As you’ve no doubt figured out, the blog is on a bit of a hiatus, with the real world having claimed all my spare time of late. I am planning to get my stuff together in the next few weeks and relaunch the blog, hopefully bigger and better than before. Thanks for your patience!
Later that morning (presumably) …
… the tiny tape recorder has found a new home on somebody’s coffee table. Not Mr. Steele’s, I think.
No, they seem to be in someone’s office. Charlotte seems to have adopted the traditional garb of mourning. Has she run out of strawberries to molest?
“As I was explaining to my associate, Miss Holt, I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for all of this,” Steele says as Mitchell’s voice drones from the recorder. “From these tape recordings, it would almost appear that Mitchell Knight is the writer.”
“You got us, Steele!” Publishing Kingpin Russell (PKR) admits with surprising glibness. “Mitchell was the writer. We had this machine made. He could dictate, and then when you played it back on a regular machine, the voice was higher, sounded like a woman – hopefully like Charlotte. So you got us, Steele. Damn, you’re sharp!”
NOTE: If all these players were in on the scheme, why did they need to disguise Mitchell’s voice? To fool the office transcriptionist?
Mystery solved, Mr. Steele seems prepared to nap (he didn’t get much sleep last night). But Laura looks disappointed. “Then you didn’t write any of the books?” she asks. Charlotte admits it was all Mitchell’s lurid imagination. Laura is bereft. It’s hard when your idol lets you down.
Suddenly Dennis Baker jumps in with more exposition. “I represented Mitchell Knight for 17 years,” he explains. “If he made three thousand dollars a year, it was a banner year. Then, seven years ago, I sent Russ Mitch’s manuscript for Twice Nightly.”
Russell discloses that the manuscript stained his fingers. Before we’re allowed to let our minds wander deep into sordid territory, he explains it was because the book was garbage. He threw it away. But at a cocktail party, sweet Charlotte used her powers of persuasion (ahem) to convince him to publish the novel.
“Out of his mouth, it sounded like pornography,” Mitchell says as the camera drifts to Mitchell’s alter ego. “But out of her mouth, it was…. erotica.”
Oh, come on. As if anyone would accept blatant porn as “acceptable” literature.
“So you created a fictitious person to sell the books to the public,” Laura intuits.
Hm. That sounds familiar. In virtually every episode, Laura and Steele encounters someone who isn’t who they pretend to be. Something of a theme, eh?
The publisher, agent and widow hope Steele and Laura will keep quiet about what they’ve learned. “Charlotte Knight is more than just a lady who writes acceptably dirty books,” Baker says. “She’s a whole industry. Loose talk could put an awful lot of people out of work.”
“Look, isn’t there something we can do to help you see your way clear to, ah, forget all this?” Charlotte suggests, suggestively.
Suddenly Tony the Gardener pipes up.
Isn’t this guy a little puny to be a gardener? Given Charlotte’s lusty nature, I’d expect something a little more like this:
Hello, Mr. Greenjeans
Anyway, puny gardener guy has a hypothetical question to soliloquize: “Does it really matter whether or not the Charlotte that we see on television or read in the magazines is the same person who writes the books? Of course not. What’s important is the myth. I’ve heard a rumor that Thomas Edison didn’t really invent the light bulb.”
As Laura begins to look a little uncomfortable, Tony goes on to describe the ideal Charlotte Knight reader: “If lonely people, all over the world, prefer to think that this beautiful, sensuous woman writes those vividly evocative books …”
“… then I say, what a beautiful secret to be asked to keep.”
Aw. That’s heartwarming.
Laura and Steele both listen to this inspiring story with crossed arms. I wonder if that means they’re TOTALLY buying all this. (Hint: no.) Still, Laura admits that they can understand the position the posers are in. Still, there’s just one little problem, she notes: “Mr. Steele is convinced that someone murdered Mitchell Knight.”
Steele seems a bit confused by this. “I am?” he starts to say.
Laura reminds him with another well-aimed stomp to his instep. Ouch!
For me, the most interesting aspect of this scene is the parallel between the Charlotte/Mitchell deception and Laura/Steele. Charlotte is even dressed in a kind of parody of Laura’s look: the tailored suit – albeit rather low cut – and fedora. Once again Laura is confronted with a situation very much like the one she created … and once again, the ruse gives off a rather rancid odor. Does Laura wonder how much she is like these seedy characters she encounters who are playing her own game? Or does she see her situation as entirely different – indeed, the flip side of the coin. Is her subterfuge acceptable because it’s in a “good cause?”
With apologies for the delay, we’re back! We last left Mr. Steele pumping Charlotte Knight … for information about her writing process. Some time later:
Mr. Steele is back home, scuffing up his expensive coffee table while he examines some small device. Ah, there’s someone at the door!
