The Rise Of

Shields Of Justice


On the 5th November 1971 a memo appeared on the desk of Director John Huston, asking if he would be interested in directing a pilot for the newly named series; 'Shields Of Flaming Justice.'



'No,' Huston replied, calling Eli's home phone. "I've never heard of it and I've never heard of you either. Why would i want to direct that?"

In a terse few minutes, Eli read the first four pages of the Justice manuscript to him over the phone, when he had finished, there was no reply - only a gentle sobbing could be heard on the line.

"Jesus wept!" Huston exclaimed. "All my life, i didn't have a clue what i was doing...all my life, wasted!"

"Not wasted...," Eli quickly added. "But waiting."

Huston agreed to direct the project for free (though for legal reasons his name was not used during release, as he was already contracted to another studio.)

With a director in place, Eli sent his casting agent Rick Rykanbaker to find actors worthy of playing the films leads.


The Making Of A Man:


Rick's first find was an up-and-coming actor called; Stryke Elkins, who would later play Burn.

Stryke had made a name for himself as a country singer, but was looking for something new to get his teeth into, so far his credentials were mostly B-Movies and the odd advertising job.

Eli dismissed him initially, saying his moustache made him 'look like a f*cking Mexican'. Rick asked if Elkins would shave, but he refused, claiming it was his trademark.

Eli further added that; 'he would call [Elkins] back when he needed some spik to shine his shoes."

Rick was more hopeful of his second choice for Crash - a young man named Rock Murphy (David Soul was initially approached but claimed he had no intention of appearing in mainstream TV).

Murphy was already famous - a war hero who was the second most decorated soldier in America (second only to his own uncle, Audie, who had died that very year.)

Rock had single handedly captured a dugout full of Vietcong soldiers and rescued ten GIs, carrying many of them on his back as he trekked through the deadly jungles.

Life Magazine

Eli liked the idea, but dismissed him, saying; 'his hair makes him look like a f*cking bumboy!'

Rick asked Murphy if he would have a haircut, but he refused, saying he had promised he would grow it for his mother.

It was then that Rick Rykanbaker showed his true strength in negotiation.

In a series of memos, letters, phone calls and conversations - rick convinced Eli that Elkins and Murphy were the perfect choice for their eponymous leads.

This was no mean feat, and the battle raged for several weeks. By the end of it however, Eli had no doubt that these were his heroes.

His last memo to Rick was a crude drawing of Elkins and Murphy being abused by Tilsbury's CEOs with the commentary - 'We'll make stars of those two queers yet!'


The Smile Of A Child:


The stage was set, the actors in place. With Huston at the wheel, nothing could go wrong.

On the 28th of May 1972 at approximately 11am, cameras rolled on the newly renamed Shields Of Justice. (Huston convinced Eli to remove the word 'Flaming' from the title, as he said it made the project sound 'too British')

The pilot episode - 'World Gone Mad' was shot in just under three days, an impressive time given the episodes 90 minute runtime.


Episode One Intro


Eli was heard to comment that the chemistry of their lead actors made the splitting of the atom look like an 'air biscuit.'

All were overjoyed and within just two months, shooting had completed on the entire season.

All that was left was for it to be aired...


Hearts Of The World:


Despite all that had happened, none could predict what would come next.

On the 11th of September 1971 the first episode of Shields Of Justice was finally aired.

A staggering 69 million viewers tuned in, almost 33% of the population of North America!

The figure kept climbing with each following episode though, and by the end of the first season nearly 105 million people were watching Shields Of Justice - almost half the population of America at the time!

The newspapers coined it 'Justice Fever' - even President Nixon mentioned it in a speech, citing Crash and Burn as 'true American Heroes.'

Eli was was overjoyed, but he knew not to rest on his laurels.

Work went ahead immediately to prepare for a second season, unbeknownst of the success that would follow.


Money Mad:


In Spring 1973, the second season of Shields Of Justice aired to an astonished audience.

The viewing figures were consistently high throughout, however, some critics were less kind. Episodes such as 'Circus Folk!' and 'Beautiful Hooker', were dismissed as lacking the punch of the previous season.

'Justice Fever' was still catching though and a heavy wave of merchandise, comics and spin-offs ensured the balloon remained afloat.

Shields Of Justice Lunch Box

Eli needed more than that though, and in a letter sent to him direct from the Whitehouse, Nixon personally asked for 'A stronger third season'.

A year long hiatus occurred whilst Tilsbury's writing team worked hard on scripts, desperate to outdo themselves.

By this point Eli had started drinking heavily, often turning up to boardroom meetings in his underwear - swearing and mumbling to himself about 'gooks' and 'golly wogs'.

