Jason Rogers

My friend, the killer: Christian Doherty (right) as Jason Rogers in the third and final movie in the series, MAKE A WISH (1973), with Tom Soter as Bob.


By Tom Sinclair

When I created the fictional detective Jason Rogers circa 1968, he was, shall we say, a tad unformed, a straw man somewhere between Ellery Queen and Mike Shayne. Background, age, character, little things like what he looked like or what race he was—all these details are conspicuously absent from early Rogers stories like THE NIGHT PAINTER and THE CYCLIST. All I knew was that, just as Tom Soter had created a detective named Sam Pappas and Christian Doherty came up with crime-solver George Tarrel, I needed a private investigator to write about in the Xeroxed magazines that Soter and Doherty edited.

From such roots emerged Jason Rogers (whose given name may or may not have been inspired by my reading about Jason and the Argonauts). But a funny thing happened with the character. Over the course of several stories he became, if not necessarily a better detective, then certainly a more interesting character. In later tales, such as THE DEAD PIG (1971), Rogers was depicted as a borderline psycho with a marked violent streak, a guy who elicited information by threatening to stab hotel clerks in the eye.

It’s sort of hard to remember how or why the transformation took place. Probably the simple fact of my entering adolescence was responsible for some of the differences between Rogers circa ’68-‘69 and Rogers circa ’71-’73. I wanted to have some fun, and what better way to have fun as a writer than to write about a reckless nut job with a badge and a gun?

Of course, the impact of the JASON ROGERS TR show and films that Christian Doherty cranked out with help from Soter and, occasionally, me, must not be overlooked. I suspect that Doherty’s freewheeling depiction of Rogers as half a whack-job probably ultimately influenced my take on JR (although I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law).

Curiously, I recently wrote a new script for Doherty’s 1973 Jason Rogers film MAKE A WISH. I wrote the character as I imagine Doherty would have played him—as a dangerous lunatic operating by his own rules and spurious logic. I had a blast writing it.

As you may have gathered, Jason Rogers had at least two widely divergent personas. I vastly prefer the latter. Take a look and a listen and let me know what you think. I’m really curious—for, you see, Jason Rogers is still essentially a cipher to the guy who created him.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: A character called "Jason Rogers" but not the Jason Rogers, appeared in a 1968 TR-movie, THE STRANGE CASE OF THE HYPNOTIZED MEN. The role was played by Tom Sinclair.]



Listen to:

The Strange Case of the Hypnotized Men
The Ch. 92 Movie Taped: 1968
Three detectives (Tom Soter, Robert Smith, Tom Sinclair) search the city for what seems to be a supernatural killer called Death. This movie introduces the detective Jason Rogers.

The Night Painter
Episode 1. Taped: 1970
Introducing tough guy detective Jason Rogers (Christian Doherty) in the first of a series based on the stories written by Tom Sinclair. First up: two brothers’ arguments over their grandfather’s inheritance lead to murder. Grandmother: Hedwig Zorb. Jarvis: Alan Saly.

The Cyclist
Episode 3 Taped: September 11, 1970
Rogers is called back from his vacation after a simple hit-and-run crime is tied in to his brother. Rogers: Christian Doherty. Nick: Sam Rosen.

The Deadly Double
Episode 6 Taped: March 26, 1971
Rogers seems to go on a robbery-and-killing spree, -but no one believes his claims that he has a double. Rogers: Christian Doherty. Bank clerk: Alan Saly.

A Smell of Poison
Episode 7. Taped: April 9, 1971
Rogers looks into the case of John Hutchinson, an elderly man who seems to have been poisoned. The clues point to a mysterious maid named Hera. Based on a story by Manger Dixon. Rogers: Christian Doherty. Big Guy: Tom Soter.

He Had All He Wanted
Episode 8 Taped: April 12, 1971
Rogers receives a tip that a murder has occurred at the Hudson estate – and everyone there seems to have had a motive. Based on a story by series star Christian Doherty (who also directed).

Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Episode 10 Taped: July 31, 1971
Rogers is implicated in the murder of John Pepitrius (Tom Sinclair) whom he was seen fighting with moments before Pepitrius was shot. Prosecutor: Tom Soter. Defense attorney: Ron Neilsen. Dohea: Jack Rosen.

Poison Only Works On Humans
Episode 11. Taped: September 13, 1971
Rogers (Christian Doherty) is poisoned with the ancient poison of the ti-ti plant and has only four hours to find the antidote. Doctor: Alan Saly.

Gun for Rogers
Made-for-TR Movie .Taped: 1971
Rogers teams with British sleuth Henry Sorelli (Patrick Johnson) in an adventure involving stolen spaceships.

The Dead Pig
Episode 12. Taped: February 15, 1972
Rogers investigates the death of Sammy Pig, an obese man who is murdered on the detective’s office doorstep. Based on a story by Tom Sinclair. Rogers: Christian Doherty. Woman: Hedwig Zorb.