Sunday, 1 January 2012

Remembering Harry O (1974-1976)

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Harry O was an American Crime Drama series that aired for two seasons on ABC from 1974 to 1976. The series starred the late, lamented David Janssen and was executive produced by Jerry Thorpe. Harry O followed the broadcast of two pilot films: Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On (airing March 11, 1973) and then the second (with noticeable retooling), Smile Jenny, You're Dead (airing February 3, 1974), both starring Janssen.
David Janssen starred as the title character Harry Orwell, a San Diego cop forced into retirement when he is shot in the back. To support himself, he sets up a Private Investigation practice out of his beach house on Coronado Island, in San Diego. Henry Darrow originally starred as Lt. Manny Quinlan. Late in the series' first season, the location of the series shifted to Santa Monica, California due to the high production costs of filming in San Diego. Harry again set up a PI agency out of his beach house (somewhere along the PCH between Santa Monica and Malibu), with Quinlan killed off, and Anthony Zerbe (who later won a Primetime Emmy Award for his role on the series) became Orwell's foil/contact, Lt. K. C. Trench of the Santa Monica Police Department.
Additional characters included Farrah Fawcett - Majors, as Harry's attractive next-door neighbor and sometime girlfriend Sue Ingram; Paul Tulley as Sgt. Don Roberts, Lt. Trench's assistant; Les Lannom as Lester Hodges, a bumbling private-eye wannabe; Tom Atkins as Sgt Frank Cole; and Bill Henderson as Spencer Johnson, Harry's frustrated car mechanic.
Ratings for the series were initially fair and got a boost after the series was retooled in January 1975. Harry O was picked up for a second season and continued to gain viewership and critical acclaim, however, then-ABC president Fred Silverman decided to take the network in a different direction and canceled the series in favor of Charlie's Angels. The last original episode aired on April 29, 1976. The series cancellation greatly disenchanted star Janssen, who vowed never to participate in a television series again.

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