Or technically, across the hall. It’s Laura, and she looks like she plans on staying awhile.
Steele declares he still thinks this is a waste of time. Laura is more upbeat – and she brought snacks: “…popcorn, diet soda, a little salami, some cheese…”
“You really want to spend an evening doing this?” Steele inquires as Laura makes herself comfortable on the floor. I’d think the sight of Laura in a semi-prone position on the floor would make the exercise worth it, Mr. Steele.
“Bring on the papers,” Laura answers, putting on a pair of big honkin’ glasses. Mr. Steele, amused, expresses surprise that she wears glasses. Laura explains that she got them in college as a means of seducing her calc professor.
“I thought they would make me look brainier,” she notes.
Mr. Steele wants to know if Laura scored with the prof.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she says coyly.
So … if Laura doesn’t need glasses, and only bought these to bring the sexy on back in college, why did she pack them for tonight’s seemingly work-related activity? Hmmm. Ulterior motives, Miss Holt?
In any case, now ocularly prepared, Laura is ready to read.
“Not read,” Steele corrects her. There won’t be any eyestrain this evening. “Charlotte Knight doesn’t write at all; she dictates,” he explains.
He shows Laura the little machine he was studying earlier. It’s a mini-recorder. And the pile of little tapes? Each tape represents one chapter of Charlotte’s latest opus.
“Shall we begin?”
He pops in Chapter 1, and the steamy recitation begins: “He couldn’t get over her velvet thighs and crimson smile -”
Steele is increasingly uncomfortable with the … er … plot. He quickly assesses that there is nobody jumping out of the window in THIS chapter and turns off the recorder.
Steele suggests they try another tape and press on. “By all means,” Laura agrees. “Press on.”
Something tells me Laura is enjoying this!
The next tape is similarly lurid: “He stood there all of him, his body was a dare, a dare she had decided to take -”
Steele has had enough.
“What say we break out the salami?”
Oh, dear. I’m not sure Laura is ready for the salami, Mr. Steele.
Laura asks Steele what he thinks he’s protecting her from. Steele protests that he wouldn’t presume to protect her from anything!
That’s good, because, Laura explains,
“Remember the calc professor? The glasses worked.”
Note: This confession has always bothered me, perhaps because I worked many years in academia and saw enough of this kind of thing. For some reason, the idea of Laura sleeping with her prof makes me queasy. It just seems kind of … cheap. Anyway …
Mr. Steele doesn’t seem offended by Laura’s spicy past. Indeed, one gets the feeling he’s rather intrigued. “Did the trick, did they?”
Laura reaffirms her academic indiscretion. “Why don’t you turn the tape back on and let’s get this over with, OK?”
I wonder if she’s having second thoughts about her candor?
Steele turns on the recorder and we hear Charlotte’s bodice-ripper continuing: “And at that moment they knew more about each other than either had thought possible. They didn’t need.words - only time, and each other.”
Steele and Laura seem strangely discomfited by these lines …. and the scene fades from Steele pensive face to:
The mini tapes, scattered over the carpet.
The camera pans to Mr. Steele’s body, laying on the floor. Just what went on after that fade out?
Then on to Laura, who is positioned perilously close to Mr. Steele’s … pleats.
Meanwhile, the tape is still playing, but the voice is different: masculine now. “First one rung, and then another, and then he reached it – the window - and it was as if she had known for just the slightest -”
Laura is (a)roused by this passage and begins to stir.
She picks up the recorder, puzzled by the change in timbre of the narrator. She shakes the recorder, but nothing changes.
Laura gives Mr. Steele a little shove to wake him.
“I’ll be out in a minute, Mother,” he mumbles.
Without going into what we don’t yet know, this seems a strange thing for Mr. Steele to sleep-talk. This is the second mention of his mother in this episode. Is there something about this case that is reminding him of his childhood? Is there something in his past that is behind his seeming reluctance to get involved with this case? Perhaps we’ll find out!
“Listen,” Laura urges him. Mr. Steele does, and pronounces the storyline “disgusting.”
“No! No! Listen! Listen!” she insists.
“And he watched her…” the male voice intones from the recorder.
“Sounds like Mitchell Knight!”
Steele listens while we look at his gold necklace. It’s not his usual watch-back pendant. He likes his bling, does Mr. Steele.
The tape continues: “Day after day, studying her, the way her body would rise and fall every time she took a breath, the way it glistened when she would perspire….”
Well, THAT sounds familiar. Who do we know that has a sweat fetish?
“It IS Mitchell Knight!” Steele declares.
“He wrote the books,” Laura surmises. “So where does that leave us?”
“A long way from the Caribbean,” Steele concludes sadly.
