Monday, April 7, 2014

Mystery TV Nostalgia: Remington Steele

Last October NBC announced it was contemplating a Remington Steele reboot. According to Huffington Post, 

"If picked up to series, "Remington Steele" will be reimagined as a half-hour comedy and a sequel to the previous iteration, which ran from 1982 to 1987 on the Peacock network. The reboot will reportedly center on Olivia Holt, the daughter of Remington Steele (Brosnan) and Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist), "as she reopens the once-world-famous Remington Steele Detective Agency -- only to fall into the same hilarious, action-packed, romantic entanglements of her parents."

While we haven't heard anything new since October on this, we still have the original show at our finger today Kerry Hammond takes us on a journey in the way back machine to the era of Laura Holt and Remington Steele.

Remember when every other TV show wasn’t Law & Order?  Not that I don’t like Law and Order, or NCIS, or Bones, or CSI (I could go on for quite some time). But what happened to the amateur sleuths and private detectives? These days, most of the crime solvers are professionals who are working for the NYPD, FBI, CBI, CIA, or some other acronym organization. Castle is the only show that I watch where there is an amateur sleuth, even if he does help the NYPD solve cases.

I recently became nostalgic for the television shows from the 1980s. I grew up on the shows where the professionals carried a Private Investigator’s license rather than a badge, where the writer from Cabot Cover fell over dead bodies everywhere she went.  I longed to return to the Magnum PI days, where Jessica Fletcher solved cases and Laura Holt had to invent a fake person named Remington Steele to make people think a man was in charge (not so nostalgic for that part of the 80s).

One of my favorite things about 80s TV is that the shows are available on DVD.  So off to the library I went, in search of my first dose of nostalgia. I chose Remington Steele because I remember the show fondly, and let’s face it, Pierce Brosnan was, and still is, adorable.  I then watched the show from start to finish, all five seasons (even though the 5th season is only six episodes). Much to my surprise, I remembered very little of each case and was therefore highly entertained and surprised when Laura and Mr. Steele unearthed the villain every 48 minutes. 

Remington Steele was on NBC from 1982-1987 and starred Stephanie Zimbalist as Laura Holt and Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele.  Doris Roberts came in as Mildred Krebs in Season Two and stayed on until the end. At the start of the show, Laura Holt has trained to be a private investigator and opened her own agency, only to find that no one wants to hire a woman PI.  She invents the name Remington Steele (she admits she used a razor and a football team to come up with it) and business starts rolling in. She makes excuses and hides the fact that the man, whose name is on the letterhead, doesn’t exist. In the very first episode, she runs into a thief who inadvertently takes on the identity of Remington Steele in public. Once people see a face to put with the name, life as she’s known it has changed forever. The fake Remington Steele becomes part of the business, mostly just the face since he knows nothing about investigations and hates legwork. 

One of my favorite things about each episode is how Mr. Steele compares each case to old movies.  For example, on one case Remington and Laura going undercover at a party on an island where people keep getting murdered one by one.  Remington would call out something like “And Then There Were None, Barry Fitzgerald,  Walter Huston, Twentieth Century Fox, 1945.” He would then go on to explain how the plot of that movie related to the case at hand and the solution, or at least a strategy at getting to the solution, would come from the movie’s plot. To see a list of each episode and the movies that are referenced, you can check out Wikipedia

The side story of the attraction between Remington and Laura is fun too. They kiss a lot, but they have a hard time getting further with their relationship due to the nature of their jobs and the fact that they are always being chased, or chasing, bad guys.  Here’s a cute quote that explains it:

Remington Steele: We're being shot at
Laura Holt: But why?
Remington Steele: Because we're kissing. Someone always shoots at us when we're kissing!

If you’ve never watched the show, I suggest you give it a try.  If you watched every single episode, but watched it live, commercials and all – think about re-watching just for fun. I hope you enjoy the show as much as I did. 


  1. I think I may have to re-watch it, I too loved the old Sunday Mysteries, Murder She Wrote, Remington Steele, Jim Rockford, etc.! :)

  2. Love Remington Steele! It was such a great premise. Thanks for a great post.

  3. I loved this show and have the first season on DVD. Now I wonder where I put that....

  4. This was one of my favorites while growing up. I absolutely loved it. I remember they had mysteries on late at night, about 11:30 on CBS, and I was able to catch up on the older repeats. I also loved Crazy Like a Fox (which I don't think is on DVD) and Blacke's Magic. That one didn't last long and it starred Hal Linden as a magician and Harry Morgan as his dad.

  5. Michelle - I don't think I ever saw Blacke's Magic. I did see Crazy Like a Fox and love it.

  6. I haven't seen this show...sounds fun!