With Mickey Spillane's most famous creation, Mike Hammer, back in circulation via comic books, let's take a trip back in time to when Hammer made his last foray into television.
Nearly 30 years after the first TV adaptation, produced by Revue (Universal) and starring Darren McGavin, had come and gone, Hammer had returned, with Spillane's name attached to the title. Hollywood agent-turned-producer Jay Bernstein thought he had a winner, and for a while, he did.
Stacy Keach, Jr. (ex-Caribe) was cast as Hammer, and at first glance, looked like he was more of a natural fit for the role than McGavin was in the late 50's. Everything got rolling with a CBS TV-movie that aired in 1983, and then Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer went to series in the winter of 1984. Bernstein was linked with Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television), and CBS slotted the series on Saturday nights. Back then, it was a safe bet, or so you'd think.
After two seasons, however, CBS, noting how the ratings weren't where they were supposed to be, pulled the plug. After another movie, "The Return of Mike Hammer", the series returned in the fall of 1986 as The New Mike Hammer, but was technically the third season, returning after a year off. Unfortunately, there was still some viewer indifference, and the third season was the last, with one final movie airing in 1989.
The hook wasn't just the hard-boiled noir crime drama, but the guest stars. Take for example this 1986 episode, "Harlem Nocturne" (also the title of the show's theme song, composed by Earle Hagen), with guest stars including Isabel Sanford (fresh from The Jeffersons), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters"), and singer George Benson.
I caught the show when I could on a Saturday night after bowling. I'm a sucker for detective dramas.