In this scene we see Laura and Steele working together – after hours – on the case Steele didn’t want to pursue. Murphy is nowhere in sight (presumably Mr. Steele didn’t invite him to participate.) I’m slightly surprised that Mr. Steele seemed genuinely prepared to work; I might have expected soft lighting and champagne on display. It’s Laura who seems flirty this evening. Is the lusty literature causing her to fantasize about being the seductress in her own little passion play?
Having stomped off mad from the agency, Mr. Steele stomps all the way over to …
… a slightly tacky looking faux-wood door. He knocks.
Trick or treat!
“Charlotte Knight?” Mr. Steele inquires, though he certainly knows who she is. “I’m Remington Steele.”
“Oh my goodness, you are, aren’t you?” she responds, looking somewhat predatory.
Yep, that’s the one.
Just then, Tony the Gardener makes a shirtless appearance. I wonder what he’s been ploughing today? Charlotte asks Mr. Steele to wait while she gets rid of a few things.
I think Mr. Steele finds her charming!
Moments later, Mr. Steele is being served champagne with a side of
thigh strawberries & cream. We see Charlotte surreptitiously rubbing Remington’s calf as the butler (?) pours the bubbly.
Handing his hostess a fizzy coupe, Mr. Steele expresses appreciation that she deigned to see him, “especially now, in your hour of grief.”
Charlotte is blunt. “It must be more than apparent to you that I’m far from devastated by Mitchell’s passing,” she admits.
“I had noticed a certain casual indifference,” he concedes, but says he thought she was putting up a good front. (Interesting that Steele holds his glass by the base, not the stem. How gauche, Mr. Steele!)
Charlotte thinks Mr. Steele is sweet. (Sweet enough to eat?)
Charlotte wants to make herself clear. “I’m not made of stone Mr. Steele. I loved Mitchell. I loved him very much. It just wasn’t the love of a woman for her man.”
She pauses to demonstrate the love of a woman for her … strawberry.
Steele is … turned on?
“Am I making myself clear?”
“As a bell, Mrs. Knight.”
Something tells me this tete a’ tete is over.
Charlotte pursues the clearly uncomfortable detective.
How fast can you run, Mr. Steele?
Charlotte asks her visitor if she makes him nervous.
Steele decides it’s time to get down to business. “Let me tell you why I’m here. Perhaps you’ve heard, Russell Forsyth has asked me to write a book.”
Charlotte is thrilled! “We are going to have so much in common!”
Mr. Steele has something to ask, but he doesn’t want to be too personal.
The widow Knight assures him that isn’t possible.
“Just how do you do it?”
Well, that’s awkward.
Perhaps this might help, Mr. Steele.
Miss Knight seems … nonplused. She wants to know what’s the it he wants to know how she does. When he explains he wants to know how she writes, she is irked.
“How do I write? I write … WONDERFULLY.”
With those nails? How does she even hold a pen?
Steele is wondering the same thing. “No, no, no, no, no. I mean, do you use a pencil and paper or do you type? Do you know what every chapter is going to be about before you put it on paper, or do you make it up as you go along?”
“That really is why you came here, isn’t it?” I think Charlotte is beginning to wonder if Mr. Steele is capable of loving her as a man loves a woman.
Mr. Steele’s not telling!
Here we see Mr. Steele doing his own sleuthing. It’s clear he’s dealt with Charlotte’s type before (I can’t help wondering how Murphy would have handled this situation). It’s interesting that Steele is willing to put up with Charlotte’s advances up to a point, but there are limits to what he’ll do to get the information he seeks. Is it just because Charlotte turns him off, or would he react the same way with another woman? I wonder, after this interaction with the widow, if Steele is still as convinced that there’s no murder case to investigate?
The next scene opens, presumably the next day, where we find …
… Mr. Steele soaking his wounded tootsies. Let’s hope he heals as quickly from this as he did the broken hand he got last week! Side note: Mr. Steele has some long, narrow feet!
Just then Laura arrives, looking prim and professional in a gray suit. Mr. Steele reminds her of his Holt-inflicted injury: “Look at that! It’s already twice its normal size. We really must develop a more practical signal for you to use when you wish to silence me.” (Hm. Steele’s use of “already” would seem to indicate this scene occurs immediately after the last one. But surely they didn’t change and go back to the office the same night as the party. Interestingly, his words also imply that Miss Holt may have used this particular mode of communication before.)
Laura, who seems in a good mood, takes a seat next to Steele. “You can smell it, can’t you?” she says.
Mr. Steele is affronted.
“Oh, my humblest apologies. And I suppose your feet have no odor.” Huh. I would expect a man as fastidious as Mr. Steele not to have such issues.
“I mean the murder,” Laura explains, apparently too absorbed in the mystery to bother to apologize to Mr. Steele.
