When you think of great detective shows of the 1970s do you think of Jim Rockford? Kojak? How about Harry Orwell? Who is Harry Orwell you ask? He is the main character in the detective drama, Harry O, which ran on ABC from September 12, 1974 to April 29, 1976. Up until the mid 1990s I was clueless about the show. I did not see it during its original run and it never showed up in reruns in my neck of the woods until I happened to capture an episode around 1994. I was hooked and why wouldn’t anyone be.
The writing on the show was sharp. The main character played by David Jansen, who best known playing Dr. Richard Kimble in the television series The Fugitive, is memorable and well thought out.
Harry is an cop who was shot and the bullet lodged near his spine forcing him to retire. He now makes a living as a private detective in his beach-side cottage (in San Diego during season 1 and LA in Season 2). A private detective living near the beach would almost become a cliche, but I think Harry O was one of the first.
The ratings for the show were good during the first season and improved during the second. You got to wonder, with a star like Jansen in a well rounded show with growing ratings, why did the show not live to see a third season? ABC at the time decided to go in a different direction. So instead of backing established shows like Harry O, we got Charlie’s Angels.
Jansen was completely taken aback by the cancellation and vowed to never do another TV series again. He followed through on this vow and never did in his too short life.
I had not seen the shows since the 1990s and was very excited to pick up a copy of Season 1 on DVD and I am happy to say I am not disappointed. While I do not remember which episodes I saw on TV, I can say with some certainty it was none of the first season. AND I think I like the first season better (although comparison if/when season 2 is released might help). The show feels more “high concept”. It seems for season 2 they retooled tried to make it less complicated if I remember correctly. This version of the show seems much darker.
If you like great 70s detective and want a show packed with great guest stars and wonderful acting, look no further than Harry O: The Complete First Season on DVD. As with all retro TV releases I am hoping we will soon be getting next season as well so I can make a full comparison between the two.
Order Harry O – The Complete First Season on DVD [via] Amazon
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