View blog reactions Waiting for Speedway Fowler: Harry Orwell is the Coolest Guy I Know

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Harry Orwell is the Coolest Guy I Know

So I've re-discovered one of the great detective shows from the 1970's.

A small cable network has started re-running "Harry O", which originally ran from 1974-1976, and starred David Janssen as a former San Diego police officer who is forced to retire after he's injured in a shooting. Harry lives a decidedly down-scale lifestyle, hanging out on his broken-down dry-docked sailboat and living in a ramshackle beach house. Harry's car is often in the shop and he occasionally takes the public bus to get around. Harry's ally on the police force is Lt. Trench, played by veteran character actor Anthony Zerbe.

That's the basic set-up for the series, but it doesn't convey how great "Harry O" is. It's Janssen's show all the way, and he makes Harry into one of TV's great, grizzled, world-weary private eyes. Maybe it was because Janssen himself was battling demons at the time the show was filmed. (Complications from acute alcoholism would take his life a few years after "Harry O" left the air.) Janssen's Harry isn't a virtuous crusader. He helps people because he needs to earn a living, and because he doesn't quite know what else to do with his life. Janssen's rapport with Zerbe is top-notch, with the two actors intentionally stepping on each-other's lines and ad-libbing their way through scripts that, admittedly, are typical of most 70's cop dramas.

"Harry O" ran for just two seasons, and it's been mostly forgotten in the years since. But it's a gem. If you come across it on late-night cable, stick around. You'll see two actors at the top of their game in a genuine slice of 70's nostalgia.

Except they shoud've made Joanna Pettet a semi-regular. Kinda like Gretchen Corbett...
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?