“Murder? What murder?” Steele responds, a bit obtusely.
“The murder of Mitchell Knight.”
“So that’s why you tap-danced on my toes last night! You didn’t want me to cancel that book deal because you wanted to keep your hand in this ridiculous murder business,” Steele intuits. (Still hinting around for that apology, Mr. Steele?)
“Charlotte Knight killed her husband.” Laura seems to have this all worked out. She gets up and starts her customary pacing as she works through the details.
Mr. Steele gets to HIS feet (with some difficulty) and objects to her theory.
“Did you see the look in the man’s eyes? He was seeing a lot of shows that aren’t listed in the TV Guide.”
On the week this episode aired, the mini-series “The Blue & the Grey” was on the cover of TV Guide. Inside, Mitchell Knight would have found listings for such detective fare as “Matt Houston,” “The A Team,” “Simon & Simon,” and “Magnum, P.I.”
Laura will not be deterred. She’s on a roll! “She wrote about it, made it part of the new manuscript, described every detail.”
“Then made sure that her husband saw it, made sure it sent him running for the bottle, and then Charlotte waited. Waited until she had plenty of witnesses to see just how drunk Mitchell was, and then she did it.”
“She pushed or coaxed him over the side.”
Steele ain’t buyin’ it. “Laura, Russell Forsythe told you there is no such murder in the new book.” (It’s a bit puzzling that Steele is so adamant about this. You’d think he’d also be intrigued by the fact that Mitchell told them about the manuscript predicting his death, which the publisher later denied existed.)
“I said she was cocky - not an imbecile,” Laura counters. “Once Mitchell had read that scenario, it would be foolhardy to keep it in there.” Heading for her office, she admits it would make things easier if they could locate that missing scene.
Steele follows her into the office, still arguing his case for no case. “Laura, you haven’t been listening! There is no scene because there was no murder.”
“I have an idea! Business is slow. Why don’t we close down for a week or two? Perhaps all four of us could go away somewhere. The Caribbean! How about it?”
Laura’s not interested. She has work to do!
“Work? What work? We don’t even have a client,” Steele very reasonably points out.
Just then, as Laura boots up what looks like some kind of video game, our pal Murphy appears with a complaint.
“Do you wanna keep it down in here? There are people trying to sleep in the next office.”
Oh, Murph! You’re such a card!
Laura is glad to see him.
“Charlotte Knight. Russell Forsythe. Dennis Baker. Find out everything you can about them.” She starts to hand Murphy some kind of print-out …
… but Steele snatches it out of his hand. “Take it from me Murphy: Don’t waste your time.”
He turns his attention to his most valued associate. “Laura, will you agree that if there is no death scene, there is no murder?”
Murphy doesn’t appreciate Steele interference. He hasn’t gotten his contractually guaranteed 12 lines yet!
“Nothing personal, but all I have is time,” Murphy insists.
“What are you driving at?” Laura asks, a little condescendingly.
“I’m going to get every single scrap of paper ever written by Charlotte Knight,” he declares with inexplicable vehemence.
Murphy wants to know how he’s going to do that.
“My mother. Mrs. Steele,” he answers. (Um, what?) “Always taught me, it never hurts to ask.” He stomps off, in high dudgeon, pausing at the door.
“I’m also going to pick up four tickets to Jamaica. Pack light!”
Murphy and Laura exchange puzzled looks.
For me, the biggest mystery here continues to be why Steele is so set against pursuing this case. Surely he’s not that desperate for an island vacation. He seems to take this situation almost personally. Is there something in his past that makes him uncomfortable with the idea of a wife murdering her husband? Or is he put off by the specter of the pusillanimous Mitchell being so completely dominated – and ultimately destroyed – by his “partner?” And what the heck is with the reference to his “mother,” Mrs. Steele? Obviously all three in the room know there is no such person. Is Steele referring to his own mother, albeit by another name?
The gala party seems to have broken up after Gomez left early. Grisly death does tend to put a damper on things, I suppose.
As the bartending staff clean up in the background, we see some guy. Who can he be?
Apparently Mr. Steele and Miss Holt didn’t get the memo that the party is over. Don’t you hate it when guests don’t know when to go home? The strange guy startles them on the balcony.
“So you’re the famous Shamus, eh?” he says as Steele nearly leaps over the railing.
“Dennis Baker, Charlotte’s agent.”
Steele introduces Laura: “Laura Holt, my associate.”
Agent Baker notes that it’s been quite an evening, and asks if the detectives have known
Gomez Mitch long.
“Actually, we met him for the first time tonight,” says Laura. She starts to stammer something polite, but the agent interrupts.
