It’s 9:28 pm
So before I started top write this review,Paladin decided to play “Hawk” and raced around the house. I had to follow behind him and make BMW noises and then the “BOOM” from Hawk’s famous .357 hand cannon. Of course you already know that when and if I review either “The Flash” or “Smallville”,my house is done for.
I got season three from my “streetwise contact” over at Warner Brothers Archives and said I would contact him for season four soon. He sadly reminded me that “Spenser: For Hire” ran for only three years. I actually knew this but I had so much fun watching season two….I guess I just chose to forget this small fact.
Season three finds Spenser missing his Susan. He thinks he sees her 2-4 times a day,every day. So while he is missing her,he still has to earn a living and season three sees Spenser working harder then ever and the cases are even more rugged and in many cases,much more tragic.
This season has very little of the playfulness of the first seasons and the season opener “Homecoming” sets the tone for the season. Spenser is hired to bring home a cop who worked deep undercover and got a mobster’s youngest son sent to prison and the father wants revenge. The father of the cop seeks to broker a deal with mobster as he is a judge and he will use his influence to get the younger son and heir to the crime boss’s criminal empire. But when a hot blooded older brother gets involved and wants it for himself,a lot of lives are going to changed forever….including Spenser as he is shocked by the return of Susan Silverman.
Hawk and Spenser clash hard in a pair of tough cases..”My Enemy,My Friend” sees a young man who wants to be like Hawk witness a double murder,when Spenser wants the teen to come in,Hawk steps in and a friendship is tested.
“Skeletons In the Closet” sees Spenser hired by a powerful judge to recovery a book that could ruin the judge’s career. When Spenser accidentally uncovers evidence that the judge may have blood on his hands,including someone close to Hawk,the race is on to find the book even if it means killing Spenser.
Some story lines today were being covered in this season as Susan is sexually harassed by a professor who is teaching a class she needs to get her doctorate degree in the episode “Consilum Abditum”. Susan turns to Hawk for help because she doesn’t want to go off half cocked. Hawk steps in to “chat” with the professor in one of the best Hawk moments of the series.
Drug use and its fallout is covered as Sgt. Frank Belson’s niece Lori overdoses and dies using cocaine in the sad episode “To the End of the Line”. Spenser and Hawk try to break up a drug ring on one hand while trying to make sure Belson doesn’t lose his job as he seeks revenge.
Despite “Spenser” never having the strongest ratings,it didn’t stop ABC from making several attempts to spin-off shows. They tried spinning off Hawk’s character by having him move to Washington,D.C. in the show “A Man Called Hawk”. It ran on Saturdays and never got any real traction and was canceled after 13 episodes. Sadly,Warner Brothers doesn’t have the rights or else we would be looking at that show as well.
ABC tried again with two potential back door pilot episodes in “Play It Again,Sammy” which brought back the con man Sammy Backlin from the first season. It was most light hearted episode of the season and had a open ending that would have seen Sammy working in Boston in his own show. It didn’t work as ABC didn’t sniff at it.
The second attempt was made in one of the best episodes of the series in “McAllister”.
Tom McAllister is a defense attorney with a passion for the truth and a very lethal skill set that he can call on if needed. Wrongly accused of killing a Army officer who was mass killing a village in Vietnam,McAllister knows what its like to be on the wrong side of being falsely accused. When a black Navy sailor is accused of killing his white girlfriend (and his captain’s daughter to boot),McAllister is his only chance to prove his innocence.
Drama wise,this may have been the best season of Spenser but to me,it was maybe the bleakest and full of nasty unaddressed plot holes. Actress Carolyn McCormick,who stepped as Rita Fiore in Season Two is not found in Season Three. Her name isn’t even mentioned!! Now mind you,Rita is a key figure in the book series and to simply drop her character without any explanation must have irked a lot of the hardcore Spenser fans.
Then when the show had Lt. Marty Quirk (Richard Jaeckel) retire due to a bad heart,I think that must sealed Spenser’s fate. Two key players dropped most likely for budget reasons might have saved money but end up hurting the show over all. Sgt. Belson (Ron McLarty) was given more to do and used a lot less as comic relief but Quirk was just too important to let go.
And no,Martin Quirk didn’t retire in the book series either,in fact he made Captain….go figure,right?
One thing held true in Season Three of Spenser and that is the incredible guest stars that popped up. William H. Macy made is 3rd appearance as FBI Agent Efrem Connors in “Play It Again it,Sammy” and he is a blonde in this episode! Kate Burton as pops up in this episode.
Famed actor and the voice of the CBS Radio Mystery Show,E.G. Marshall,played the corrupt judge in “Skeletons in the Closet”.
Andie McDowell and Ving Rhames both popped up in “McAllister”. Kenneth Welsh,who I just saw in the film “ “Surfacing” played Quirk’s replacement, Lt. Nicholas Webster for three episodes…talk about deja vu!! There are a lot more familiar faces as well for new viewers to go see and say “THEY were in “Spenser?”.
The acting was pretty strong among the three leads but I feel the writers never did fully use Avery Brooks to the potential we later saw in Star Trek:TNG and Star Trek:Deep Space 9. Hawk had some good moments in Season Three but he was starting to be used solely as Spenser’s “back up” in every episode and that wasn’t and isn’t who Hawk was.
I did notice they got the relationship between Hawk and Susan on point,he adores her and you get the feeling he helps Spenser just because of Susan.
Barbara Stock returned as Susan and while she did a fine job as the love of Spenser’s life,I so much more enjoyed Carolyn McCormick’s turn as Rita.
And of course Robert Urich just got better and better as Spenser,he kept on adding more emotional depth with each episode and wasn’t afraid to show that Spenser sometimes had feet of clay,especially is the tragic episode “Child’s Play” where he shoots and kills a teen after an assassin takes a shot at him. Two boys were shooting a gun that belongs to the father of one of the boys. When the boy turns towards to Spenser with the gun hand,a terrible and tragic action occurs,Urich plays Spenser as brokenhearted and questioning himself.
The third season of “Spenser: For Hire” consists of 21 episodes. The Warner Brother Archives DVD contains no special features. You can buy this release on their website..
It’s been a real pleasure to share an entire series from my younger days with you here.
Special thanks to my streetwise contact “MP” from Warner Brothers for hooking the cheetah and I up.
Is there any retro shows you like for the cheetah and I to check out? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!!