Created by Michael Gleason and Robert Butler
"Try this for a deep dark secret: The great detective Remington Steele... He doesn't exist. I invented him. Follow: I'd always loved excitement, So I studied and apprenticed, and put my name on an office. But absolutely no one knocked on my door. A female private investigator seemed so... feminine. So I invented a superior. A decidedly masculine superior. Suddenly there were cases around the block. It was working like a charm. Until the day he walked in, with his blue eyes and mysterious past. And before I knew it, he assumed Remington Steele's identity. Now I do the work, and he takes the bows. It's a dangerous way to live, But as long as people buy it, I can get the job done. We never mix business with pleasure. Well...almost never. I don't even know his real name!"
That about sums up rookie private eye LAURA HOLT''s original plan. Invent a male superior to attract clients to her fledgling detective agency. Until a mysterious, albeit charming con artist shows up, claiming he is REMINGTON STEELE.
And then he won't leave. However, Laura and he hit it off, and she realizes he may be useful, after all. He soon joins Laura, Murphy, another op, and their secretary Bernice, in the agency.
Not terribly swift at times, Remington nevertheless managed to always, somehow, keep one lie ahead of the game (shades of Rockford!), while Laura's attempts to dig up Steele's real identity (hell, he couldn't be Steele -- she made up the name!) soon revealed that even he didn't have one. This became an important subplot, as the series progressed and more of his past was revealed.
Of course, this being the eighties, there was the obligatory sexual friction between the two. It certainly helped the fantasy that the leads, Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan, looked like Barbie dolls). Think Sam and Diane of Cheers as private eyes, and you wouldn't be far off. Producer Glen Caron, in fact, left the show after one season, to create Moonlighting, which was remarkably similiar.
At the start of the second season, IRS agent Mildred Krebs joins the agency, having tired of trying to nail Steele on non-payment of taxes (it's hard to tax a guy who doesn't exist). Bits and pieces of his past continued to bubble to the surface. It turns out he has a mentor of sorts, Daniel Chalmers, an older conman, who pops up at inconvenient times (played by Stephanie Zimbalist's real life dad, Efram Zimbalist, Jr.). Immigration tries to deport him. Old girlfriends (always in trouble) turn up with alarming frequency. Rumours of criminal acts are whispered. Fun stuff.
And don't get me wrong -- it was fun stuff. Fluffy-light comedy with romantic overtones, and enough cleverness, stylish clothes and attractive leads (not to mention some world-class groaner pun episode titles) to keep going for several seasons. At the end of the fourth season, in what was to be the final episode, "Bonds of Steele," Laura and Remington finally get married, and theoretically live happily ever after, with actor Pierce Brosnan slated to be the next James Bond.
Unfortunately for him, NBC decided all the free publicity swirling around was reason enough to extend the series for one more season. So Timothy Dalton became the new Bond, and Remington Steele returned for a fifth season. Well, sorta...
Season five ended up being a half-ass collection of a couple of TV movies and a two-parter series finale that tied up a few loose ends, revealing a deep, dark secret from Remington's past, and had him inheriting a castle in Ireland. A fairy tale ending to a series that was pretty much a fairy tale anyways, and yet it lacked the wit that had made the show worth watching in the first place.
In fact, in the original concept, Remington Steele wasn't even going to exist. Only after NBC insisted on a male lead did creators Michael Gleason and Robert Butler make him flesh.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
| Home | Detectives A-L M-Z | Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs | Search |