He indicates he knows Charlotte’s hubby was in his cups that evening, and it wasn’t unusual. “People would see Charlotte Knight on television and say to themselves, what I wouldn’t give to spend a night next to that. But it takes its toll, like owning Fort Knox; you’re so busy guarding it, you can’t enjoy spending it.”
So Charlotte’s agent echoes Gomez’s earlier remarks about not being the kind of guy you’d expect to be married to Charlotte. Hm.
Steele gives Laura a bit of side-eye at this. I wonder what he’s thinking?
“Stupid fool, never could hold his liquor,” Baker concludes. Think they’re making a case for suicide? He heads back into the apartment.
Laura and Steele follow. Laura remarks that Mr. Knight would have had to be pretty athletic to fall over the railing. (Um, what? The railing looked to be about waist level to me.) It seems Laura isn’t buying the suicide theory.
Laura and Steele’s body language is interesting here. We see Mr. Steele rubbing the back of his head. According to body language experts, this indicates either impatience or sadness. I wonder which is true of Mr. Steele here? And Laura is rubbing her hands together, a sign of stress. I wonder why this incident is affecting them both so markedly?
“What are you getting at?” Baker asks as Forsythe approaches.
“She’ll be all right,” Forsythe remarks, adding that she (presumably Charlotte) is with Tony.
Laura’s had about enough of this blasé attitude toward poor Gomez’s demise. “Aren’t either of you concerned that Mitchell Knight just died in a manner identical to the one in his wife’s new book?”
“I’m sorry, Miss Holt. You’ve lost me,” Forsythe says.
Wait a minute. Do these two guys remind you of anyone?
“You mean to say there is no scene of a man falling 35 floors to his death in the new book?”
Apparently not, though Forsythe wishes there was. “In the book, the people are so busy jumping on each other that nobody has the chance to fall 35 floors.” He admits that, even as a macho Navy veteran, he blushed when he read it. He sees a certain gleam in the detectives’ eyes. “That mean that you know something that we should?”
“Forgive us, gentlemen,” Steele demurs. “Miss Holt and I deal in death daily. Occasionally our imaginations tend to run away with us and we tend to look for treachery where there clearly is none.” I get the impression Mr. Steele isn’t eager to get further involved with this case.
Forsythe is disappointed. “A little treachery could have gone a long way this evening. I’m not opposed to calling your book Remington Steele’s 11 Most Famous Cases.” (A little treachery could have gone a long way to … what?)
I don’t think Steele likes that idea. What happened to his zeal for a literary career?
Agent Baker is irked by Forsythe’s callousness. “They haven’t even hosed Mitch’s blood off the sidewalk.”
“You wouldn’t negotiate the deal, Dennis?” Forsythe challenges him. Speaking of deals …
“About that book-”
Steele winces as Laura suddenly stamps on his foot, silencing him. Apparently she’s had a change of heart about the Remington Steele Files, Vol. 1.
“Yes! Won’t it be wonderful! Remington Steele’s book. Who knows, maybe someday he’ll even have his own cartoon show on Saturday mornings!”
Scooby Steele? Works for me!
Laura hustles Steele out the door before he can ask what the hell is going on.
So … the plot thickens. Nobody seems very upset that Gomez is dead, the plot of Charlotte’s new novel isn’t what the dead man said it was, and Laura has suddenly decided Remington Steele should pen his memoirs after all. What’s going on here?
We left Laura hot and bothered and Steele bemused on their way to the publishing party.
And they’ve arrived! As they’re shown in, we see Gomez at the bar, apparently getting sloshed and smoked next to a statue of a naked guy. In the background is a lady with feathers on her bodice and a ruffle at the bottom of her skirt. Really? Too much.
As Steele is divested of his jacket by a gloved butler (hot-blooded Laura apparently didn’t wear a coat), Laura pats her tummy. Hungry, or nervous? Her outfit is sparkly … but is it zipless?
Laura wants to know if Steele sees Forsythe; she’s anxious to get this over with.
“Laura, I do think we should wait for an opportune moment,” Steele stalls.
Miss Holt ain’t buyin’ it. “I just don’t want you beating around the bush.”
Steele is affronted. “Bush beating? ME?!”
Just then Mr. Forsythe calls to them. As he approaches, Steele reminds Laura that these people think SHE works for HIM.
“I see you took me up on my invitation,” Forsythe says. “Does this mean you’re serious about my proposition?”
Steele makes the introductions: “Russell Forsyth, Laura Holt, my most valued associate AND an integral part of whatever arrangement we finally agree to.”
Agree to? Laura doesn’t know anything about “agree to.” It doesn’t matter; Forsythe isn’t here to talk business. He advises them to eat and get drunk so he can take advantage of them in later negotiations. Sounds reasonable to me.
Laura figures she’d better take matters in hand, and turns to follow Forsythe. Just then …
Tipsy Gomez appears, bumping rudely into Laura. That’s no way to treat a lady!
