Etched in Steele – 1

And on to our next exciting adventure!


It was a dark and stormy night.

funfacticon “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? snoopy


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?


Gomez Addams?



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.

madeline kahn-evening gown1980s

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.” 

behindthescenes Wikipedia lists this episode as airing on November 19. A bit early for fa la la-ing. I wonder if this episode was originally meant for later in the season?

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.


Oh, Murph!


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?



Filed under Season 1

5 responses to “Etched in Steele – 1

  1. eaz35173

    Perhaps Bernice just doesn’t pay attention to the lull in client activity this time of year? After all, it’s Laura who keeps track of the cash flow around the office. It may just have slipped Bernice’s mind. They do seem as tho they’ve know each other quite a long time, tho. Maybe they were friends for longer than Bernice has been employed by Laura?

    Love Laura’s little “almost spit” take in this scene. And, if you watch closely, as Bernice rounds Laura’s desk, Janet almost trips and falls into Stephanie and conceals a laugh as she tries to stay in character.

    I knew Charlotte reminded me of someone … Madeline Kahn!!

  2. daphgg

    Snoopy opening, Lol. Poor Steele is in trouble again.

    Great catch Janet’s stumble and giggle.

    I agree that Berniece is probably a long time friend who is a more recent addition to RSI.

  3. I always thought the opening of the storm in this episode was the same scene as the storm in “Gilligan’s Island”. I always wondered why Laura chose to call Mr. Steele Dostoevsky as opposed to any other literary great. Any thoughts? The bobble with Bernice and Laura will be fun to notice next time I watch this episode. Thanks for sharing your observations, I find everyone’s comments very entertaining!

    • I think Bernice might have been responsible for bookkeeping in the office, and so she knew about the agency’s finances. Just a thought. And I thought the use of Dostoevsky was great–I think it has a certain right sound. I think it flows and plays into her sarcasm about him thinking he’s a writer. I think many names could have been used, but Dostoevsky does have a certain greatness, and I think the literary device of contrast works well here.

  4. Ines

    Love Snoopy opening!

    I think part of the peace that is floating around the office, is because Mr. Steele is busy with some other diversions outside the place.

    About Dostoievsky, I went to Wikipedia, and there it says: “…he wrote some pessimists phrases, -almost-romantic- like “Poverty and misery make an artist”; which would apply to Steele, or perhaps that one of his greatest contributions to the narrative has been the narrator located inside the story, leaving the external position about anyone who is telling other’s story. Mr. Steele would write his own experiences, and they would be truly interesting.

    I have to watch again this part to see Bernice’s trips. I love the details you find, that show the actors as humans.

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