Normally, you'd think it odd to spotlight a series that lasted four seasons in a column like 'Gone Too Soon.' But 'Soap' was a different kind of series. Like the soap operas it was mocking, it was a premise that could have gone on for years and years. In fact, there's no reason to imagine that it couldn't still be on today.
From 1977 to 1981, Susan Harris crafted what would become a timeless comedy classic for ABC. But despite high ratings throughout its run, 'Soap' would only see four seasons, abruptly ending on a slew of cliffhangers that have frustrated fans for decades.
Despite that, the stellar cast and writing have stood the test of time in a way very few television series can, even if the wardrobes haven't. 'Soap' is as relevant and hilarious today as it was more than thirty years ago now. It deserved a longer life, and both the series and its fans deserved a true ending to Harris' brilliant vision.
No details yet, but Parker died at his desk in his Cambridge, MA home. When you're a writer that's probably the way to go.
If you only know Spenser from the TV series that starred Robert Urich (which was great), you should pick up the novels, too. He's been writing them since the 70s and they're quite good, very engaging first person mystery stories set in Boston. He started a new series of book based around the Jesse Stone character (who happens to live my neck of the woods), and while I've never read those novels I have seen the TV movies featuring Tom Selleck as Stone and they are very good. There's a new Jesse Stone novel coming out in May. Not sure if Parker had finished a new Spenser novel or not (his latest is The Professional).
I think it's time for a Spenser: For Hire marathon.
It's easy to forget how good a show Spenser: For Hire was. It was on for only three seasons over 20 years ago, it's not on DVD, and I don't think that it's being shown on television right now. But oh, this show was so good.
Robert Urich was the perfect Spenser and Avery Brooks was the perfect Hawk (years later, reading the books, I could only see Urich and Brooks as the characters). And on-location filming in Boston truly added a nice, realistic touch to the show (unlike the later movies, which were filmed in Toronto or some similar place). This show had smart writing, too, and the first person narration? Robert Parker was wrong when he said it was bad.
I just finished watching the now cancelled Viva Laughlin and I can totally understand why nobody watched the show. It was a total mess!
I was a fan of the BBC version (Viva Blackpool) and I really had high hopes for the Americanized drama. Sadly, the producers made way too many mistakes for this show to have even the slightest chance.
The first mistake they made was the decision to have the leads sing over the original songs. In the original version of the show, the actors lip-synced all the musical numbers which gave the show a really creepy quality. Especially when the male characters are doing a number like "These Boots Were Made for Walking." It was creepy and funny and weird and enjoyable to watch.
Welcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.
OK, so yesterday I gave my list of the Five Greatest Police Detectives, and several readers gave their lists. Today I thought I'd do the other end of the invesitgation spectrum, private eyes, amateur sleuths and other investigators. This list was even hard to do. So many great characters.
1. Spenser (Robert Urich): I picked this Boston-based private eye because he seemed to be a great mix of brain and brawn. The type of guy who could go to the ratty gym and knock around some boxer and then go off to a fancy Beacon Hill cafe and have coffee with his girlfriend and talk about politics or literature. He was smart, clever, caring, a wiseass, and ridiculously moral. What else do you want in a private eye?
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