The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Featured Series (R)
Remington Steele 
(NBC, 1982-1987)

Laura Holt
Stephanie Zimbalist
Remington Steele
Pierce Brosnan
Mildred Krebs
Doris Roberts (1983-1987)
Bernice Fox
Janet DeMay (1982-1983)
Murphy Michaels
James Read (1982-1983)

When private detective Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) started her own business, she discovered that no one wanted to hire a female shamus, so she created a mythical boss named Remington Steele.  Then a charming conman with a mysterious past (Pierce Brosnan) showed up and convinced Laura to make him a partner in the firm.  Laura was a top-notch investigator, and at first it annoyed her that all the credit went to front man Steele whenever a case was cracked.  But Steele gradually became more proficient at the sleuthing trade, and the two made an effective team.  Inevitably there were romantic sparks between them, though at first Laura tried to keep things strictly business.

Imaginative scripts, the chemistry between Zimbalist and Brosnan, and the ongoing mystery surrounding Steele's true identity made Remington Steele a consistently popular show throughout its four regular seasons.  NBC announced it would cancel the series in 1986.  Brosnan was all set to take over the role of James Bond on the big screen, but this news triggered so much publicity that NBC decided to renew Remington Steele for a fifth season and Brosnan was contractually obliged to go along.  The fifth season, however, consisted only of three two-hour episodes.  Brosnan would have to wait eight more years before getting another crack at the role of 007 in 1995's GoldenEye.

The success of Remington Steele rested in large measure on its two attractive, charismatic and talented stars.  Daughter of actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Stephanie Zimbalist was born in New York City but grew up in California.  She studied drama and dancing at prestigious schools such as the Strasberg Institute and Julliard, and appeared in the hit miniseries Centennial.  Irish-born Brosnan had a rather unhappy childhood; his father deserted him when he was a year old and his mother went to London to become a nurse, leaving Brosnan in the care of relatives and the strict nuns at a Catholic school.  Accepted as a student at London's Drama Center, he did journeyman work in plays by the likes of Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare before heading for Hollywood.  Staunchly supported in his Tinseltown endeavors by wife Cassandra, an Australian-born actress, Brosnan won the lead in ABC's well-received miniseries The Manions of America (1981) before landing the title role in Remington Steele.

Viewers enjoyed the way the series paid tribute to classic movies, often borrowing plot devices from films like Casablanca, Key Largo, Notorious and The Maltese Falcon.  We never knew much about Steele's obviously shady past -- smuggler, thief, conman and who knows what else -- but we were sure of one thing: He was a true aficionado of screen thrillers, and this encyclopedic knowledge often helped him (and Laura) solve the most baffling cases and survive attempts on their lives.  Steele even employed the names of five Humphrey Bogart characters on false passports. Remington Steele was a stylish blend of action, mystery, comedy and romance -- and became one of the memorable series of the 1980s.

Just some of the classic movies referred to in the series:
Arsenic and Old Lace, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Charade, Chinatown, Day of the Jackal, The List of Adrian Messenger, The Lost Weekend, The Maltese Falcon, Mirage, Murder on the Orient Express, North by Northwest, Notorious, The Postman Rings Twice, Rear Window, Spellbound, The Sting, Sunset Boulevard, The Thin Man, The 39 Steps, The Thomas Crown Affair (Brosnan would star in a remake of this film in the 1990s), Vertigo.

Series Highlights
License to Steele -- The series opener, in which a client wants the head of Remington Steele Investigations to personally protect a shipment of rare jewels.  The only problem is, Steele doesn't exist.
Thou Shalt Not Steele -- Pierce Brosnan's wife Cassandra Harris appears as Remington's old flame, who wants help stealing a painting that is supposed to be cursed.
Sting of Steele -- Stephanie's father Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. stars as Daniel Chalmers, conman and mentor to Remington.  He needs help outwitting a gambler who is trying to kill him.
Steele Away With Me -- Two-part second season opener in which Laura and Remington go to Mexico to learn why a man with a diamond-filled fish turned up dead as a mackerel in Laura's living room.
Steele Eligible -- Remington becomes the target of a killer when he wins a contest and becomes the focus of a magazine promotion as L.A.'s most eligible bachelor.
Steele At It -- Laura accompanies Remington to the French Riviera with thoughts of exploring the possibilities of their relationship, but Steele is more interested in a priceless dagger than romance.
Steele Your Heart Away -- Remington finds himself in Ireland with no identification, no money, and no memory.
Steele Searching -- Two-part fourth season opener in which Remington, thinking his relationship with Laura (professional and otherwise) is over, travels to Europe and gets involved in a plot to assassinate a British earl.

(NBC, 1984-1986)
Perry King, Thom Bray, Joe Penny

Cody Allen
Perry King
Nick Ryder
Joe Penny
Murray "Boz" Bozinsky
Thom Bray
Mama Jo
Anne Francis (1984)
Lt. Ted Quinlan
Jack Ging (1984-85)
Kirk Dooley
Ken Olandt (1984-85)
Lt. Joanna Parisi
June Chadwick (1985-86)

