Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER

BkWurm1

The Legacy of Remington Steele

Recommended Posts

TV shows come and go but a few always stay with you. Every show I watch is measured against my first favorite and I find Remington Steele continues to stand tall and proud. No one forgets a star, do they.

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

While I'm nowhere near the classic movie buff Steele is, I do enjoy quite a few of them.  And every time I watch one of the films he cites as a comparison to one of their cases, I think about the RS episode and analyze how much the writers really did pull from the film.

I watch the Thin Man movies quite often, and every single time I watch Nick and Nora preparing for the dinner party with the suspects in the first film, I see Mr. Steele and Laura doing the same in Tempered Steele and hear him saying, "You make a splendid Myrna Loy."

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

On one of their cases, Laura wanted to be Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story), but instead Steele introduced her to everybody as "Myrtle Groggins."

Share this post


Link to post

Because of that episode I named one of my Barbie's Tracy. (I was a precocious viewer). When I was older and caught the show in reruns I had to laugh about Laura wanting to be known as Traci Lords. By that time the name was better known as the non de plume of an underage porn star who was trying to go mainstream in the movies. I know now it was just a funny coincidence, but at the time I really wondered about what the writers were thinking, lol.

On a slightly more serious topic, I can directly credit Remington Steele with my love of old movies. I was only 8 when the show started and I soaked up all the references like the starry eyed kid that I probably was. It Happened One Night remains tied with Charade as my favorite movie.

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

Traci Lords was perhaps not quite a coincidence. Creators of porn names seem to grab them from anywhere that strikes their fancy.

Share this post


Link to post

I think I credit this show for inspiring me to watch the many movies Mr. Steele referenced. I think this show still holds up very well, despite the lack of cell phones and what not.

The disguises, how Remington and Laura investigated...how despite he blundered, clients and the public still thought of him as the AMAZING Remington Steele.

Oh, and Pierce Brosnan was just oh, so very, very pretty. I think what I liked about this show, watching it as an adult years later, was how they didn't do the whole bullshit of will they/won't they? Because Laura and Remington certainly did! And I will never forgive the show for erasing that come season 2, or was it season 3? And don't get me started on the horridness that was "Season 5" or how they ended season 4. I already have a migraine right now, and can't afford to have my head explode.

Share this post


Link to post

I think this show still holds up very well, despite the lack of cell phones and what not.

I think the generally timeless quality of the show is an important part of its legacy, making it accessible for years to come.  And I think the numerous nods to old Hollywood play a large role in that timeless feel.  Even the clothing; their casual wear does sometimes scream '80s, but they both favored classic business attire.

I mentioned before my love of the Thin Man movies.  I had already developed that love by the time this series started, so certainly the show reminded me of the films.  (I loved the twist on the "gather all the suspects and suss it out as you go along" scene that ended every TM film -- there, Nick was the one figuring it out, but here Mr. Steele was the one doing the talking, but heading down the wrong path while Laura listened and swept in at the end with the right answer.)  But by now I've watched this show almost as many times as I've watched those films, so while I am still reminded of Nick and Nora while watching Laura and Mr. Steele, now I also think of Laura and Mr. Steele while watching Nick and Nora.

Edited by Bastet
  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

I need to rewatch the Thin Man films. I long ago saw them (rented at the video store- that seems like a lifetime ago) but it's been awhile. The films are wonderful and some of the few that let's the husband and wife come off as respected partners.

Re the question of did they or didn't they. When I first watched the show I thought they totally did and often, even to the end of the show but in rematches I don't think it was a recon, just unclear of how far their romantic trysts had gone. Ironically, in watching Scarecrow and Mrs King I thought the first time I watched that they didn't until they were married but in rewatching, they totally were from the moment they started dating!

Edited by BkWurm1

Share this post


Link to post

Re the question of did they or didn't they. When I first watched the show I thought they totally did and often, even to the end of the show but in rematches I don't think it was a recon, just unclear of how far their romantic trysts had gone. Ironically, in watching Scarecrow and Mrs King I thought the first time I watched that they didn't until they were married but in rewatching, they totally were from the moment they started dating!

