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Hell Town

By Hunt

Hell Town was part of NBC President Brandon Tartikoff continuation of family programs. Debuting in the 1985-1986 TV season, he put the show on after Michael Landon's Highway to Heaven. Known as "God's one-two Wednesday night punch," NBC looked at a family combination/hit.

Robert Blake (of Baretta fame) played Father Hardstep. Father Hardstep was an ex-con who became a Christian in prison (jailhouse religion). After converting, he entered Catholic seminary and became a priest. His parish (St. Dominic's) was in a tough town, nicknamed "Hell Town" (set in east Los Angeles).

With Father Hardstep's street-smart toughness, his Bishop saw him as the perfect choice to pastor in "Hell Town." With Nuns who liked rhythm & blues singing, a tough and likable mother superior, and perfect balance of parish members/volunteers, Father Hardstep had a great crew to help bring God to "Hell Town."

Dealing with many issues like child abuse to rape; Father Hardstep took on and won the battles. Every so often, a foolish thug would fight Father Hardstep and got punched out; being a priest never kept Father Hardstep from showing "righteous anger."

Perhaps the best episode was one of the parish nuns being raped. Although arrested, the rapist was let out on bail. Brothers of another girl he raped formed a lynch mob and Father Hardstep tries saving him. The rapist kills himself, but the nun finds out she pregnant. She considers having an abortion, but through prayer, the Mother Superior's and Father Hardstep's counseling she keeps the baby, but puts it up for adoption to stay a nun.

In the end, baby is brought back to the parish orphanage. Her mother is put in charge of the orphanage and she can raise her and the other children. She keeps her nun position and has a new ministry.

Truly a remarkable show, but overlooked by the Nielson audience. Father Hardstep showed it was okay to be tough and still serve God. What else would you expect, when you have a church in Hell Town?

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of Hell Town? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I am emailing you out of desperation! I was a child actor. I had a very short career. I have been looking for information on the television show "Hell Town" I was on the show in one episode. Unfortunately due to moving a lot I have lost a great deal of the information about the show. I do remember, however my character's name was Henry and I played a bully. The episode co starred Danny Ponce from NBC's Hogan Family. If you can help me at all in acquiring a copy of the show I would be very appreciative. [Editor's note: Not that I can help you, but you didn't leave your email address! In any case, I do hope you find that episode.]"

--J. Boggs

"This was a fun and classic Awesome80s show. Robert Blake played the coolest "Father" on television!"

--Anonymous

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: September 4, 1985 - December 25, 1985

Cast: Robert Blake, Whitman Mayo, Jeff Corey, Vonetta McGee, Natalie Core, Rhonda Dodson, Zitto Kazann, Tony Logo, Eddie Quillan, Isabel Grandin

Network: NBC

Genre: Drama

Theme song: 'Hell Town' by Sammy Davis Jr.

Image courtesy of NBC


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