Charlie Grace
Created by Robert Singer

A coulda-been series that whimpered off into the sunset.

I found Mark Harmon surprisingly likable as CHARLIE GRACE, an ex-cop turned LA private eye who, despite Harmon's constant, and occasionally wearying references to 1940's detective films and literature (he actually does voiceover narration), actually owed a lot more to other TV eyes.

He's got the "cute" office (cf: Peter Gunn): in a pool hall; the classic "in" car (cf: Rockford, VEGA$, Magnum, Spenser etc.): a late 60's/early 70's Mustang. In fact, most of it had all been done before. Still, there was a certain refreshing breeziness, even a certain Boy Scoutishness, to Grace -- I mean, he even picks up other people's litter, fer cryin' out loud. And there are several very well done supporting characters and quirky bit parts. If they could have moved away from the too-obvious plots, they may have had something there. But it was scrapped after just six episodes.

One neat thing was the cops on the show. Instead of portraying police as well-meaning but slow and overworked, they were allowed to be crooked, or at least willing to look the other way when it comes to fellow officers. The detective team of Simms and (what's his name? Anyone?) were basically good cops, but ambiguous about a cop who turns on other cops.

And Charlie was THAT cop. He busted some other cops, and was subsequently ostracized. Disgusted with being blackballed by other officers for doing what he felt was the right thing, Charlie quit the force. About the same time, his wife left him. That was six or seven years ago. And he was left with a young daughter, Jenny, played by a very young Leelee Sobieski.

And that was another great thing about this show, especially for a trivia monkey like me-- its cast. Besides future rising star Sobieski, it featured the always solid Robert Costanzo as Artie Crawford, Charlie's partner, and future mystery writer Harley Jane Kozak as Holly.

speaking of trivia, Harmon also played a similarly low-key private eye in 1991's straight-to-cable TV flick Fourth Story.



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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