Gomez introduces himself to Steele, noting what a treat it is to meet them man his wife Charlotte reads about all the time.
“Are you married to Charlotte Knight?” Laura asks. Suddenly this party is looking more interesting!
“The man behind the woman,” Gomez announces. “Not what you expected, huh?”
Before Laura has to respond to this awkward remark, Steele steps in.
He introduces Laura as his associate, “very much the woman behind the man.”
Laura is giddy with this brush with greatness. “It’s a real pleasure, I’ve read all of -”
“Really?” Steele needles.
Gomez tells Laura not to be embarrassed. “Nobody admits to reading Charlotte’s books, but they sell 3 million copies.”
Steele and Laura aren’t quite sure what to make of this guy.
Mysteriously, Gomez invites the detectives out onto the balcony with him.
Gomez is persistent in his request.
Laura and Steele follow, though Mr. Steele isn’t too excited about it.
Laura very much appreciates the view from 35 floors up, but Steele seems less impressed. Gomez isn’t excited about it, either.
“Idiotic, living 35 floors up in Los Angeles, but Charlotte adores it,” he declares. (Why is it idiotic to live in a high rise in LA? Smog?)
The trio looks back at the party inside …
… where Charlotte has made her appearance.
“She’s inspirational, isn’t she?” Gomez breathes. “Sometimes I sit for hours just watching her move, the way her body rises and falls when she breathes, the way it glistens when she perspires.” Oh, yeah. Sweat is sexy.
We see Charlotte greeting a guest … warmly.
“The man with her is Tony, our gardener,” Gomez explains. “Can’t let the lawn go when you’re 35 floors up!”
“Heh, heh, heh,” Steele and Laura respond uncomfortably.
“Good thing I’m not the jealous type, huh?” Gomez remarks. He adds that he doesn’t think Charlotte’s new manuscript is up to snuff.
Gomez finally gets to the point: He’s brought them out here to share some interesting information.
“As you know, my wife is a famous author with a reputation for writing, shall we say, provocative literature. My wife’s first book,Twice Nightly. A work of fiction? Hardly. The first four years of our marriage.”
“My wife’s second book, Bated Breath? The second four years of our marriage.” Laura seems curiously affected by his words.
Is it getting warm in here?
Gomez reveals that Char’s newest masterpiece is an erotic thriller, Prone Positions. It’s about a woman who kills her husband.
“Erotic thriller. Husband murdered. May I ask how?”
“He’s thrown off a 35th floor balcony.”
“Magnificent. Can we go in now?” Steele responds. I think he doesn’t like getting tangled up in domestic disputes!
Gomez knows they think he’s just soused, but he insists he’s seen it with his own bloodshot eyes, in black and white!
Laura adopts a reasonable tone. “Mr. Knight, if you’re truly afraid your wife is planning to murder you -”
“Leave Charlotte? I couldn’t do that. I can’t leave her and she can’t leave me. We’re supposed to be a team, you know.”
“Then how can we help you?”
Gomez seems a little crestfallen. “Maybe this is premature. Well, I’m sorry to have bothered you. I do hope you enjoy the party. I suspect it may prove to be quite revealing.”
They return to the party. “What an odd little man,” Steele whispers.
“Hard to believe he is married to her,” Laura adds, while Charlotte pointedly notices the handsome Mr. Steele as they pass.
“The secrets that bind two people together … what a confounding mystery,” Steele agrees. (Gosh, do you think Mr. Steele is only talking about Charlotte and Gomez?)
Laura tells Steele she doesn’t like this place or these people. She wants to find Forsythe, tell him the sad tale of his abortive literary career, and skedaddle.
Suddenly there is a shout! And a scream! Steele and Laura
race mosey to the balcony to see what’s going on.
They discover a crowd on the balcony, but someone seems to be missing. Where’s Gomez?
Oh. THERE he is. Wow. This power couple go above and beyond to drum up interest in their books.
Laura is distressed by the untimely, but predicted, demise of Gomez. Or maybe she’s just glad of a chance to get up close and personal with Mr. Steele?
“I don’t think this is the opportune moment to discuss business,” Mr. Steele decides.
This scene presents two couples: Steele & Laura, and Charlotte & Gomez. Both are supposed to be teams, but in each case we see that the woman takes the dominant role. In the case of Mr. & Mrs. Knight, this seems to have broken the man’s spirit. He is dependent on his wife and feels himself being more and more marginalized. On the other hand, Mr. Steele seems not at all threatened by Laura’s strength. Indeed, he goes out of his way to point out that she is the “woman behind the man.” It is Laura who appears insecure, needing to assert her power and keep Mr. Steele in his proper place. Yet when confronted with the horror of Gomez’s death, she turns immediately to Steele for comfort and protection. Is the spectre of Mr. & Mrs. Knight a warning to Laura and Steele of what can happen when a team is out of balance?
