Q & A: Code 3; The Ghostbreaker

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or even decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to pull out a few e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to enjoy. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

This show opening showed a pneumatic tube carrying a document throughout a big office building. Newspaper? Police headquarters? Can’t recall anything else–maybe I changed the channel! Late 50’s to 60’s is a guess.

Code 3, a half-hour police drama that premiered in syndication in 1957, featured an opening credits sequence in which a document was sent through a police station via pneumatic tube, just as Lee remembers. The series was produced by Hal Roach Studios and distributed by ABC Film Syndication.

Five episodes of Code 3 can be found at the Internet Archive. I’ve embedded one below:

Richard Travis starred as Rodger Barrett, a fictional assistant sheriff for Los Angeles County. Barrett introduced each episode and returned to offer a few concluding remarks as well.

The crimes and cases seen on Code 3 were supposedly drawn from the actual files of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which cooperated in the production of the series by providing technical assistance to ensure authenticity. Eugene W. Biscailuz, the real-life sheriff of Los Angeles County at the time, offered his own comments at the end of many episodes.

A total of 39 episodes were produced. Rheingold Beer was one of the primary regional sponsors. Other sponsors included National Biscuit, Signal Oil, Top Value Stamps, and Crosley-Bendix.

On Friday evening, September 16, 1966 on NBC network, a one-time pilot showing entitled “Ghosthunter” or “Ghosthunters” was transmitted. Never saw any subsequent programs or rerun of original pilot. Can you research this and find out more?

Television listings for September 16th, 1966 reveal no programming on NBC relating to ghosts. However, an hour-long pilot called “The Ghostbreaker” (also known as “Ghostbreaker,” “The Ghostbreakers” or “The Ghost Breakers”) aired on NBC on Friday, September 8th, 1967. It was not connected to the 1940 film The Ghost Breakers starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard.

Originally under consideration at NBC for the 1965-1966 season, “The Ghostbreaker” was produced by MGM-TV through Arena Productions with Normon Felton serving as executive producer. Peter Stone and Sherman Yellen wrote the pilot script.

Kerwin Mathews starred as Barnaby Cross, an associate professor of parapsychology who moonlighted as an investigator of all things supernatural. The plot of the pilot episode saw Barnaby trying to solve a mysterious murder. Diana Van der Vlis played his assistant, Cassandra, who was a hypnotist.

“The Ghostbreaker” was one of six pilots NBC tested on air during the opening week of the 1967-1968 season. The network hoped to use viewer reaction and ratings to help determine whether to pick up any of the pilots as mid-season replacements or for the 1968-1969 season.

7 Replies to “Q & A: Code 3; The Ghostbreaker”

  1. ““The Ghostbreaker” was one of six pilots NBC tested on air during the opening week of the 1967-1968 season. The network hoped to use viewer reaction and ratings to help determine whether to pick up any of the pilots as mid-season replacements or for the 1968-1969 season.”

    Were any actually chosen out of that experiment? Did any of these get a mid-season pick-up?

    1. No, none of the pilots were picked up. Here’s a list of all six:

      Tuesday, September 5th, 1967
      “Li’l Abner”
      “Sheriff Who?”

      Friday, September 8th, 1967
      “The Hardy Boys”
      “The Ghostbtreaker”
      “Police Story”
      “Three for Danger”

      Two additional pilots aired on Saturday, September 9th (“Weekend” and “Campo 44”) but both were no longer under consideration as potential weekly series.

  2. I remember seeing “The Ghostbreaker” when it first aired.
    It was a whodunit; the board members of a Big Corporation were getting bumped off, apparently by the late founder thereof.
    Diana van der Vlis was Kerwin Mathews’s assistant – who was a hypnotist.
    The third possible regular was a cop, played by Norman Fell.
    Margaret Hamilton’s character was the housekeeper of the late founder, who claimed to be a medium.
    Everybody else was a suspect (in alphabetical order):
    Richard Anderson
    Orson Bean
    Larry Blyden
    Michael Constantine
    Anne Jeffreys
    Kevin McCarthy
    Richard Ney
    A couple of these were dispatched during the hour (the one who got it in the teaser was actually kind of spectacular), but Mathews nailed the actual culprit, who turned out to be non-ghostly.
    Anyway, as noted, it didn’t sell, so there too.

    1. I saw the same show, and you remember it in much better detail than I; but your description’s exactly as I recall. The soundtrack John Williams composed is now available, and listening to it conjures up the show immediately.
      According to IMDB it had been filmed a few years earlier and shelved, which I find odd, as I’d always thought it was a pilot for a show that wasn’t picked up (and more’s the pity).

  3. TV shows brought to you by alcohol and cigarettes. Beer ads are still on TV but there’s not much in the way of hard liquor ads.

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