was an American television series first broadcast on the NBC network from 1982 to 1987. The show took an offbeat approach to the standard TV detective genre, with ironic plotting and elements of romantic comedy.
Stephanie Zimbalist plays Laura Holt
, a private detective who finds that her potential customers are unwilling to hire a woman. Business picks up when she invents a fictitious male superior named Remington Steele. In the first episode, she encounters a Humphrey Bogart-loving thief, played by Pierce Brosnan, who accidentally takes on the Remington Steele persona in order to escape a pair of murderous thugs. By the end of the episode, he chooses to make the alias permanent. The real name of Brosnan's character was never revealed; in later episodes, it was revealed that Steele did not know his birth name, and his attempts to discover it became a running theme. In the show's pilot episode (which was actually the second episode broadcast), Laura reveals that she took the name "Remington" from a brand of typewriter and "Steele" from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One running joke throughout the series was "Steele's" penchant for quoting lines from famous movies as ersatz bits of philosophy, and occasionally using techniques from cinematic mysteries to attempt to solve crimes, with variable degrees of success. A number of plotlines were openly inspired by famous film noir thrillers, such as the first-season episode "Steele Flying High" that takes its lead from the Bogart classic The Maltese Falcon.
The first season included two recurring characters, James Read who played Zimbalist's real partner, Murphy Michaels
, and Janet DeMay, their secretary and periodic rescuer, Bernice Foxe
(whom Steele often misnamed "Wolf"). Early episodes tended to be "simple", focusing on the story without too much flash. The series tended to focus on the sexual tension between the leads as much as the plots of the episodes themselves. NBC decided that the show was worthy of considerably more attention and re-tooled the format for the second season. Read was removed in order to allow the romance between Holt and Steele to develop; his character pined for Holt and the producers felt this was a hinderance, so Murphy opened his own detective agency in Denver. DeMay simply disappeared with a single-sentence explanation, replaced by the acerbic Doris Roberts as former IRS agent Mildred Krebs
. Mildred proved to be a capable investigator in her own right, and grew to be an amalgam of Bernice, Murphy and Laura's mother as the series progressed. The "new" Remington Steele was a bigger-budget production with more flash and a more lively opening credits sequence that emphasized the action and adventure of the series.
The new format lasted for three more years before the series was cancelled at the end of the 1985-86 television season. After several seasons of "teasing" and nothing happening between Holt and Steele the format ran its course. Brosnan was then named the newest actor to play James Bond for the film, The Living Daylights. NBC, who still had Brosnan under contract, chose to renew Remington Steele for another year in order to capitalize on Brosnan becoming the new James Bond; this backfired, and Brosnan subsequently lost the role to Timothy Dalton as Bond film producer Cubby Broccoli stated he did not want Bond to be identified with a current TV series and the producers of Remington Steele refused to release Brosnan from his contract in the light of increased popularity generated by the Bond rumours. Brosnan would finally become 007 in 1995.
The final abbreviated season consisted of several made-for-TV films broadcast over the course of a few months, including installments filmed on location in places like Ireland. Jack Scalia joined the cast as an Indiana Jones-inspired rival for Laura's affections. This new format was not very popular with audiences, and low ratings coupled with reports of on-the-set tension (due in part to Brosnan's resentment at losing the Bond role) resulted in the series being cancelled for good in the spring of 1987 (ironically long before the release of Living Daylights). The final scene of the series showed Steele and Laura finally about to consummate their relationship.
North American DVD release of the first season occurred on July 26, 2005, with season 2 following on November 8, 2005 and season 3 on April 18, 2006. The first season DVD inadvertently echoed an ongoing joke in the series in that Stephanie Zimbalist -- who had top star billing when the show was on the air -- was initially omitted from all promotional material connected with its release -- as well as the DVD box itself, as Fox Video chose instead to promote Pierce Brosnan as the sole star. Subsequently, a sticker saying "Also starring Stephanie Zimbalist" was added to the packaging as an afterthought. This omission was corrected with the release of the second season which not only gave Zimbalist star billing, but her photograph also appears on the box and Zimbalist herself was featured on the behind-the-scenes featurettes contained therein (having been absent from the season 1 featurettes).
- From Wikipedia