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Spenser: For Hire

By Wikipedia

Spenser: For Hire was a mystery series based on Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" novels. Spenser, played by Robert Urich, operated out of Boston and got involved in a new murder mystery each episode. It ran on the American Broadcasting Company network from 1985 to 1988.

The other major characters were Hawk, played by Avery Brooks, and Susan, played by Barbara Stock. In 1989, Brooks received his own, short-lived spinoff series, A Man Called Hawk.

During the early 1990s, Urich and Brooks reunited for several made-for-TV films based upon the original series. Barbara Stock was replaced in the first two made for TV movies by Barbara Williams and in the other two by veteran actress Wendy Crewson (Air Force One)

A 1999 TV movie, Spenser: Small Vices, introduced a new cast, with Joe Mantegna as Spenser, Shiek Mahmud-Bey as Hawk, and Marcia Gay Harden as Susan. Mantegna subsequently reprised the role in "Spenser: Thin Air" and "Spenser: Walking Shadow". The latter also starred Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) as Hawk and guest starred Eric Roberts.

Since taking over the role of Spenser in the more recent TV movies, Mantegna also does the readings for the new Spenser books that come out on audio.


Share Your Memories!

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

Your Memories Shared!

""Spenser: For Hire" is my favorite show of all time! I own all of the 'Spenser' novels and reread them frequently. My thoughts are with everyone who loved Robert, he will be missed."


"Spenser for Hire is my favorite Bob Urich show. Well that was easy since all the rest sucks. This show proves he can act and act very well. A very underrated actor. My favorite episode was the pilot, I think it was called "The Promise Land". Great line about the Boston Garden and the Celtics in it. And its always great to see the the "Rifleman" Chuck Connors. One of the better hammy actors. And to this day I still can't believe the guy playing Hawk was Cpt Sisko on "Deep Space Nine". WOW! Avery Brooks has awesome range as an actor. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it."


"The series allowed me to discover the books. As I was struggling with burnout, I had time to read. I discovered this profific author named Robert B. Parker and went to the local library scouring the shelves for his books going back to the beginning, The Godwulf Manuscript. I have read every book up until last year. They are delicious. The series is about a literate Boston private eye who solves cases and follows his own code of ethics that is stronger that his accolyte, Hawk, who is a hired gun. Spenser has a true lifelong romance with Susan Silverman, a divorcee, who evolves from a guidance counsellor into a psychotherapist as she obtains a Ph.D. at Harvard. Spenser with an S like the poet, is truly a remarkable character that does not necessarily translates well to the small screen. The series was remarkable for the presence of Hawk and a better than average private eye in Spenser. As for Robert Urich playing Spenser, I thought he had the build for it as Joe Montegna in recent Spenser films does not. However, Montegna could grow on me. I have been searching for 15 years to find out why the Spenser series is not in syndication (true, only three years and perhaps 75 episodes exists). I would buy or tape 'em all."

--Mark Vaillancourt

"I always loved the Spenser for Hire series; Especially after I won a contest for a cameo appearance on the show. I appeared as an extra in the January '86 episode "A Days Wages". If you blink, you miss me but the experience was awesome. As a contest winner, I had lunch with Robert Urich and Avery Brooks - two of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. They told me about producing the show and let me watch filming of several scenes. It was a once in a lifetime experience."


"I guess the reason I gravitated to the series was the fact that the title character was not your typical private eye. He could trade body blows with the meanest mobsters in Boston, quote Shakespeare or Chaucer and make Creme Brulee all in the same day. And he had enough of a rebellious streak to make anyone admire. Something else which made it so attractive was the different challenges Spenser would have to deal with. Some of them moral, some of them legal and the underlying motivation being that he wanted to leave the situation better than when he found it.

The quote which summarizes this the best was when his girlfriend asked him why he did what he did. He pulled a book down from his shelf and quoted Jean Paul Sartre. "In this world a man is truly alone and can count on no one to help him out. He must make his own way in this world and is left to his own devices to survive. Not the kind of world I want to live. How about you?" Spenser was a man who cared about integrity and would fight to the death any one's attempt to smear his. When someone was trying to frame him, he came out fighting. "I Have an apartment which is too small. My book collection is old and been read over and over again. My car is at least 10 years old and I need a new one. My pots and pans have been used time and time again. But you can have all these things. The one thing you can not have is my reputation. That is most important to me and I will fight to the death to keep that. " When his friend Hawk offered him a good part time gig in Houston, he could have taken that or taken time to clear his reputation. He wanted to clear his name. His friend Hawk knew Spenser well. "Cant have everyone thinking Spenser is not on the up and up. That Spenser code is important. But I kinda figured you would stay here. Solid" Hawk is a bone breaker and body guard who respects very few people but he respects Spenser and does not charge him for services rendered. The Spenser character is one of principles. A man who cares about people and who lives his life by helping them and making situations better than when he found them.

There was someone on this site who was wondering what became of the series. The last I heard was that Turner Television had the broadcast rights to it and it was last aired on TNT in the late 1990's. But after his meltdown with Ted Turner, the series may very well stay in mothballs until Turner gets over what had happened with the way "Lazarus Man" was cancelled. And that is a true shame."

--Cuyahoga Kid (Michael F. Paul)



Aired: September 20, 1985 - September 3, 1988

Cast: Robert Urich, Barbara Stock, Avery Brooks

Network: ABC

Genre: Detective Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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