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Series / Jake and the Fatman

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Jake and the Fatman is a crime drama series starring William Conrad and Joe Penny.

J. L.note  "Fatman" McCabe (Conrad) is a tough, Hawaii-born former Honolulu Police Department officer turned Los Angeles district attorney. He is teamed with Jake Styles (Penny), a handsome, happy-go-lucky special investigator. The two men often clash due to their different styles and personalities. "Fatman" hardly travels anywhere without Max, his pet bulldog.

The show ran for five seasons (1987–92) on CBS. Diagnosis: Murder was a Spin-Off of this series.


Jake and the Fatman contains examples of:

  • Bad Santa: In "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", it's Christmastime, but McCabe isn't feeling so jolly as an ambitious assistant DA helps Jake find a murderous Santa Claus.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: In "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan", the killer has the drop on Jake. There is a close-up on Jake and the sound of a gunshot. The camera then cuts to the killer who is stand with his gun in hand. He then topples forward, revealing McCabe standing at the end of the corridor with a smoking gun in his hand.
  • Black Widow: In "The Tender Trap", Derek suspects his uncle's fiancee is a black widow, and she may have already spun her web.
  • Car Fu: In "It Had to Be You", a psychiatrist who is secretly a serial rapist plants evidence on one of his patients to frame him. When it looks like the police aren't buying the frame, he steals the car of one his victims and uses it to run down the patient: looking to close the case on the rapes and frame the victim for the murder.
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  • Christmas Episode: In "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", it's Christmastime, but McCabe isn't feeling so jolly as an ambitious assistant DA helps Jake find a murderous Santa Claus.
  • Cop/Criminal Family: McCabe's son Daniel, who he already dropped contact with due to various incidents that range from boneheaded to downright shady, turns out to have gained a profit selling fake airplane parts, which led to numerous private airplanes crashing and killing the families onboard. When J.L. learns this, he doesn't hesitate in turning him over to the feds.
  • Counterfeit Cash: In "Snowfall", the Secret Service gets help from Jake in catching a money counterfeiter, who trades his product for cocaine. It becomes personal for Jake when a friend is killed during a failed raid.
  • Detective Mole: In "You Turned the Tables on Me", the prosecutor appointed to head the organized crime unit turns out to be literally and figuratively in bed with the biggest mobster in town.
  • Driving into a Truck: Jake does this in "Rhapsody in Blue" when he stages a 'kidnapping' of a pair of suspects as part of plan to convince them he is a high ranking mob figure.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: J.L. McCabe's full name is Jason Lochenbar McCabe. Small wonder he prefers 'J.L.', or even 'Fatman'.
  • Fat and Skinny: McCabe and Styles.
  • Frame-Up: In "It Had to Be You", a psychiatrist who is a serial rapist plants evidence on one of his patients to frame him as the rapist. Later, he steals the car of one of his victims and uses it to fatally run over the patient, in an effort to frame the victim and close both cases.
  • GPS Evidence: In "Rhapsody in Blue", Jake gets sticky sap stuck to the roof of his car when he visits the murder scene. Later, while talking the garage attendant, the attendant sympathizes and says that he had to clean that sap off the car of one of the suspects twice within 24 hours. Jake realises that the suspect had returned to the scene of the crime after the legitimate visit he had told the police about.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of the episodes share their names with songs, often jazz standards.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In "It Had to Be You", McCabe tricks a serial rapist into accusing three women of conspiring against him and saying that he raped them. McCabe points out that the victims' identities were never released to the media, so the only way he could know they had been raped is if he was the rapist.
  • Lady Macbeth: In "Rhapsody in Blue", Ned Covington is passed for over for promotion by his boss Phil Duncan. On learning this, his wife concocts a plan to murders Duncan and pressures her husband into going along with it. However, they kill another employee by mistake. Realizing this, the wife comes up with a plan to frame Duncan for the murder.
  • Large and in Charge: J.L. McCabe is the L.A. District Attorney, extremely overweight, and very definitely the boss. When he talks, everyone listens.
  • Money Fetish: In "Rhapsody in Blue", a husband and wife pair of murderers/blackmailers are shown lying in post-coital bliss atop the $250,000 in small bills they had extorted from their victim; evidently just having had sex on top of it.
  • Monster Clown: In "We'll Meet Again", a clown comes after McCabe with a sawed-off shotgun, leading the Fatman to remember all the suspects he convicted.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "Rhapsody in Blue", a husband and wife pair of killers break into the company lodge intending the murder the husband's boss. However, in the darkness, the do not realise that someone else is staying in the lodge and shoot him instead. When they discover their mistake, they attempt to frame the boss for the murder.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Technically McCabe is a prosecutor rather than a cop (although he is an ex-cop) but otherwise the relationship between the Fatman and Jake fits this trope.
  • Only Known by Initials: J.L. (Jason Lochenbar) McCabe, the eponymous Fatman.
  • Parents for a Day: In "Pretty Baby", Jake, McCabe and Derek take turns looking after a baby while they search for the infant's mother who witnessed a murder.
  • Parking Payback: In "You Turned the Tables on Me", a pretty young prosecutor steals the parking space Jake has been waiting for. Jake takes revenge by stealing the distributor cap from her car, forcing her to get a ride home with him.
  • Phone-In Detective: McCabe would send Styles out to do his legwork for him.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episode "Ain't Misbehavin'", with Nell Carter as a tough bail bondswoman.
  • Prison Episode: In "Danny Boy", McCabe's bottled-up feelings are unleashed when he's called to the state prison where his inmate son witnessed a murder.
  • Recorded Spliced Conversation: In the episode "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie", McCabe and Jake splice together parts of McCabe's priest's sermons and call his wife, who's also his killer, as well as the killer of two women who were involved with him, in an effort to get her to confess. It does the job.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Daniel McCabe in his second appearance. Finally feeling guilt during a prison escape gone horribly wrong and getting shot for it, Daniel, rather than conserving his energy to heal, gets up and distracts his former partners to save his father before dying in the ambulance. McCabe never gets over his son's death and bitterly regrets having given up on him early on after this, occasionally mentioning him when a troubled parent-child relationship pops up.
  • Retool: The series moved to Hawaii at the start of the third season before returning to Los Angeles midway through season 4.
  • Revealing Injury: In "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan", Jake shoots at a disguised figure who is faking a limp, and thinks that he panicked the man into forgetting which leg he was limping on. Later, he realises that the killer is too professional to make that mistake and he had actually hit him in the other leg, forcing him to limp for real. He later finds one of the suspects tending a wound on that leg and has his suspicions confirmed.
  • Serial Killer: In "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", a serial killer who's targeting winos taunts McCabe with phone calls before each killing.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: After a journalist is dumped by her lover, she murders his wife and makes it look like the work of a Serial Killer in "More Than You Know".
  • Tag Team Twins: In "Blues in the Night", a pair of twin jewel thieves proves to be a challenge for McCabe as he unknowingly provides an alibi for one sister while the other commits a murder.
  • Twisted Christmas: In "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", it's Christmastime, but McCabe isn't feeling so jolly as an ambitious assistant DA helps Jake find a murderous Santa Claus.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: McCabe (a no-nonsense and very large prosecutor) has a pet bulldog named Max who looks quite a bit like him.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: In "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die", a mousy bookkeeper who's been poisoned spends his last days helping Jake find the rat who did it.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After McCabe wins a gangster's trial, said gangster's lawyer congratulates him and calls him his inspiration.
    Lawyer: There's very few people I told such compliment.
    McCabe: That's not a compliment. That's an insult!