45th Anniversary of Toma

One season wonder Toma, starring Tony Musante as a detective with a talent for undercover work, celebrates its 45th anniversary today. Based on the career of the real-life David Toma, the series ran for 22 episodes during the 1973-1974 season. Simon Oakland and Susan Strasberg co-starred.

Check out my in-depth article about Toma.

At first, the show fared poorly in the ratings. ABC moved it to a new night at mid-season and ratings improved. Nevertheless, ABC cancelled the show at the end of the 1973-1974 season. Why? Because Tony Musante refused to return for a second season. When approached about starring in the show, Musante had committed to a single season.

Producer Roy Huggins assumed no actor would walk away from a successful TV show, but that’s exactly what Musante did. Had ABC agreed to a shortened season or a series of telefilms, Musante would’ve stayed.

ABC considered reviving Toma during the 1974-1975 season with Robert Blake in the lead role. Ultimately, the network created an entirely new show, Baretta, which remained on the air until 1978.

Toma is one of just a handful of TV shows I’ve written about at Television Obscurities despite never having seen a single episode. It isn’t available on DVD, although multiple incomplete episodes have been uploaded to YouTube.

Were you a fan of Toma during the 1973-1974 season? Do you remember reading about Tony Musante leaving the show? Hit the comments with your memories and recollections.

2 Replies to “45th Anniversary of Toma”

  1. I’ll repeat the comment I made to your in-depth Toma article and say I can recall the real David Toma having a “background” role in each episode, playing someone who gets just a few seconds of screen time walking down the street, or perhaps delivering a package, and I’d try to catch which person he was playing that week. I may have spent too much time trying to find the real David Toma, for I don’t recall much else about the show!
    I was in high school when it was broadcast, and there must have been a lot of media coverage about why the show was cancelled, for I remember knowing about Tony Musante refusing to do a second season. I wasn’t regularly reading TV Guide or other entertainment publications so I don’t know how I found out about it, but it just sticks in my head that I knew that bit of trivia.

    1. What I remember most about Toma, was it’s “grittiness”. The one episode that stands out is one where a friend of David’s tries to rape his wife Patty. I liked its sequel series Baretta. But I liked Toma better. I hope Universal does the “right” thing and puts it out on DVD. On the other hand, if it had gone second season, Simon Oakland might not have appeared on Kolchak: the Night Stalker.

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