Increasingly xenophobic, he even beat one of his stage hands into unconsciousness, after he had spoken to him in what he called a 'swarthy tone'.

By now, even long-time casting director Rick Rykanbaker wasn't safe. Eli attempted to invoke a sexual harassment lawsuit, all because he had looked at him 'in a suggestive way'. The lawsuit flunked and an embittered Eli fired his old friend, laughing at him from an upper-storey window as he came in for work one morning.

This discord was out of the public eye though. Murphy and Elkins were now celebrity figures, touring the country together with their band 'The Groovy Gang'. Even in Cambodia, Crash and Burn were more widely recognised than Jimi Hendrix, Richard Nixon or even Jesus Christ.

By 1975 the third season of Shields Of Justice finally aired and this time to the response it desired.

Critics hailed the series as a masterpiece, a true return to form.

By now there were many copycat shows, such as the inferior 'Starsky and Hutch' and Eli tried to pass countless court injunctions, none of which would work.

His writing team were priceless and victory was repeated again the following year with a glorious season four.

However, the strain was starting to show. Eli's behavior had gotten worse, he now spoke to most of the crew in a language he called 'the king's speech', and a translator had to be employed at all times to help his staff communicate.

On top of this, his refusal to wear clothes was causing some friction and only massive payoffs ensured the cast's loyalty to the project.

Only Murphy and Elkins remained unshakable throughout.

Season four aired in 1976 and featured many popular characters from the previous season.

The release was heralded with more glorious news, as Murphy and Elkins opened the newly built 'Justice Land' theme park in California (now Taco Bell).

Thousand queued to ride on 'Rappappaport's Big Desk', or witness Biscotti's Notepad. The park also boasted the Crash and Burn 'Parole-a-coaster' which was over seven miles long.


The Sorrows Of Satan:


Eli was now distanced from the world of Shields, spending his days locked in his private home theatre, watching reruns of Dragnet and urinating into bottles.

With a free hand the Shields team tried something new, launching their innovative fifth season - '36 Hours To Madness'.

For the first time in televisual history, the serialized events of the show unfolded in real time - taking place over a gruelling 36 hour case.

36 hours poster

Test audiences for the season were left traumatized, many having to be treated for fatigue, dehydration and eye strain.

As innovative as the season was though - fans did not enjoy the darker elements of the show. Burn's breakdown into alcoholism and Crash's brutal torture, left many viewers depressed and with an overwhelming sense of worthlessness.


An Unseen Enemy:

In season six the writers and producers promised a return to form, keeping the feel good themes and simplified moralistic outcomes of the original.

Beginning with a clean slate, season five was completely ignored in terms of any over-riding plot arc and was never referenced accept in ironic snatches of dialogue.

Trouble was brewing though and a declining Eli Caesar began to suspect even the most trusted of his team. Actors were followed at night and photographed from afar by a fastidious team of private investigators - though what he suspected was not yet clear.

In 1978, at the end of the shows sixth season, the first of a two-part episode was aired. This episode (Cop Killa!) left audiences on the edge of their seats and the second part - 'The Devil Wears Beige', drew nearly 200 million viewers - over 87% of the population.

Chaos ensued across the country as even emergency service operators refused to work during the forty-five minute broadcast which still holds the world record today as one of the highest grossing broadcasts of all time - drawing more viewers worldwide than the moon landings, the rumble in the jungle and Michael Jackson's funeral, all put together!

The two-parter was also innovative in that it was shot in 'broadscreen', with 5.1 'Around Sound' - later copied by Dolby.

The night after it's airing, a party was held at Tilsbury Studios, but Eli refused to show.

He instead addressed his staff by telecom - threatening to murder their families if they did not repeat the success; 'again and again, forever and ever!'

A short film he had prepared was screened and the Tilsbury staff were horrified to see footage of their Company Director before them - rolling naked and laughing in piles of money and gold.

What should have been a celebration, turned to a legal review, as hundreds of contracts were looked over, all desperate to avoid Caesar's next debacle.

"He's literally gone to far," a weary Murphy was heard to say. "The Bastard's literally over the edge."

There was no escaping the stranglehold though - they were contractually bound, just as Eli had said.

The small print read that they would indeed have to; 'continue to perform at Mr. Caesar's discretion, again and again. forever and ever, until the were no longer able to do so'.

Even the greatest lawyers in all the world could not untangle this web of deception.


Go To - 'The Fall'.





The Production

The Original Series

The Characters


"Go do what you usually do, only a bit faster than you'd normally do it and with higher stakes and greater oppertunity to show fate, just how tough you men really are!"