Remington Steele & Laura Holt (Remington Steele)

Created by Michael Gleason and Robert Butler

“Try this for a deep dark secret: The great detective Remington Steele… He doesn’t exist. I invented him. Follow: I’d always loved excitement, So I studied and apprenticed, and put my name on an office. But absolutely no one knocked on my door. A female private investigator seemed so… feminine. So I invented a superior. A decidedly masculine superior. Suddenly there were cases around the block. It was working like a charm. Until the day he walked in, with his blue eyes and mysterious past. And before I knew it, he assumed Remington Steele’s identity. Now I do the work, and he takes the bows. It’s a dangerous way to live, but as long as people buy it, I can get the job done. We never mix business with pleasure. Well…almost never. I don’t even know his real name!”

That about sums up rookie private eye LAURA HOLT‘s original plan. Invent a male superior to attract clients to her fledgling detective agency. And it all works swell, until a mysterious, albeit charming hunk of scam artist shows up, claiming he is REMINGTON STEELE.

And then he won’t leave. However, Laura and he hit it off, and she realizes he may be useful, after all. He soon joins Laura, Murphy, another op, and their secretary Bernice, in the agency.

Not terribly swift at times, Remington nevertheless managed to always, somehow, keep one lie ahead of the game (shades of Rockford!), while Laura’s attempts to dig up Steele’s real identity (hell, he couldn’t be Steele–she made up the name!) soon revealed that even he didn’t have one. This became an important subplot, as the series progressed and more of his past was revealed.

Of course, this being the eighties, there was the obligatory sexual friction between the two. Obligatory, but tenuous at times–Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan looked like Barbie dolls. Think Sam and Diane of Cheers as private eyes, with less charm and wit, and you wouldn’t be far off. Writer and producer Glenn Gordon Caron, in fact, left the show after one season, to create Moonlighting, which was remarkably similar–a fact that didn’t please Brosnan, who was growing increasingly frustrated with the show, and its temporary cancellation in 1986. “Moonlighting [is] a direct steal which has just done it in a different, much fresher way,” he told People  in 1986. “At least they take risks.”

At the start of the second season, IRS agent Mildred Krebs joins the agency, having tired of trying to nail Steele on non-payment of taxes (it’s hard to tax a guy who doesn’t exist). Bits and pieces of his past continued to bubble to the surface. It turns out he has a mentor of sorts, Daniel Chalmers, an older conman, who pops up at inconvenient times (played by Stephanie Zimbalist’s real life dad, Efram Zimbalist, Jr.). Immigration tries to deport him. Old girlfriends (always in trouble) turn up with alarming frequency. Rumours of criminal acts are whispered. Fun stuff.

And don’t get me wrong — it was fun stuff. Fluffy-light comedy with romantic overtones, and enough cleverness, stylish clothes and attractive leads (not to mention some world-class groaner pun episode titles) to keep going for several seasons. At the end of the fourth season, in what was to be the final episode, “Bonds of Steele,” Laura and Remington finally get married, and theoretically live happily ever after, with actor Pierce Brosnan slated to be the next James Bond.

Unfortunately for him, NBC decided all the free publicity swirling around was reason enough to extend the series for one more season. So Timothy Dalton became the new Bond, and Remington Steele returned for a fifth season. Well, sorta

Season five ended up being a half-hearted, half-ass collection of episodes and a two-part series finale that tied up a few loose ends, revealing a deep, dark secret from Remington’s past, and had him inheriting a castle in Ireland. A fairy tale ending to a series that was pretty much a fairy tale anyways, and yet it lacked the wit that had made the show worth watching in the first place.

In fact, in the original concept, the character of Remington Steele wasn’t even going to exist–it was only after NBC insisted on a male lead did creators Michael Gleason and Robert Butler made him flesh. So there’s a bitter irony in that a show at first intended to be built around a strong female lead is now more commonly thought of as “that Pierce Brosnan show.”

