It’s 2:34 pm
Its another and grey day here in SE Michigan. I have a feeling we’re getting a early winter this year. It’s sort of fitting that its cold as we just finished watching the second season of “Spenser:For Hire” and it seemed like 75% of the episodes had either snow,rain or it wanted to snow or rain. Not too many bright days in old Boston….
So after the cheetah and I finished the first season and reviewed it,Paladin asked if there was any more seasons and I said yes. I then reached out to my streetwise contact (every good cop show has a “streetwise contact”) at Warner Brothers Archives for a little help with the second season. He said he get on it and soon enough,a package popped up and when I told Paladin,err,”Hawk”…he was on the couch ready to head to Boston.
Okay,I am Spenser fan. I have read most of the books and I know Spenser and his true love Susan Silverman are basically Robert B. Parker and his wife Joan. I think it is very sweet and in many ways very telling of their marriage. Not the private detective stuff,that is made up,but the way Parker details the relationship between Spenser and Susan. There are three books in the series where Susan leaves Spenser and he has to deal with this. It’s a critical moment in the book series and the best arc Parker ever wrote.
So why am I am mentioning the book series? Because it plays a big part in the TV show as Susan Silverman’s character is not seen in season two,instead Carolyn McCormick as ADA Rita Fiore was brought in. Rita Fiore is a character in the Spenser books,she is portrayed as a slinky,sexy redhead with great legs and a sharp legal mind. She and Spenser flirt in the books but they never hooked up. I always enjoyed Rita in the books and quite honestly,I preferred McCormick’s Rita much more then Barbara Stock as Susan Silverman.
The second season opens with Spenser doing his narrative and explaining how Susan has gone to California to “find herself”. Spenser decides to take a job in a town where Susan and he had never been to so he can clear his head and his heart.
Thus the second season kicks off. I really enjoyed the second season much more then the first in many ways,the first seeing how Spenser and Hawk’s friendship grew much tighter. Avery Brooks continues to steal every scene he was in as Hawk,the enforcer with morals and loyalty without question.
There are a lot of strong episodes in season two and a few with not so happy endings (The Long Hunt) and (Home Is the Hero). Our heroes suffer many injuries as Lt. Martin Quirk, Hawk and Spenser all get shot during the second season.
Hawk being gunned down is part of a story line started in the first season when Spenser and Hawk tangled with Irish syndicate boss Tom Flaherty in the episode “Original Sin”.
In season two,Flaherty strikes back from jail…first trying to frame Hawk for shooting Quirk in the episode “Among Friends” which sets Sgt Frank Belson on a mission of revenge against Hawk.
In the season two finale,Hawk is shot and believed to dead and Spenser sets out to find who killed his best friend and getting help from a most unlikely source in “The Song of Orpheus”. This rare connecting of episodes worked well but was never properly used then in TV series as it is today. Single stand alone episodes were pretty much the norm unless there was a two-part episode.
The arcs should have been used more because in the books,Parker didn’t kill off his bad guys,he kept them in place as characters to both help and hinder his heroes. The best evidence of how this is shown can be found in the Jesse Stone TV movies with Stone’s interaction with mob boss Gino Fish (who also pops up in the Spenser books).
The interaction between Spenser and Rita Fiore is at first hostile as Spenser is being set up as a act of revenge from a man he busted who performing medicine without a license and killed a woman in the episode “An Eye for an Eye”. But as the season progresses they to be edging towards a possible relationship. The chemistry between Robert Urich’s Spenser and Carolyn McCormick’s Rita was a lot better then between Barbara Stock’s Susan. It felt more real but even when the show was on,Spenser fans wouldn’t have accepted that romance and so it wasn’t a big shock when Rita didn’t return for season three.
The other big issue I had with season was the lesser involvement of Richard Jaeckel’s Lt. Quirk,while he was in almost every episode,his role was severely cut,he was onscreen very little and most of that was badgering Belson. I don’t know why this happened as Jaeckel was a fine actor and more then held his own with anyone on camera. There was a lot of room to explore back story on these characters which I think would have really helped the series along. Not doing so did the cast no favors other then doing the same plots over and over too many times.
The guest stars for season two were outstanding as many well known faces just starting out popped up on a weekly basis. This is part of the great thing about looking back at an older series like “Spenser”. To see which casting director really knew thier craft in casting a weekly series,in this case…Donna Isaacson and John S. Lyons.
Season 2 featured guest turns by Samuel L. Jackson,Ed O’Neill,Melissa Leo,Nancy Travis,Laurence Fishburne,Marg Helgenberger,Tom Atkins,Lauren Holly, the voice actor for the great Batman animated shows,Kevin Conroy,Patricia Richardson,Tamara Tunie and Seth Green who was only 12 years old when he appeared! Like I said,lots of talent to be seen in season two.
I really enjoyed watching Urich and Brooks play off each other,the respect both men had for each other is clearly seen in the acting onscreen. Hawk saved Spenser’s ass more times then not in the final act,whether Spenser asked for help or not. In the first season,Hawk did that for money,going forward he did it out of loyalty and friendship.
Even Belson,who seemed to have a axe to grind with both Spenser and Hawk,started to warm up towards both men by the time the second ended. And that would be an important factor heading into the third and sadly,last season of “Spenser : For Hire”.
You can buy season two of Spenser: For Hire at the Warner Brothers website.
This DVD set contains all 22 episodes of season two.
Too learn more Robert B. Parker, please visit his website
The cheetah and I both give this two thumbs/3 paws up.
Feel free and share your memories of this show,we would love to hear from you!!