We left Mr. Steele and Miss Holt having just made a date of sorts (though I suspect Laura would dispute that description strenuously).
Now we see the agency limo heading down an L.A. street.
Inside the limo, Laura and Steele are – wait a minute! That’s not Fred! The agency’s usual chauffeur must have the evening off. Anyway, in the backseat, Laura and Steele are sitting rather close together. Steele is in a tux and Laura is dolled up. She wants to know who else is going to be at this party.
“Actually, it’s being held to celebrate the completion of a new manuscript by Charlotte Knight,” he informs her. This gets her attention! Apparently Laura is familiar with this Charlotte’s work.
Laura waxes lyrical. “Have you ever read any of her books? Every thigh is creamy white, every breast is full and heaving. Men don’t caress their women, they seize them …”
“…and people don’t meet and fall in love, they have zipless encounters and disappear into the night.” Hm. Laura seems a little turned on. What exactly is a zipless encounter, anyway? Mr. Steele seems a bit nonplused by Laura’s ardent recitation.
“How quaint,” he remarks. “Sounds as if you’re a fan of this Miss Knight.”
“Well, no, no, I’ve never actually read any of her books,” Laura insists, uncomfortably. Mr. Steele’s expression suggests he’s thinking …
But what he actually says is, “Of course.”
Laura clarifies that she’s only HEARD about Charlotte Knight’s work.
“Mm-hmm, reading is such a chore,” Steele smirks.
This is a short entry, but the next scene is quite long, so I thought it best to do it separately. In this little scene, we get some insight into Laura. First, she has taken some pains to dress for the occasion – which hardly seems necessary if the plan is to show up, tell Forsythe the deal is off, and leave again. She’s interested in who else will be at the soiree – I get the impression Laura is a bit excited to be moving in such glittering society. Presumably the day-to-day legwork of the detective has not afforded many such opportunities before Mr. Steele came on the scene.
We learn a bit about Laura’s reading habits, too. It seems the no-nonsense, business-before-pleasure girl has a weakness for steamy literature. Perhaps since she doesn’t allow herself the indulgence of a real-life relationship, she has to seek vicarious gratification through the pages of these bodice rippers. Does it hint at a more passionate, sensual side to Laura than we have been allowed to glimpse so far?
Meanwhile, at Mr. Steele’s well-appointed condo …
Dostoevsky Mr. Steele is dictating his memoirs while plagiarizing Dickens: “Chapter One: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It’s interesting that Mr. Steele is apparently familiar with A Tale of Two Cities, the novel from which this line is derived. Of course, he’s probably quoting one of the many movie versions.
Not exactly a crime of fashion, perhaps, but Mr. Steele’s smoking jacket seems a bit over he top. In the Victorian era, such jackets were donned to protect a gentleman’s clothes from cigar smoke. They have become a symbol of a kind of decadent smarminess.
Here are some other smoking jacket aficionados.
The woman recording these utterances suggests an amendment: “”Shouldn’t that be, it was both the best and the worst of times?”
Steele agrees that is more economical language. Just then there is a knock on the door.
Why, it’s Laura! She doesn’t seem happy. “How dare you!” she snaps.
Sensing Laura’s mood, Mr. Steele hastens to shoo the stenographer out the door, telling her he feels his creative juices ebbing.
Once she’s gone, Laura starts in again. Who is Russell Forsyth? she wants to know. (Um, I believe he’s the same guy you were reading about in the paper, Laura. Have you forgotten?)
Steele fills her in anyway. “A most successful publisher, a man of great taste. He’s asked me to write a book.”
“Remington Steele’s Ten Most Famous Cases!”
Laura is not impressed.
“Planning a career in fiction, are we?”
Oh, Laura. It’s almost like you want to make Mr. Steele see you as a
beyatch difficult woman.
Well, that’s a bit harsh.
Mr. Steele is unruffled. “Correct me if I’m wrong, Miss Holt, but I sense a certain lack of enthusiasm on your behalf.”
Laura peevishly reminds him that not only has he not had ten famous cases, he hasn’t even had ten cases.
Steele parries by wiggling his fingers at her. “Really, Laura, your preoccupation with details …”
He’s a Big Idea man, Laura!
“I’m going to tell you something,” Laura says. “Listen to it. Digest it. Try to remember it.” She’s on a roll now! “You are NOT Remington Steele. I made him up. You are playing a part! For me! I want you to pick up that phone, call Russell Forsyth, and tell him you’ve had a change of heart.”
Mr. Steele appears to consider her suggestion seriously.
“Or shall I?” Laura threatens.
