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Toma was a short-lived television series that ran on ABC in 1973 and 1974.

The series starred Tony Musante and Susan Strasberg and was based on the real-life story and published biography of Newark, New Jersey police detective David Toma. Toma had compiled an amazing arrest record during his years on the force, particularly in arresting drug dealers.[1] Toma was known as a master of disguise and undercover work, and achieved his success while never firing his gun. After retiring from the force, Toma became one of America's most sought after speakers, lecturing students all over the country about the dangers of drugs. Toma himself usually made a cameo appearance in episodes as a minor character (bartender, police officer, etc.). His boss, Inspector Spooner, was played by character actor Simon Oakland.

The series received favorable reviews[2][3] as well as blistering criticism for its depictions of criminal and police violence.[4][5] Although Toma was achieving relatively good ratings,[6], the show was cancelled after just one season. A second season was planned but Tony Musante refused to continue with the show.[7][8] Musante had told the producers at the outset that he only wanted to do one season, but they mistakenly believed he would return if the series was renewed.[7][9]

The show was retooled as Baretta starring Robert Blake, with violent scenes toned down. Baretta debuted as a mid-season replacement on ABC in early 1975.[10] Blake's Baretta character was notably less intense than Musante's Toma, even introducing a comedic element in an attempt to placate critics.

According to interviews on The Greatest American Hero DVD set, a writers strike during the shooting of Toma is what indirectly led to The Rockford Files. Writer Stephen J. Cannell and his mentor Roy Huggins created the character of Jim Rockford as a way to get around an impossible schedule created by the strike.


  1. ^ "Newark Detective of Many Disguises Gets a Bit Part in TV Film of His Life; Still Wears Disguises". The New York Times. 1973-03-21.  
  2. ^ Smith, Cecil (1973-10-03). "Wambaugh Series a Genuine Article". Los Angeles Times.  
  3. ^ Adler, Dick (1974-01-25). "Toma - 'Rockabye' - Reality Enriches 'Gimmick' Series". Los Angeles Times.  
  4. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1973-10-05). "TV: For Chronic Dial Flipper, Mixed-Bag Season". The New York Times..  
  5. ^ Deeb, Gary (1973-10-04). "Police Story debut unmasks real cops". Chicago Tribune.  
  6. ^ Brown, Les (1974-02-14). "Midseason Correction Lifts A.B.C. to Second Place". The New York Times.  
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, John (1974-07-24). "TV: Star of Dropped 'Toma' Tells What Happened". The New York Times.  
  8. ^ Deeb, Gary (1974-05-23). "Gun-downed Toma is ready for a showdown with ABC". Chicago Tribune.  
  9. ^ Finnigan, Joseph (1974-06-29). "TV Teletype: Hollywood". TV Guide.  
  10. ^ Haber, Joyce (1974-11-04). "Networks Running Out of Seasons". Los Angeles Times.  

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