David Shepard
Created by Andrew Guerdat

In Fourth Story, an odd little straight-to-cable flick from the early nineties, Mark Harmon is DAVID SHEPARD, a rather bookish private eye, more at ease in a library than fistfight, who's hired by Valerie McCoughlin (Mimi Rogers) to find her missing husband. She suspects foul play, but as the investigation proceeds, Shepard discovers evidence that seems to suggest her husband Darryl just took off. Shepard also discovers that he's developing feelings for his client (and who could blame him? Mimi is looking pretty good in this one). He ends up prolonging the case, just to hang around with her a little longer, but things start getting a little intense when it turns out the case somehow involves a long ago suicide (or was it murder?) and a fatal fall from a fourth story window.

Harmon gives a surprising effective, self-effacing performance as the love-struck weenie detective, fumbling along, constantly losing his glasses, never quite sure how to deal with his obvious attraction to his Rogers, and troubled by bad dreams.

This is a funny little film, that I enjoyed far more than I really expected I would. It doesn't really grab you or anything, and it's way too light in tone to be noir -- film gris would be more appropriate in this case. But it has enough little quirks that's it's actually rather charming. I recently re-caught it on Lifetime, which seems like a good fit. With its low-key, warm tone (augmented by a mellow sort of light jazz score), it's a good match for the women network's own original P.I. series, Wild Card, sharing some of that shows some quiet, gentle sensibilities.

M. Emmet Walsh does a nice bit as David's pal Harry and Paul Gleason is suitably affable as Lieutenant Petkavich, the harried cop investigating the case. Harmon himself later went on to star as another low-key eye in ABC's short-lived series from 1995, Charlie Grace.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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