That’s right, Laura. Show him who’s boss.
Still, Remington isn’t ready to just sit down and … er … explode.
“A book by and about Remington Steele could create a demand for the Agency’s services where people have never even heard of us before,” he suggests.
“Imagine! Branches in New York, Paris, London!”
I call this expression Pierce Brosnan’s Fred McMurray look.
Steele continues his pitch.
“Why, we could end up in shopping malls! Think of it, Laura.”
I don’t think she’s buyin’ what you’re sellin,’ Rem.
“Whole families going to the mall, buying sneakers, picking up snow tires, leaving clues?”
Snow tires? In Los Angeles? You’re reaching, Mr. Steele.
Laura is unmoved.
Mr. Steele mentions that Forsyth has invited him to a party. He hates to spoil the soiree with business talk, but if he must …
Then: “What time are you picking me up?”
Well, that was unexpected.
Mr. Steele seems to think so, too.
Laura seems to be continuing the peevish theme we saw in the last episode. Is she merely jealous of the attention Steele is getting? Does she believe acting prickly and irritable is how one creates sexual tension? Or is she, as I suggested earlier, subconsciously trying to push Mr. Steele away? Is she frightened by his attraction to her, and hers to him? Let me know your thoughts!
And on to our next exciting adventure!
It was a dark and stormy night.
“It was a dark and stormy night” is the opening phrase of an 1830 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. It has been described as “the archetypal example of a florid, melodramatic style of fiction writing.” However, it’s also the first line of all of Snoopy’s novels, so how bad can it be?
The scene shifts to what is apparently downtown L.A., during that same d&s night.
There follows all the opening credits. However, since there don’t seem to be any guest stars of particular note in this episode, I’ll skip them.
Suddenly we find ourselves looking at someone reading an untitled manuscript. Who can it be?
Whatever Gomez is reading, he doesn’t seem impressed.
He gets up and crosses what appears to be the living room of a swankish apartment.
He pauses at the bottom of the stairs and calls up: “Charlotte? Charlotte! I know you’re listening to me, Charlotte. Hear me, I’ve just read the new manuscript. What do you want me to make of it, Charlotte?”
Apparently it’s important that we know he’s talking to someone named Charlotte.
And this, one must assume, is her.
Getting kind of a Madeline Kahn vibe from her. Only creepier.
As the camera pans back to reveal Creepy Charlotte, dressed in red satin and feathers, lying on satin sheets, we hear Gomez calling up to her. “You know I can’t stand still for this. I won’t! It’s as simple as that. Charlotte? Charlotte!”
Whatever can this all mean?
Suddenly we’re outside the Century Towers, presumably the next day.
Bernice strolls into Laura’s office, bearing a couple of mugs. With Laura’s feet propped up, we can see how worn the bottom of her shoes are. That’s legwork for you! Laura seems uncharacteristically relaxed. Bernice points out that the phone isn’t ringing, the lobby is empty and it’s been like this for a week.
Laura, who has her very own personalized mug, remains unruffled. “It happens every year this time,” she says. “Holidays, peace on earth, goodwill to all men. Nice thought, but it really raises havoc with the balance sheet.”
Based on this conversation, we can infer that Bernice is a relatively new employee of the Steele Agency, not having been here at this time last year. I had the impression she and Laura were close, so this surprises me a bit. I’m also surprised at how calm Laura is, with no clients in the offing. She’s usually pretty uptight about finances and such. Is this a sign that business has been so good since Steele came on board that they can weather this slow period without much stress?
Suddenly Murphy calls from his rather-more-spacious-than-Laura’s office. “Laura! Ten-letter word for lexicon?”
“Did you look it up?” Laura calls back.
Of course he did! But apparently our Mr. Michaels isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Laura has to inform him that the word he’s looking for is dictionary.
It seems Laura is finally starting to feel a little antsy. Noting that the drought is likely to last through New Year’s, she comments, “What I wouldn’t give for a nice, juicy murder.”
Foreshadowing? What foreshadowing?
Returning to her paper, Laura suddenly sees something that surprises her.
Really surprises her.
She seems pretty rattled, and perhaps a bit nauseous.
Oh, dear. What can be upsetting her so?
Ah, it’s a nice publicity pic of Mr. Steele and some dude. Caption says, “SEEN ABOUT TOWN … famous sleuth Remington Steele and publishing kingpin Russell Forsyth. Can a Remington Steele book be far behind?”
Well, gee, Laura. You DID hire him to be the public face of the agency.
At least Bernice seems impressed. “He writes?”
“When I get through with him, he won’t be able to read!” Laura exclaims.
She stomps out, growling, “Where is Dostoevsky?”
I’m afraid your morning is about to get a little uncomfortable, Mr. Steele.
Thoughts on this opening?