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Bastet

Season One: Two Pilots, Extra Characters and an Opening Monologue

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While I don't dislike Mildred, and understand the logic behind Michael Gleason essentially condensing the secretary and additional detective into one role, I do miss Murphy and "Miss Wolf" in later seasons.

And what I most enjoy about the season one dynamic is everyone in the office knowing that Laura is the real boss, and treating her as such.  It's a home base where she doesn't have to grit her teeth while someone fawns over Mr. Steele for her work.

I think the show started strong out of the gate. That what aired as the pilot was actually the second episode shot (the network bought it based on Tempered Steele, but requested a "premise pilot" showing how he became Remington Steele and thus License to Steele was born and aired first) alleviated much of the awkwardness inherent in a first glimpse at a new set of characters.

My favorite episode (edging out Red Holt Steele by a hair) is from this season, Vintage Steele.  I love that Susan Baskin, the only woman writing for the show, had what she called the "revolutionary notion of writing about the brains behind the operation" and think she gives nice insight into Laura.  Also, playing charades with the monk is a hoot.  "That makes him the Abbott of Costello."

I also quite like In The Steele of The Night, with the old Hayvenhurst gang having to solve their own mystery, and A Good Night's Steele, where they are undover at the sleep clinic.  "Believe me, Laura, I'm not trying to sleep with you; I'm just trying to sleep with you."

Edited by Bastet
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This was a great season. As said above, the dynamic with Murphy and Bernice knowing the real story gave it a flavor of its own. The cases were fun. (Of course, I realize that the first season of a series has an advantage, with the premise still fresh.) The idea that Laura and Remington were postponing romance despite firelit makeout sessions was not yet straining credulity. And this was the season when Stephanie Zimbalist was really rocking the fedoras.

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One of my favorite early episodes has to be Steele's Gold. The absurdity of it combined with some very nice character moments made it a standout to me. I loved gold crazy Murphy. I liked Murphy in general though wasn't as big a fan of Miss Wolf.

If the show had been done today (which it couldn't without a drastic reworking of the premise- more on that in another topic later I'm sure) after they wrote off Bernice and Murphy we would have still had one or the other pop up in the later seasons. I really didn't miss them when they were gone the first time around but in later viewings I wished for them to come back and see what was different and what was the same. It could have made for great TV.

Edited by BkWurm1
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In honor of the passing of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (I could not stand his politics, but I did get a kick out of him as Daniel), I'm going to rave about my favorite of his episodes, Sting of Steele.  It's a nice homage to The Sting, with the sting itself being nicely done, and Abigail is far more enjoyable than annoying this time around; I love her being in on it without Laura's knowledge.  Murphy has way too much fun pretending to be Steele, but, hey, at least he has something to do other than read an autopsy report.  The introduction of Daniel is just perfect, with finagling private jet service around the globe and Steele claiming the background noise is him watching a war film.   

 

Incidentally, since the show borrows so much from classic films, I've often wondered if the name Chalmers came from Libeled Lady (a terrific screwball comedy and one of my favorite films, something a classic film buff is quite likely to have seen); it's the name Connie and her father initially keep mistakenly calling Bill (Chandler) when they can't be bothered to learn his name.

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Libeled Lady looks like a blast.  Great cast.  I'm going to have to track it down. 

 

I could not stand his politics, but I did get a kick out of him as Daniel),

 

I never stumbled across his politics, I'm probably better for it.  ;)  I'll always remember him though both as Chamers and as the voice of Alfred in Batman The Animated Series.  I might have started watching that just to hear his voice. 

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I don't watch anything but season one when I do a rewatch.  I just couldn't stand Mildred and loved both Ms. Fox and Murphy.  Seems time to rewatch again.

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Interesting viewpoint.   I came to love Mildred but I think keeping Murphy and Ms. Fox around could have been very interesting too. At the very least they should have been reoccurring characters.   The contrast between Ms. Fox's acid tongue  and Mildred's loyal simpering would have been fascinating.   Mildred would have enjoyed having Murphy around the office too but she would have blocked him if he started getting any ideas, lol.   

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I'm sure we all remember the great episode that was "Vintage Steele" in the winery. But I was on a site (morbid but addicting!) about celebrity deaths called FindADeath.com, and I had no idea that the actor (David Huffman) who played Laura's ex-fiancé, Wilson, was murdered in 1985!  :-(

 

Here are the sad details per Wikipedia. The gist being he was stabbed to death by a then 16-year-old kid when he interrupted a robbery.

 

Between this poor man and little Judith Barsi (Laurie Beth), some of the guest stars seemed cursed.

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That's my favorite episode, but I never knew that.  I just read through the LA Times archives; what a sad case.  He didn't interrupt the burglary, he gave chase in the aftermath; he saw and heard the commotion of someone yelling at a quickly-retreating teenager, confirmed with the yelling guy that the kid had broken into the motorhome from which he was retreating, and chased him down in his van and then on foot into a nearby park.  They struggled, and the burglar stabbed him twice in the chest with the screwdriver he had on him -- he bled out very quickly.  The teen was charged as an adult and sentenced to a lengthy term.  Tragic all around.  "Wilson" had been married since he was young, and left behind a couple of kids.

Edited by Bastet

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It wouldn't surprise me if we tracked down the histories on any show that lasted more than a couple seasons to have some tragedies attached, but one of my on going pleasure from RS is bumping into the actors that were guest stars then, now in new roles. So many of them stayed active in the business.

I loved it when be Beverly Garland showed up as Amanda Kings mother and then later another favorite of mine, as Lois Lanes mom on Lois & Clark. And if I recall, Murphy played Jimmy Olsens dad on the same show. :)

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Beverly Garland was playing mother to half the young stars of TV series then -- the ones that didn't have Allyn Ann McLerie for a mother.

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I'm doing a re-watch (we'll see if I can make myself watch "season" five this time), and I just love the first season so much.  But it was a given that Murphy was going to become a tertiary character in short order, as Mr. Steele butted his way into investigations (or fell into them).  I understand the actor's frustration at doing little more than rattle off autopsy reports, but the writing was on the wall from the beginning.  At least he got a good send-off; the season one finale gave him the most to do in a long time.

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I never saw season one until many years later but while watching the Steele in Circulation episode I found myself irrationally hoping that they could bring in to the office Murphy's "stewardess" as his new partner on a permanent basis.  They could have used a psychiatrist in the agency on more than one occasion. 

 

Then I of course remembered that the show was over and yeah, oops.  I console myself imagining that Murphy moved to follow her across the country and they lived happily ever after as well. 

 

Poor Bernice though.  You know that saxophone player wasn't going to last, at least not past the eighties.  They still barely have made a return to popular music now. ;)

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I love Murphy. He was a great character. One of my favorite moments of his is in Steele Gold when he goes a little crazy though. :)

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And so I'm a bit backward. I just had to rewatch this season after the fuckery of the last, and it's still such a delight.

 

I did notice the lighting was darker in this season, which was a deliberate choice on the part of the creators.

 

I really really love how Steele slowly changes in this first season from the premiere to the finale.

 

And not to start another debate or anything, but I'm so glad that Pierce in one of the interviews addressed that "people" had said that he and Stephanie didn't "not get along" which was not true. That they got along very well.  That's not to say that there weren't times that things weren't tense on the set or that tempers didn't flare, etc., as we talked about in the other thread, but for me, I'm gratified to know that they didn't get along wasn't true. After all, Pierce didn't have to say anything about it.  

 

And now, Scarecrow & Mrs. King!

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