Toma (TV series)

Toma is an American crime drama television series that ran on ABC from March 21, 1973 to May 10, 1974. The series stars Tony Musante as a real-life detective Dave Toma, who was a master of disguise and undercover work. Susan Strasberg and Simon Oakland also star in supporting roles as his wife and his boss, respectively.

Created byEdward Hume
StarringTony Musante
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes22 (plus 1 TV movie)
ProducerStephen J. Cannell
Production locationsUniversal City, California
Long Beach, California
Running time48 minutes
Production companiesUniversal Television
Roy Huggins Public Arts Productions
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original networkABC
Original releaseMarch 21, 1973 (1973-03-21) –
May 10, 1974 (1974-05-10)
Related showsBaretta


The series stars Tony Musante and Susan Strasberg and was based on the real-life story and published biography of Newark, New Jersey, police detective David Toma. Toma had compiled an amazing arrest record during his years on the force, particularly in arresting drug dealers.[1] His boss, Inspector Spooner, was played by Simon Oakland.

The show ended production after one season, as Musante had only agreed to film one full season, citing a desire not to get trapped into only playing one character over a long period of time. The network and producers had initially assumed this to be a negotiating ploy, but Musante held firm and did not return for a second season.

Although the role of David Toma was recast with Robert Blake, it was soon felt that Blake would be better served with a different concept; accordingly, Toma was overhauled and became the 1975 series Baretta. Apart from the circumstances of its conception, Baretta has no obvious on-screen connection to Toma, as the shows have no characters or settings in common.

Many of the people on the Toma writing staff would go on to write episodes of The Rockford Files, which debuted shortly after Toma's cancellation. These writers included Stephen J. Cannell, Roy Huggins (who signed most of his work on both shows as "John Thomas James"), Juanita Bartlett, Zekial Marko, Don Carlos Dunaway, and Gloryette Clark. Series stars Musante, Strasberg and Oakland would also guest star on various episodes of The Rockford Files. An early version of the character of Jim Rockford had originally been conceived of as a guest star for a never-filmed episode of Toma; the script was rewritten and became The Rockford Files 90-minute pilot, and all connections and references to Toma were dropped.


Pilot (1973)Edit

Episode Directed by Written by Original air date
"Toma"Richard T. HeffronGerald Di Pego,
Edward Hume
March 21, 1973 (1973-03-21)
90-minute TV-movie: A cop in Newark, New Jersey, defies his superiors to try to bring down the head of a Mafia numbers racket.