Didn't the show make it seem that they hadn't had sex from just the dialogue in the following season? How Laura didn't trust him, wanted a commitment, or if not that, how he felt, blah, blah, blah.

Ah, but BkWurm1, the question is, when did Lee and Amanda start dating? Beginning of season 4? Though they didn't actually really kiss like they meant it until the finale of season 3, all the talks of having dinner, no "shop talk", etc., made it sound like they were dating, but, they weren't. Or...were they? I just really enjoyed and appreciated the organic progression. Hey, I think we should create a forum for Scarecrow too!  Whaddya think?

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

Sadly, I think the problematic nature of drawing out "Will they or won't they?" too long is also a legacy.  Call it the Remington Steele Curse, I suppose.

The season one finale closes with them on their way home to consummate the relationship (following their conversation in the bank about waiting for the right time risking something happening to one of them before that time ever came), but season two opens with them not having had sex. There are explicit references throughout the series about them not yet having made it to the bedroom, and I think there is such conversation even during the scenes after their "marriage" when they are desperately trying to find time and space alone.

On the DVD features, at least one of the writers freely admits they'd end episodes with the implication of sex, but then continue writing future episodes as if they're not sleeping together.  It's shrugged off as "That's television," and to an extent it is -- it's not real-life believable for them not to be having sex by the second season, but it is TV believable ... up until the third season, maybe.  You just can't ask audiences to suspend disbelief for for years.  Once they broke their Cannes pact ("strictly business," which they never could stick to because they're friends at the very least by that point), they should have broken it all the way.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

The season one finale closes with them on their way home to consummate the relationship (following their conversation in the bank about waiting for the right time risking something happening to one of them before that time ever came), but season two opens with them not having had sex.

 

But all the audience was ever promised was that they were going to go and have a good long "talk" so I just rolled with it.  Actually, I was young enough that I didn't pick up on the euphemism the first time around.

I do find it funny how a show where the main characters never slept together managed to be more full of romance than many modern day shows. Now a days I swear the moment the characters sleep together they stop all the romance like it has served it's purpose and that's that.  

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

Ok, I haven't watched this in a LOOONG time, but it was def my favorite when I was in early high school or so.  The episode I do remember well was one that resonated with me because I was in high school and not yet that familiar with sex and found the topic fascinating.  So that's why I remember the episode (don't remember which season--may have been a two-parter?) where Laura's house gets blown up and she goes to stay the night at his apartment.  He wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into the living room and they have that conversation where he gives her some of his backstory (possibly, it's left unclear as to how much is the truth).  During that scene she, all vulnerable after a hellacious day, says something like, "Tonight, if you asked I don't think I could resist" and he says "Tonight, I don't think I could ask."  (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist).

From that I assumed they had not done the deed yet.  Cause, seriously, if they were sleeping together by that point and her house blew up and she was all shaky and vulnerable, they would have AT LEAST shared a bed to sleep that night, so he could comfort her, etc., no matter what else went on, right?  So, yeah, I assumed that up until that point it had not happened.  But this was the 80s when they were not allowed to be as specific about these things, so who knows?

Share this post


Link to post

But this was the 80s when they were not allowed to be as specific about these things, so who knows?

I don't know -- most other shows in the 1980s were very clear about who was sleeping together, even if the talk about it didn't get as detailed as it might now. There was lots of shtupping on Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere and later on LA Law. I tend to think that the endless postponement was the Remington Steele people's own idea. At first, it was Laura being strong against temptation (which she readily admitted), but as the seasons went on, episode after episode concluding with a makeout session -- which we must then infer ended with everyone shaking hands and going to their respective homes -- it got a little ridiculous, and loyal fans thought so at the time. Other series were not being as prissy about this.

Edited by Rinaldo

Share this post


Link to post

Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere and later on LA Law.