TELEVISION

 

  • REMINGTON STEELE
    (1982-87, NBC)
    88 one-hour episodes, 3 two-hour episodes
    Created by Michael Gleason and Robert Butler
    Writers: Michael Gleason, Lee Zlotoff, Glenn Gordon Caron, Joel Steiger, Richard Collins, Andrew Laskos, Duncan Smith, Joyce Armor, Susan Baskin, Brian Clemens, Richard Collins, Richard Deroy, Joe Gores, Brian Alan Lane, Brad Kern, Larry Konner, Gary Kott, Kerry Lenhart, George Lee Marshall, Jeff Melvoin, Rick Mittleman, Judy Neer, Pamela Norris, John Pashdag, Mitch Paradise, John J. Sakmar, Bob Shayne, Brady Westwater, John Wirth, Stephanie Zimbalist
    Directors: Robert Butler, Jeff Bleckner, Leo Penn, Burt Brinckerhoff, Sidney Hayers, Seymour Robbie, RJ Stewart, Don Weis, Nick Havinga, Karen Arthur, Gabrielle Beaumont, Larry Elikann, Harry Harris, Christopher Hibler, Kevin Inch, Rocky Lang, Sheldon Larry, Stan Lathan, Peter Medak, Barbara Peters, Alexander Singer, Seymour Robbie, Kevin Connor,
    Producer: Glenn Gordon Caron (1st season)
    Executive Producer: Michael Gleason
    Produced by MTM Enterprises Inc.
    Theme song by Henry Mancini
    Music by Henry Mancini, Richard Lewis Warren, Donald Nemitz
    Starring Pierce Brosnan as REMINGTON STEELE
    and Stephanie Zimbalist as LAURA HOLT
    with Doris Roberts as Mildred Krebs
    James Read as Murphy Michaels (first season)
    Janet DeMay as Bernice Fox (first season)
    Jack Scalia as Tony Roselli (fifth season)
    Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Daniel Chalmers
    Guest stars: Sharon Stone, Geena Davis, Paul Reiser, Tom Baker (Dr. Who), Beverly Garland, Peter Scolari, Betty Kennedy, Peter Jurasik (Sid!), Annie Potts, Allyce Beasley, Dorothy Lamour, Virginia Mayo, Lloyd Nolan, Tracy Scoggins, Michael Constantine, John Larroquette, Joe Santos, Robert Pastorelli, Geena Davis, Dennis Farina, Louie Anderson, Rose Marie, Jennifer Tilly, Barbara Stock, Delta Burke

