Ohara
Created by Michael Braverman, John A. Kuri and Pat Morita

"A flea makes life harder for a Jackass than a Jackass for a flea"
-- Ohara waxes philosophical

Chances are you don't remember the short-lived ABC TV series Ohara, and even if you do, you probably don't remember him being a P.I. But OHARA was one, albeit briefly, in this so-so show that starred familiar Asian-American character actor Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, and the original Arnold on Happy Days).

When the show debuted in January 1987 on ABC, the lead character (no first name, and pronounced oh-HARR-ah) was an LA police lieutenant with a list of quirks a mile long. He didn't drive a car. He meditated a lot and was prone to speaking in zen-like epigrams. And he never used a gun -- though if pressed he could use some pretty fancy martial arts moves in the line of duty. In many ways Ohara was more-or-less a hipper, slightly more Americanized version of Morita's Mr. Miyagi character, here recast as a cop.

But the show wasn't gelling, so the network began tinkering. A few episodes in, there was a format change: Ohara became a fed. He also gained a partner, shed some of his more obvious 'quirky' mannerisms, and started carrying a weapon.

But the public still wasn't buying, so in February of 1988, there was yet another format overhaul and Ohara and his new partner quit the feds to become genuine, full-fledged P.I.s.

Finally, when it finally became apparent that nobody was watching this version of Ohara either, there was one last really massive format change -- the show was cancelled.

It was no big loss. Morita's a good actor, and the initial conception of the Ohara character was interesting, but the show's actual plots and scripts were pretty bland. Then when the character was continually reworked to become more 'conventional', the show lost whatever slight spark it once had. By the time of the P.I. episodes, Ohara was just another standard-issue mystery show featuring a decent lead actor and not much else.

Yawn.

Still, an opportunity was truly wasted here: If the show had lasted longer than 20-some episodes, who knows what network-mandated format changes we could have seen? Ohara quits his PI job and becomes a crime-fighting interor decorator! Then he solves mysteries while battling spooky space aliens! Then he goes back in time and becomes a shagadelic 60's secret agent! The possibilities boggle the mind...

TELEVISION

Report respectfully submitted by Rudyard Kennedy.


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