I don’t remember if I was tuned in to NBC on October 1, 1982 – the night that a new detective series debuted on the network. I was a sophomore at Osakis High School, about to turn 16 in two days. I probably was watching, as I recall reading about the new show in TV Guide and being intrigued … as much, I admit, by the photo of the amazingly handsome leading man (a then-unknown Pierce Brosnan) as by the premise of the series. In any case, I was soon hooked on the romantic adventures of private investigator Laura Holt and the mysterious conman who assumed the identity of the suave and sexy Remington Steele.
I loved the cleverness of the writing, the series’ sophisticated, almost-retro “look,” the humor and, most of all, the romance between the leads. I wanted to be just like Laura Holt. And I just plain wanted Remington Steele. The looks, the accent, the clothes … hubba hubba. In an effort to emulate the stylish Laura, I even bought myself a tan fedora. I never actually wore it, of course; in rural Minnesota, such affectation would stand out like, in local parlance, “a turd in a punchbowl.” And, as a smart, studious, straight-arrow Catholic girl, I was already enough of a social outcast in my small high school. My uncool status didn’t worry me, though – my role model, Laura Holt, was smart and independent and successful and I was going to be just like her.
When I entered Bemidji State University (go, Beavers!) in the fall of 1984, I brought my fantasy guy with me in the form of a very tasty poster of Mr. Steele (the very poster that Pierce Brosnan fretted about in a 1984 TV Guide interview, when he wondered, “Would De Niro do a poster?” My response: “No, De Niro wouldn’t do a poster, because teenage girls wouldn’t buy a poster of De Niro; he’s homelier than a mud fence. But if De Niro had looked like 32-year-old Pierce Brosnan, he surely would have done a poster, because he’s a smart businessman. But I digress.)
That poster brought me the only tiny kernel of cool cred I’ve ever had in my life, as the other girls on my dorm floor were very impressed. The first words my roommate said to me were, ” Ooh, it’s the hot guy from the beer commercial!” That insulted me a little, because Remington was my boyfriend and I was going to marry him … but I forgave her. I don’t know whatever happened to that poster. I wish I still had it! (I see it is available for a good price on eBay this very moment – would it be too, too sad for a middle-aged lady to pick up that little item of nostalgia?)
I remained loyal to the series all the way through the painful, barely-there 5th season. And then it was gone, and life moved on. I graduated from BSU with a B.A., then an M.A. in English, began a career in higher education. I confess I didn’t follow the careers of either Stephanie Zimbalist, whose subsequent work has been primarily on the stage, or Brosnan, whose transition into action film star specializing in shootin’, screwin’, and blowin’ things up frankly left me cold. I also felt some resentment toward the actor for all the grousing he did about the role that made him famous. His “Take This Job and Shove It” People feature still strikes me as shockingly unprofessional, and the way he ran down his acting partner in the press, no matter what the issues were between them on set, will just never be okay for me. To be honest, I remained peevish enough toward the man that I rooted for Colin Firth to win the girl in “Mamma Mia!”
Flash forward a few decades, to the fall of 2012. While dog-sitting at a home whose cable service was more expansive than my own, I discovered the MeTV network … and Remington Steele. I watched an episode, and it all came back to me. I remembered how I loved the show way back when – and I discovered that it held up astonishingly well after 30 years. It was also a lot funnier than I remembered; I found myself laughing out loud and realizing that when the world gained a Bond, it lost a truly brilliant light comedian in Mr. Brosnan. (He is at last returning to these roots in his newest film, “Love Punch” with Emma Thompson, which I am very eager to see, middling reviews notwithstanding.)
In 2012 there was a resource that wasn’t available in the 80s – the Internet. I soon found a wealth of RS-related content online, from YouTube videos to fan forums. I was in heaven! I quickly discovered, however, that the true Renaissance in Remington Steele fandom apparently occurred in 2007, the 25th anniversary of the series, and most of the fan sites I found had their heyday at that time. In short, I had missed out on lots of fun discussions, and haven’t been very successful in reviving the chatter on established sites.
Which brings me here, to my own Remington Steele episode-by-episode blog. It’s inspired by a blog for another of my favorite 80s series, “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.” My fervent hope is that others will join me here in dissecting and debating and generally celebrating this amazing series over the course of its 93 episodes. Be cautioned that this will be an affectionate, but occasionally irreverent journey. Unlike some of the most devoted fans, I don’t consider every episode to be a model of perfection, nor do I see Laura or Remington as faultless characters – frankly, they’d be pretty darned boring if they were! I look forward to digging into these two people, exploring their growing relationship and, when appropriate, pointing out their foibles (as well as plot holes, continuity errors and other oopsies that are inevitable in a long-term series).
If you come along for the ride, I hope you’ll bring your sense of humor, an open mind, willingness to share your thoughts and, above all, the understanding that Remington Steele was, after all, “just” a TV show … albeit a wonderful, inspiring, entertaining and classic one.
So … jump right in! I’d love to hear your Remington Steele story!