    • SEASON ONE | Buy this season on DVD | Watch it now!
    • License to Steele” (October 1, 1982)
    • Tempered Steele” (October 8, 1982)
    • Steele Waters Run Deep” (October 22, 1982)
    • Signed, Steeled, & Delivered” (October 29, 1982)
    • Thou Shalt Not Steele” (November 5, 1982)
    • Steele Belted” (November 12, 1982)
    • Etched in Steele” (November 19, 1982)
    • Your Steele the One For Me” (November 26, 1982)
    • “In the Steele of the Night” (December 3, 1982)
    • “Steele Trap” (December 10, 1982)
    • Steeling the Show” (January 7, 1983)
    • Steele Flying High” (January 14, 1983)
    • A Good Night’s Steele” (January 21, 1983)
    • Hearts of Steele” (January 28, 1983)
    • To Stop a Steele” (February 11, 1983)
    • Steele Crazy After All These Years” (February 18, 1983)
    • Steele Among the Living” (February 25, 1983)
    • Steele in the News” (March 4, 1983)
    • Vintage Steele” (March 15, 1983)
    • Steele’s Gold” (March 22, 1983)
    • Sting of Steele” (April 5, 1983)
    • Steele in Circulation” (April 12, 1983)
    • SEASON TWO | Buy this season on DVD | Watch it now!
    • Steele Away With Me” (September 20, 1983)
    • Red Holt Steele” (September 27, 1983)
    • Altared Steele” (October 11, 1983)
    • Steele Framed” (October 18, 1983)
    • A Steele at Any Price” (November 1, 1983)
    • Love Among the Steele” (November 8, 1983)
    • Scene Steelers” (November 15, 1983)
    • Steele Knuckles and Glass Jaws” (November 28, 1983)
    • My Fair Steele” (December 6, 1983)
    • Steele Threads” (December 13, 1983)
    • Steele Eligible” (January 10, 1984)
    • High Flying Steele” (January 17, 1984)
    • Blood is Thicker Than Steele” (January 31, 1984)
    • Steele Sweet on You” (February 7, 1984)
    • Elegy in Steele” (February 21, 1984)
    • Small Town Steele” (February 28, 1984)
    • Molten Steele” (March 6, 1984)
    • Dreams of Steele” (March 20, 1984)
    • Woman of Steele” (March 27, 1984)
    • Hounded Steele” (May 15, 1984)
    • Elementary Steele” (May 22, 1984)
    • SEASON THREE | Buy this season on DVD
    • Steele at It” (September 25, 1984)
    • Lofty Steele” (October 2, 1984)
    • Maltese Steele” (October 16, 1984)
    • Second Base Steele” (October 23, 1984)
    • Blue Blooded Steele” (October 30, 1984)
    • Steele Your Heart Away” (November 13, 1984)
    • A Pocketful of Steele” (November 20, 1984)
    • Puzzled Steele” (November 27, 1984)
    • Cast in Steele” (December 4, 1984)
    • Breath of Steele” (December 11, 1984)
    • Let’s Steele a Plot” (December 18, 1984)
    • Gourmet Steele” (January 8, 1985)
    • Stronger Than Steele” (January 15, 1985)
    • Have I Got a Steele For You” (January 22, 1985)
    • Springtime for Steele” (January 29, 1985)
    • Steele in the Family” (February 5, 1985)
    • Diced Steele” (February 12, 1985)
    • Now You Steele It, Now You Don’t” (March 5, 1985)
    • Illustrated Steele” (March 12, 1985)
    • Steele in the Chips” (March 19, 1985)
    • Steele Trying” (May 7, 1985)
    • Steele of Approval” (May 14, 1985)
    • SEASON FOUR | Buy this season on DVD
    • Steele Searching (Part One)” (September 25, 1985)
    • Steele Searching (Part Two)” (October 25, 1985)
    • Steele Blushing” (October 22, 1985)
    • Grappling Steele” (October 29, 1985)
    • Forged Steele” (November 12, 1985)
    • Corn Fed Steele” (November 19, 1985)
    • Premium Steele” (December 3, 1985)
    • Coffee, Tea or Steele” (December 10, 1985)
    • Dancer, Prancer, Donner and Steele” (December 17, 1985)
    • Steele on the Air” (January 7, 1986)
    • Steele, Inc.” (January 14, 1986)
    • Steele Spawning” (January 28, 1986)
    • Suburban Steele” (February 11, 1986)
    • Santa Claus is Coming to Steele” (February 18, 1986)
    • Steele Blue Yonder” (February 22, 1986)
    • Sensitive Steele” (March 1, 1986)
    • Steele in the Spotlight” (March 8, 1986)
    • Steele at Your Service” (March 15, 1986)
    • Steele in the Running” (March 22, 1986)
    • Beg, Borrow or Steele” (March 29, 1986)
    • Steele Alive and Kicking” (May 3, 1986)
    • Bonds of Steele” (May 10, 1986)
    • SEASON FIVE | Buy this season on DVD
    • The Steele That Wouldn’t Die” (January 5, 1987)
    • Steele Hanging in There (Part One)” (April 3, 1987)
    • Steele Hanging in There (Part Two)” (April 10, 1987)
    • Steeled With a Kiss (Part One)” (April 17, 1987)
    • Steeled With a Kiss (Part Two)” (April 24, 1987)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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