Remington Steele: "In the Steele of the Night"
This is my second and final entry to the Second Annual Favorite TV Episode Blogathon. You can see my first post, focused an episode of I Love Lucy, here, and the other posts here.
I was a little hesitant to make my second entry about Remington Steele. When I wrote about the show before (along with its siblings Hart to Hart and Moonlighting), the post fell with a resounding thud. I was hoping to find others who would geek out with me -- "Steele is so dreamy! David Addison is the best! Jennifer Hart didn't deserve to be a damsel so many times!" -- but it was to no avail. Despite that, I really wanted to try again with this blogathon. Maybe if I talk about one episode, it will inspire others to look the show up and then maybe I'll finally get my fan club. It's a long shot, I'm sure, but humor my delusions.
In the first episode, Brosnan steps into the role of Steele without Laura's consent so he can try to steal the jewels she's looking after. The audience never learns Brosnan's real name and his past is rather mysterious, with only bits and pieces revealed to us as the seasons go on. He has so much fun impersonating Steele that he decides to stay on, proving to be an asset to the firm and a love interest for Laura. The show is an open commentary on sexism, with people attributing Laura's successes to Steele and clients deferring to him rather than her. It gets frustrating, which it's supposed to be -- Laura is without a doubt a better detective than Steele, but she runs the risk of exposing the fictional Steele if she corrects them. (Annoyingly, the first season's DVD cover mirrors these sexist ideas by featuring only Brosnan with the tagline "Before he was Bond, he was... Remington Steele." Not cool.)
In its first season, the show had not only Laura and Steele, but Murphy Michaels (James Read) and Bernice Foxe (Janet DeMay) as well. Bernice was the agency's receptionist, a good friend to Laura, and weary of Steele, who never got her name right. Murphy was a detective working for Laura, and when Steele came on the scene, they became instant rivals for Laura's affections. Sadly, co-creator and executive producer Michael Gleason decided to replace Murphy and Bernice with Doris Roberts's character, which would be a combination of the receptionist and the detective. I'll always miss you, Murph!
The episode I'm going to touch on today actually highlights Murphy, as he and Laura are invited to a small reunion of their old agency. Four years ago, Laura left the hugely-staffed Havenhurst Agency to start her own smaller one, taking Murphy with her. They're excited to get away for the weekend, and even better, they didn't tell Steele he was invited as well so they're free of him for a few days. Or so they think.
That evening, Laura and Murphy get reacquainted with their old co-workers: Carl, Sandy, Donald, and Alan. Carl's had a streak of bad luck since he left Havenhurst, while Sandy found a rich husband and had a family. Donald and Alan, like Laura, started agencies of their own, Alan's completely flourishing, as evidenced by his ridiculous mansion. Everyone is sitting around and playing that age-old game "Best Murder," where they recount a tricky murder they investigated and have the others try to guess how it was done, when the doorbell rings. Laura is frustrated to find that it's Steele, but really, how can you turn away from that handsome face? (Laura may have better self-control than me. Okay, she definitely does.)
She and Murph want to call the police, but Donald points out that if they were hauled in for questioning, it could generate some really bad publicity for them
Who killed Alan? Carl is too obvious, right? What's Sandy's deal? Was Alan hiding something? Will Steele bluff his way through this whole ordeal? (That last one's a given.)
Since Remington Steele is a mystery show, I won't spoil the last fifteen minutes for you. You can watch the full episode here, along with many others, and clearly I couldn't recommend it enough. I'm warning you, though. The classic film references from Steele are fantastic, and the antics of the Remington Steele Detective Agency can get highly addictive. Did I mention the show stars Pierce Brosnan?