From Dan Tanna’s Las Vegas, Robert Urich continued his on-screen persona of a PI with the series Spenser for Hire in 1985.
Developed for Warner Bros Television by John Wilder with Robert B. Parker, author of the Spenser novels, the television series was the tv version of the books.
Parker wrote over 40 book starring the private detective.
Urich’s Spenser (who had only one name), is revealed as a complex man: he served in the Korean War, was a boxer, has two sons, is very well-read especially in poetry, works out at a boxing gym, loves to cook and is inspired by Julia Child and drives a green 1966 Mustang.
Filmed on location in Boston, Spenser has a girlfriend, regularly gets in the way of the police (Lt. Quirk & Lt. Webster) and frequently is aided by Hawk, played by Avery Brooks, a street-wise enforcer who recognizes Spenser’s devotion to helping people.
Debuting in September 1985 on ABC TV, the series had a steady viewership, those who liked Urich and appreciated a PI whose challenge was usually wrapped up within the hour.
Over the next three seasons, side characters were added and changed and the show’s time slot kept changing, but the ratings were steady. But production costs of basing the series in Boston led ABC to cancel the series in 1988.
In 1993, the first of four made for television movies were completed based on the Spenser character, which also starred Urich, based on four Parker novels.