 

Ah but these were the edgy, modern shows that my parents wouldn't let me watch.  I think Remington Steele came in a time of transition between no sex mentioned and a more broad treatment of it. 

In the long run I think Remington Steele by not trying to be edgy and modern is the show that oddly enough feels less dated. Yes the clothes make what I'm saying kind of a joke but overall I think it aimed to create that old Hollywood movie feel.  In the old movies couples could kiss without it being 10 seconds from hitting the hay.  It let the viewer have the fun of the building romance while still holding off on the big answers.  Plus, I think as silly as the notion that they never slept together was, I think that same silly convention is still used in modern day TV.

Probably the best case in point is Castle. (A show about as close to Remington Steele in concept as you can get)  Yep, it took them four season before the leads got together and may I add the complaint that at least in RS we got lots of kissing (and shooting at them while they were kissing, but still...)  On Castle they had to be in a full on relationship before we even got that first kiss.  Bones is another show with a similar vibe.  On that show they waited until the end of the 6th season and it was off screen.and we didn't get confirmation of anything until she suddenly was pregnant!

So as contrived as it seems that they never sealed the deal, at least they are in good tv company. 

Edited by BkWurm1
  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post
Ah but these were the edgy, modern shows that my parents wouldn't let me watch.  I think Remington Steele came in a time of transition between no sex mentioned and a more broad treatment of it.

Yes.  I think this is dead on.  We have to remember that Hill Street in particular was on the leading edge of new drama, pushing the boundaries, as was LA Law, albeit in a different way.  I've never thought of it this way before, but RS really was a "transitional" show between the fluffy, feel-good detective shows of the late 70s (Charlie's Angels, et.al.) and the more edgy, realistic dramas that emerged in the late 80s and dominated the 90s (and beyond).

Share this post


Link to post

where Laura's house gets blown up and she goes to stay the night at his apartment.

 

Red Holt Steele

.  An absolute classic episode.  I'd bet it's on everyone's top ten list. 

Ah, Nero, the true hero of the episode. 

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

I wasn't really sure where to put this, but I thought that MeTV would have done a marathon of episodes that featured Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who we lost last Friday. Granted, he wasn't in that many, so it would have been a mini-marathon, but still.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

I do find it funny how a show where the main characters never slept together managed to be more full of romance than many modern day shows. Now a days I swear the moment the characters sleep together they stop all the romance like it has served it's purpose and that's that.

 

Re-reading this thread the morning after having watched a Thin Man film for the umpteenth time last night in bed (I find all Bill Powell/Myrna Loy films supremely comforting, and have been under a lot of stress lately, so I'm falling asleep to them a lot lately), I'm struck anew by how groundbreaking it could have been for this show to put the characters together sexually after the first season and continue the banter and romance with them as an established couple.  That would have been a far better legacy! 

 

When The Thin Man premiered in 1934, it did so onto a movie landscape in which marriage was something characters spent the film trying to either get into or out of -- either the picture was about them falling in love, with a proposal or altar kiss being the final shot, or about them fooling around with others and scheming to escape their wretched existence at home.  Couples who began the film married and stayed that way throughout were almost exclusively tertiary characters, and older, boring ones at that.  For The Thin Man to open four years into Nick and Nora's marriage and present them as completely secure in that relationship and still in love - and hot for each other - was revolutionary, and audiences went wild enough to produce five sequels over 14 years, none of which ever put the relationship in jeopardy.  That they were end game certainly didn't take away from the fun of watching them banter their way through cases, even though the mystery took a backseat to the relationship as the attraction to viewers.  No one will ever touch the pairing of Loy and Powell, IMO, but the basic idea shouldn't be impossible to emulate.

 

Hart to Hart is an obvious imitation, but I think this show is much better and really could have been something different on television -- a show that opens as a "will they or won't they," lets us see the transition to an ongoing relationship, and then also shows us the happily ever after for another couple of seasons ... all while maintaining characterization.

Edited by Bastet
  • Love 4

Share this post


Link to post

×
×
  • Create New...

Customize font-size