RETURN OF CHARLIE CHAN, THE (TV) (1973 USA)
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Return of Charlie Chan was subtitled Happiness is a Warm Clue, which should be warning enough for the discriminating viewer. Ross Martin, the disguise-happy "Artemus Gordon" of The Wild Wild West, here plays Earl Derr Biggers' scrupulously polite Chinese sleuth. Chan is dragged out of retirement to solve a baffling case, made less baffling by the guest star line-up (the killer all but wears a neon sign reading "IT'S ME!"). The victim is a possessive Greek shipping tycoon, who isn't named Onassis but you can't fool us. Rocky Gunn, Virginia Lee, Soon Teck-Oh and Ernest Harada are among the many actors playing Charlie's offspring, none of them any brighter than the "Number One" and "Number Two" sons in the old Charlie Chan B pictures. Return of Charlie Chan was the pilot film for a projected "Chan" TV series, but it was shelved due to pressure-group complaints over the casting of a Caucasian in the lead. The film was released theatrically in Europe in 1973, but didn't make it to American television until 1979. No pressure groups complained this time, mainly because no one was watching.