Cody Allen (Perry King) and Nick Ryder (Joe Penny) are a pair of Southern California beach bums and ex-Vietnam vets who get bitten by the Eighties entrepreneur bug and decide to go into the private detective business. (They've got the names for it, anyway.) Cody has a cabin cruiser christened the Riptide at Pier 56 in King's Harbor, and this becomes their base of operations. Cody also has a speedboat called the Ebbtide while Nick owns a venerable S-58T Sikorsky helicopter called the Screaming Mimi, both of which they often resort to in their cases. For more conventional travel they rely on Nick's classic Corvette (of course!) or Cody's tough ol' GMC Jimmy. The guys recruit computer wiz "Boz" Bozinsky (Thom Bray), an old army buddy. Boz has a orange robot (called Roboz) which only occasionally works the way it's designed to. And sometimes Cody and Nick turn to Mama Jo (Anne Francis) and the all-girl crew of her charter boat, the Barefoot Contessa, if they need help of the feminine variety. And in the second season, a surfer dude by the name of Dooley sometimes helped out, too. Initially the police look askance on the activities of Cody and Nick, particularly Lt. Quinlan (Jack Ging); they get more cooperation from Lt. Joanna Parisi (June Chadwick) when Quinlan is killed off at the end of the first season.
Perry King (b. 4.30.48, Alliance, OH) graduated from Yale University with a degree in theatre and went on to study under John Houseman at Julliard, before launching a Hollywood film career with work in movies like The Lords of Flatbush (1974) and Mandingo (1975). In the Eighties he made several TV movies, such as City in Fear (1980) and Golden Gate (1981) before starring in his first (and short-lived) series, The Quest. Since Riptide he has made numerous TV films, including Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer (1989) and Sidney Sheldon's A Stranger in the Mirror (1993). He has also starred in Melrose Place and, most recently, Spin City. His wife, Jamie Elvidge, works as a motorcycle journalist.
Joe Penny (b. 9.14.56, London, England) was born to an Italian mother and American father. Raised in Georgia, he graduated from Marina High School in Huntington Beach, CA and appeared in numerous made-for-TV movies, including Our Winning Season (1978), S.O.B. (1981), Gangster Wars (1981) and Savage in the Orient (1983), before landing the role of Nick Ryder in Riptide. In 1987 he signed on to costar with William Conrad in the popular series Jake and the Fatman. Since then he has continued to appear in TV films, such as Double Jeopardy (1996), The Little Unicorn (1998) and Two Against Time (2001).
Riptide was the brainchild of prolific Hollywood creator/writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell, whose other '80s series included The A-Team, Hardcastle & McCormick, Hunter, Stingray and Wiseguy.

Series Highlights
Pilot (1.3.84): To prove the sole survivor of an explosion aboard the boat Trade Wind wasn't responsible for the blast, Cody and Nick tangle with a local mobster named Santana in this two-hour series premiere.
Conflict of Interest (1.10.84): When the wife of mobster Ricky Brazil runs away after learning her hubby is plotting the murder of Lt. Quinlan, Brazil forces Nick and Cody to find his missing spouse.
Four-Eyes (3.6.84): Nick and Cody reluctantly take on a divorce case, trying to get proof that Roger Ramsdale's wife is cheating on him, and discover that the wife has hired a pair of female private eyes to get the goods on her husband.
Long Distance Daddy (3.27.84): Two Cambodian children Nick sponsors arrive unexpectedly in America because one needs heart surgery, and they become targets for a smuggler on whose airplane they stowed away.
Raiders of the Lost Sub (5.15.84): The guys agree to help Boz's sister prove her theory that a German U-boat full of gold sank somewhere off the coast of California.
Where The Girls Are (11.2.84): Cody's mother talks him into looking out for three spoiled college coeds on vacation in Southern California -- and who are targets of a kidnapping plot.
The Orange Grove (10.16.84): Federal agents try to recruit Nick and Cody into helping them prove their former army commander, Gen. Pittbull Johnson, has turned to drug smuggling.
Catch A Fallen Star (12.18.84): The boys save an elderly homeless woman from thugs, only to discover that she's a formerly famous screen star who disappeared 50 years ago -- and who holds the deed to Pier 56.
Curse of the Mary Aberdeen (1.25.85): A mysterious stranger hires the detectives to locate a cursed boat he blames for killing its former owners, and the boys discover that the Mary Aberdeen is now the Riptide.
Boz Busters (2.5.85): Boz reluctantly leaves the agency to take a job with a robotics company, but when the boys decide to pay him a visit they discover that the company doesn't exist -- and their friend has disappeared.
Girls Night Out (2.19.85): Boz is blamed for a series of robberies actually carried out by a pair of sisters forced into a life of crime by a loan shark to whom they owe money.
Fuzzy Vision (3.19.85): When the Riptide breaks down during a fishing trip, Nick and Cody are stranded in a village where an old woman declares that her nephew will soon be murdered, and she'll be arrested for the crime -- a vision that comes true.
Wipe Out (11.1.85): In the third season opener, Nick and Cody investigate the death of a surfer -- a death that occurred in 1964.
Does Not Compute (11.29.85): Boz tangles with a brilliant hacker when he is hired by Lt. Quinlan to disprove the claims of a city councilman, who accuses the police department of trying to discredit him.
The Wedding Bell Blues (1.21.86): When an eccentric millionaire hires the boys to find a model he's never met but wants to marry, the case leads Nick and Cody right into the middle of a mob war.
The Pirate and the Princess (3.7.86): On a Caribbean island, the boys agree to help an oceanographer whose efforts to locate sunken treasure are being sabotaged.
Playing Hardball (3.14.86): Nick and Cody agree to go undercover as players on a minor league baseball team to prove -- or disprove -- the owner's concern about drug use.
Dead Men Don't Floss (4.4.86): Lt. Parisi tries to end a quarrel between the guys as to who is the better detective by giving each of them a case to solve.