Season 1 (1973–74)Edit

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Oberon Contract"Jeannot SzwarcTeleplay by Stephen J. Cannell,
Story by John Thomas James
October 4, 1973 (1973-10-04)
Toma helps out an ex-con who has been framed for murder.
2"Ambush on 7th Avenue"Richard C. BennettGloryette Clark, Roy Huggins and Edward HumeOctober 11, 1973 (1973-10-11)
Toma teams up with a college student to investigate a gang killing gone bad.
3"Crime Without Victim"Daniel HallerTeleplay by Stephen J. Cannell,
Story by John Thomas James
October 18, 1973 (1973-10-18)
A hostage escapes from her kidnappers, but that's not the end of the matter as Toma soon discovers.
4"Stakeout"Nicholas ColasantoRoy HugginsOctober 25, 1973 (1973-10-25)
Toma and his new partner are assigned to track down a pusher by staking out his girlfriend.
5"The Cain Connection"Gary NelsonTeleplay by Stephen J. Cannell,
Story by John Thomas James
November 1, 1973 (1973-11-01)
A desperate novelist decides to take a page from one of his own books when he accidentally acquires a shipment of heroin.
6"Blockhouse Breakdown"Richard C. BennettTeleplay by Lonne Elder III,
Story by John Thomas James
November 8, 1973 (1973-11-08)
Toma goes up against a sniper, Billy Haskell (Jan-Michael Vincent), who has decided to open fire on the crowds from the top of an office building.
7"Frame-Up"Marc DanielsStephen J. CannellNovember 15, 1973 (1973-11-15)
When a numbers runner turns up beaten to within an inch of his life, Toma is accused of the crime.
8"The Bambara Bust"Alexander GrasshoffTeleplay by Judy Burns,
Story by John Thomas James
December 6, 1973 (1973-12-06)
A heroin-smuggling ring that uses an ocean liner to move their product is Toma's next target.
9"50% of Normal"Jeannot SzwarcTeleplay by Zekial Marko,
Story by Peter Salerno & Jane Sparkes
January 18, 1974 (1974-01-18)
A particularly violent rapist who wears a ski mask to conceal his identity is on the loose, and Toma is assigned to the case.
NOTE: "Peter Salerno" is a pseudonym for series star Tony Musante; Jane Sparkes is Musante's wife.
10"Rock-A-Bye"Joseph HardyJane Sparkes & Peter SalernoJanuary 25, 1974 (1974-01-25)
Black marketeers are selling babies to desperate couples, forcing Toma to go undercover as a prospective client.
NOTE: "Peter Salerno" is a pseudonym for series star Tony Musante; Jane Sparkes is Musante's wife.
11"Time and Place Unknown: Part 1"Richard C. BennettDon Carlos Dunaway, Roy Huggins and Edward HumeFebruary 8, 1974 (1974-02-08)
Toma poses as an ex-con stunt driver to infiltrate a burglary ring.
12"Time and Place Unknown: Part 2"**February 15, 1974 (1974-02-15)
Toma has infiltrated the burglary ring, but can't warn the police about a planned heist without endangering his own life.
13"A Funeral for Max Fabian"Alexander GrasshoffZekial MarkoFebruary 22, 1974 (1974-02-22)
Toma takes on the dockworkers' union by going undercover as a stevedore.
14"The Big Dealers"Russ MayberryEdward HumeMarch 1, 1974 (1974-03-01)
Toma goes after drug dealers who are importing large quantities of high quality heroin.
15"The Contract on Alex Cordeen"Alexander GrasshoffTeleplay by Stephen J. Cannell,
Story by John Thomas James
March 8, 1974 (1974-03-08)
Mobster Alex Cordeen makes an unusual request of Toma: he wants the undercover cop to watch him be assassinated.
16"Joey the Weep"Charles S. DubinTeleplay by Don Carlos Dunaway,
Story by John Thomas James
March 22, 1974 (1974-03-22)
A small-time crook turns up dead, and Toma tries to work out why anyone want him murdered.
17"Friends of Danny Beecher"Alexander GrasshoffTeleplay by Edward Hume
Story by Gloryette Clark
March 29, 1974 (1974-03-29)
Ex-con Danny Beecher kills the cop who put him away and goes on the run, and Toma has to find him.
18"The Madam"Michael SchultzTeleplay by Juanita Bartlett,
Story by John Thomas James
April 12, 1974 (1974-04-12)
Toma's next target is a crook who gets women strung out on drugs and then sells them to the syndicate as prostitutes.
19"Pound of Flesh"*Edward HumeApril 19, 1974 (1974-04-19)
A case strikes close to home for Toma when he helps out a restaurant owner who used to be close to Patty, and is now the target of loan sharks.
20"Indictment"Gary NelsonTeleplay by Juanita Bartlett,
Story by John Thomas James
April 26, 1974 (1974-04-26)
Toma finds himself at odds with a prosecutor who will do anything to win his cases.
21"The Street"Jeannot SzwarcZekial MarkoMay 3, 1974 (1974-05-03)
Toma has a racial war on his hands when a crime threatens to set off riots in the ghettos.
22"The Accused"Russ MayberryTeleplay by Don Carlos Dunaway,
Story by David Toma
May 10, 1974 (1974-05-10)
Bernie Travlos has a reputation as a good cop, but Toma has his doubts when Bernie is connected to a murder.


The series received favorable reviews[2][3] and blistering criticism for its depictions of criminal and police violence.[4][5] Although Toma was achieving relatively good ratings,[6] the show ended after one season. A second season was planned, but Tony Musante refused to continue with the show.[7][8] Musante had told the producers at the outset that he only wanted to do one season, but they mistakenly assumed that this was only a negotiating tactic and that he would return if the series was renewed.[7][9] The show would rank 45th out of 80 shows that season, with a 17.7 rating.[10]



Rather than recast the starring role of Toma, the show was retooled as Baretta starring Robert Blake, with violent scenes toned down. Baretta debuted as a mid-season replacement on ABC in early 1975.[11]

The Rockford FilesEdit

According to interviews on The Greatest American Hero DVD set, a writers strike during the shooting of Toma is what indirectly led to The Rockford Files.[citation needed] Writer Stephen J. Cannell and his mentor Roy Huggins created the character of Jim Rockford as a way to get around an impossible schedule created by the strike.


Despite having contributed to the development of the popular Baretta, reruns of Toma were never syndicated to local stations, and repeats of the show on national television post-cancellation have been rare. Repeats of Toma aired in the late-1970s during ABC Late Night, and later on USA Network's Crimebusters in 1984-1985. One episode aired on TV Land in 2001.


  1. ^ "Newark Detective of Many Disguises Gets a Bit Part in TV Film of His Life; Still Wears Disguises". The New York Times. 1973-03-21.
  2. ^ Smith, Cecil (1973-10-03). "Wambaugh Series a Genuine Article". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Adler, Dick (1974-01-25). "Toma - 'Rockabye' - Reality Enriches 'Gimmick' Series". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1973-10-05). "TV: For Chronic Dial Flipper, Mixed-Bag Season". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Deeb, Gary (1973-10-04). "Police Story debut unmasks real cops". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ Brown, Les (1974-02-14). "Midseason Correction Lifts A.B.C. to Second Place". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, John (1974-07-24). "TV: Star of Dropped 'Toma' Tells What Happened". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Deeb, Gary (1974-05-23). "Gun-downed Toma is ready for a showdown with ABC". Chicago Tribune.
  9. ^ Finnigan, Joseph (1974-06-29). "TV Teletype: Hollywood". TV Guide.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Haber, Joyce (1974-11-04). "Networks Running Out of Seasons". Los Angeles Times.

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