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.

4 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.

  2. Toma as one of my favorites as Baretta afterwards. As a kid I loved both of them. I have a
    few bootleg episodes of Toma decent quality still awesome to watch after all these years.
    Baretta first season on DVD but rest of seasons are bootleg and video quality at best! I
    read the transfers were lost in fire so seems like they will never be remastered and released!
    For such a great series it’s sad that both series are not available! Seems like a box set of both
    should be combined for fans of this popular series! but I doubt that will ever happen.

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