|Spenser: For Hire|
|Based on||Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker|
|Developed by||John Wilder|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||66, and 4 TV movies (List of Episodes)|
|Running time||approx. 48 minutes per episode|
|Production companies||John Wilder Productions|
Warner Bros. Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 20, 1985 –|
May 7, 1988
|Followed by||A Man Called Hawk|
Spenser: For Hire is an American crime drama series based on Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels. The series, developed for TV by John Wilder and starring Robert Urich, was broadcast on ABC from September 20, 1985 until May 7, 1988.
The series ran on ABC from September 20, 1985, to May 7, 1988. Despite frequent time slot changes and occasional pre-emptions, the show garnered decent ratings. Location shooting ultimately led to the show's demise, with costs being cited as one of the main reasons why ABC cancelled it. Filmed largely in Boston, which was considered one of the show's strong points, it featured shots from many locations, even showing the harsh winters there (notably in the pilot). The show's music was produced by Steve Dorff and Larry Herbstritt.
The series was estimated to have generated $50 million for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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Spenser is the only name used for this character throughout the show. While it is clear in the novel that Spenser is the character's last name, this is not made clear in the TV series until episode 03x01: "Homecoming" ("Silverman's back and Spenser's got her" quote scene). According to a popular rumor, Parker was going to name the character David, after one of his sons, but changed his mind out of consideration for his other son, Daniel. In "An Eye For An Eye," Spenser quotes 16th-century poet Edmund Spenser, who may be the inspiration for the name since the spelling is identical. When introducing himself, he often says "Spenser with an 'S', like the poet." Spenser is surprisingly sophisticated for a private eye and former boxer. In "The Choice", it is revealed that Spenser fared poorly in a professional fight 12 years ago, which might have contributed to him leaving the profession. However, he still boxes and exercises at Henry Cimoli's Gym. He is well-read, often quoting poetry in everyday conversation. He is also an excellent cook, often making recipes he picks up from watching Julia Child on his kitchen counter television.
Spenser lives in Boston, initially at 357 Massachusetts Avenue, and drives distinctive cars. His first is a mildly-worn out, ivy green '66 Ford Mustang (possibly a nod to Steve McQueen's Mustang in Bullitt) which is destroyed at the beginning of the second season. It is succeeded by a new 1987 Mustang 5.0 GT which, five episodes later, is traded for a perfectly restored 1966 Mustang GT which gets banged up over the remaining run of the show.
In the novels, Spenser had served as an infantryman in the 1st Infantry Division during the Korean War. However, the television version of the character was younger than his literary counterpart, and acknowledged being a veteran of the Vietnam War in the series' pilot episode. Spenser was also a former member of the Boston police force and occasionally cooperates with the BPD in the series.
In "Children of the Tempest Storm", Ms. Silverman reveals that she is pregnant with Spenser's child. The word abortion comes up when talking with her doctor, and is discussed throughout the episode, though often not using the word. Susan and Spenser discuss the issue and are at odds over the moral dilemma before them. Spenser, a Catholic, does not know if he can stay with Susan, though he loves her deeply, if she aborts. He believes it is only for her convenience that she would choose abortion. In the end, she has the abortion, and he brings her flowers. They silently affirm that the relationship will continue. After Susan leaves the show, ADA Rita Fiore becomes Spenser's love interest during the second season, but they do not seem to develop the personal bond that was apparent with Silverman.
After his apartment goes up in flames at the start of the second episode, Spenser moves into a "firehouse", given to him by grateful local firefighters for saving the life of a firefighter at his apartment building. It is situated on the corner of River Street, near Mt. Vernon Square and Beacon Hill. In the second season, we find that the Fire Department took the station back as they needed it and Spenser finds himself in a small top floor apartment in Charlestown, near the old Boston Navy Yard which he now uses as his office.
Hawk (Avery Brooks) is the street-wise black kid who grew up to become a smartly dressed enforcer. Though he is for hire, he has a code of ethics and generally works on the side of good. In the pilot episode ("Promised Land"), he and Spenser obviously have respect for each other, and he switches over from King Powers' (Chuck Connors) side to Spenser's side when he does not like the way Powers is doing things. Hawk carries a Colt Python .357 Magnum as his weapon of choice.
Lt. Quirk and Spenser have an uneasy relationship but often work together. In the episode "Heart of the Matter", Quirk suffers an angina attack and reluctantly accepts the fact that he must retire after 35 years on the force.
The series consisted of three seasons (1985–1988) with a total of 66 episodes, and was followed by a series of four made-for-TV movies (1993–1995).
|DVD Name||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Spenser: The Movie Collection||4||
On August 26, 2014, Warner Bros. released the first season on DVD via their Warner Archive Collection. This is a manufacture-on-demand (MOD) release, available through Warner's online store and Amazon.com. Warner's website explains that the initial disc run was pressed traditionally "to meet expected high consumer demand". The second season was released on May 12, 2015. The third and last season was released on September 1, 2015.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||22||August 26, 2014.|
|The Complete Second Season||22||May 12, 2015.|
|The Complete Third Season||21||September 1, 2015.|
Spin-offs and remakes
In an April 23, 2009, blog entry Robert Parker stated that he was in talks with TNT to produce a remake of the series. However, Parker died in 2010 before these plans could take place.
Notable guest stars
- Angela Bassett
- Patricia Clarkson
- Chuck Connors
- Ruby Dee
- Laurence Fishburne
- Sarah Michelle Gellar
- Seth Green
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Eriq La Salle
- Melissa Leo
- Andie MacDowell
- William H. Macy
- Frances McDormand
- Ed O'Neill
- David Hyde Pierce
- Ving Rhames
- Jimmy Smits
- Clarice Taylor
- "City Council President Bruce Bolling entered the 'Save Our..." United Press International. March 25, 1987. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- FAQ, Robert B. Parker, MindSpring, October 1, 2016.
- "Spenser: For Hire - Movie Collection Artwork". Archived from the original on September 28, 2012.
- "Spenser: For Hire - 4 New DVD Releases Break Up The Old Box Set". Archived from the original on September 28, 2012.
- "Spenser: For Hire DVD news: Announcement for Spenser: For Hire - The Complete 1st Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on August 31, 2014.
- "Spenser: For Hire DVD news: Release Date for Spenser: For Hire - The Complete 2nd Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on May 1, 2015.
- "The Return of the Blogger". robertbparker.typepad.com. Robert Parker. Retrieved March 3, 2017.