I learned yesterday that ANDY BARKER P.I., NBC's lowest-rated show of the season, has been shipped off to Saturday nights. Shucks. I liked it. I have to admit, though, that I ddin't see it lasting several seasons. What are some of your favorite P.I. shows? What made them last (or not) in your opinion?

By definition, TV and film can't go as far into the P.I.'s head as books can. By now, the P.I. voice-over has become a cliche. IMO, it's best to have an actor who can convey what the P.I. is thinking with body language. James Garner is great at this.

Also, with today's greater continuity, characters have to have room to develop from the first episode to the last. Are there any current P.I. book series you'd like to see as TV or movies?

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I always thought Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro would make a great series. I was LA last week and heard GREAT things about the Affleck-directed movie GONE BABY GONE.

Rockford was easily the best PI series. I think Magnum did a wonderful job of using voice-over. Peter Gunn was brilliant for its time, imo. I still love watching those.

I think the two most underrated PI shows ever were HARRY O, and BANACEK. I'd rank them ahead of Magnum.

I really hope ABC gives MARLOWE a chance this fall, and doesn't muck with it too much. From what I've seen so far, it could be good, but only if there is little network interference - something that will only happen if it's an immediate ratings grabber.

It's funny how cyclical the biz is. I pitched a single lead PI idea all over the place in 2004 and 2005, and was told across the board that the PI show was dead. Now, this development season there are a bunch of PI shows, most of them lousy.
I'm ambivalent about MAGNUM. I never fully "got" the character's mix of macho action and juvenile humor. I read that Magnum was originally planned as a James Bond-type with a girl on each arm, but Tom Selleck wanted to play someone more flawed and Bellisario changed things around. Magnum had personality for sure, and that's half the battle, but I don't like the way he always seemed to be mooching off Rick and T.C. Not to mention Robin Masters.

Can't beat Magnum's theme song or locale, of course, and Selleck has been great in other things.
I agree with you re: Magnum. Selleck is always engaging for me, and that went a long way, but there could have been so much more with that show and character. I think a lot of why I watched it was because it was the only PI thing going in the 80's.

After ROCKFORD, HARRY O, BANACEK, and PETER GUNN, then I'd list MAGNUM.
I generally enjoyed Magnum, but it was hit and miss. Each season would generally have a couple of episodes that were very good.
John Rickards' Alex Rourke books - I'd love to see made for tv movies (I think that's the format they'd best suit, not a tv show).
As I told Gerald on his Crimescene list. Andy lasted less that five minutes with me.
We've been watching ANDY BARKER and it's mildly amusing, but its legs are shorter than my daughter's. I think it probably would have been canceled already, if not for NBC's anemic line-up and the show's relationship with Conan O'Brien. Too bad, too, because I think Andy Richter is very funny.

PI stories are just so difficult to do well on TV. For one thing, you need an awful lot of good cases. If you're burning through plots at a rate of 24 per season, you've got to have some damn creative writers in order to make it work.

I also think that the genre is so ripe with cliche -- and so implausible in general -- that it's very tough to do it on screen and not have if seem either silly or, at the least, antiquated. We have different expectations when we watch a TV show or film than we do when we read a book, I think.

As for which character I'd like to see... I'd prefer it be an original creation, rather than an adaptation of a book. At least if you're starting with a fresh scenario and characters, you don't have to deal with the built-in baggage of a book series.
I take your point about baggage, David, but I also think--given the dwindling time shows have to make an impression--the name recognition could help. Paul mentioned the number of P.I. shows being pitched this season. I wonder how many of those are wholly original.
Spencer for Hire had it's moments, and I hear good things about the series of films based on Parker's Jesse Stone novels, who is now that I think about it, not a P.I.

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