (1988-04-06)
2 11 March 15, 1989 (1989-03-15) May 24, 1989 (1989-05-24)
3 26 September 20, 1989 (1989-09-20) May 16, 1990 (1990-05-16)
4 24 September 12, 1990 (1990-09-12) May 8, 1991 (1991-05-08)
5 22 September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18) April 6, 1992 (1992-04-06)

Home mediaEdit

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) released the first two seasons of Jake and the Fatman on DVD in Region 1 between 2008/2009. As of June 2015, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

Visual Entertainment released Jake and the Fatman - The Complete Collection on June 23, 2017.[7][8]

Jake and the Fatman - The Complete Collection is rated PG in New Zealand for Violence, coarse language & drug references

DVD Name Ep # Region 1
Season One, Volume One 11 July 8, 2008[9]
Season One, Volume Two 12 December 2, 2008[10]
Season Two 11 May 5, 2009[11]
Season Three 26 N/A
Season Four 24 N/A
Season Five 22 N/A
The Complete Series 106 June 23, 2017[12]


The nineteenth episode of the fourth season of Jake and the Fatman, "It Never Entered My Mind", featured Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes. The success of that episode led initially to a series of three TV movies, and then a weekly television series Diagnosis: Murder that debuted on CBS on October 29, 1993.


  1. ^ "Jake and the Fatman". The New York Times.
  2. ^ G. S. Bourdain (February 13, 1994). "William Conrad, 73, TV Actor In 'Fatman' and 'Cannon' Series". The New York Times.
  3. ^ John J. O'Connor (September 29, 1987). "TV Review; Crime on CBS and Yuppies on ABC". The New York Times.
  4. ^ CNN: Dick Van Dyke interview
  5. ^ Emmy TV Legends: Diagnosis Murder
  6. ^ "Interviews". Joepenny.com.au. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008.
  7. ^ 'Jake and the Fatman - 'The Complete Series' DVD Set: Date, Cost, Package Art, More! Coming to North America from VEI in just two-and-a-half weeks!' Archived June 6, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ 'Jake and the Fatman - The Complete Collection'
  9. ^ "Jake and the Fatman DVD news: Box Art for Jake and the Fatman - Season 1, Volume 1 - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  10. ^ "Jake and the Fatman DVD news: Early Box Art for Jake and the Fatman - Season 1, Volume 2 - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  11. ^ "Jake and the Fatman DVD news: Announcement for Jake and the Fatman - The 2nd Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  12. ^ 'Jake and the Fatman - The Complete Collection'

External linksEdit