Mike Hammer: Private Eye (1997)
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
Show Name: Mike Hammer: Private Eye
Created by: Mickey Spillane
Starring: Stacy Keach, Shane Conrad, Shannon Whirry, Kent Williams, Peter Jason
and Malgosia Tomassi
Number of Seasons: 1
Number of Episodes: 26
Original Air Date: September 27, 1997 to June 14, 1998
I recently reviewed the original Mike Hammer starring Stacy Keach. You can see the review here. I was a fan. Yeah it was cheesy in some parts but it had its charm. I liked Stacy Keach as MIke Hammer. It seemed like the role was written for him.
I guess many people felt the same way. 10 years after the original series went off the air, then came along MIke Hammer: Private Eye. Was it any good? Let us find out.
Story / Brief History
Once again the role of Mike Hammer is played by Stacy Keach. Honestly, I could not see anyone else in the role. There was also a return with Kent Williams. However this time he played as Deputy Mayor Barry Lawerence. Not sure why they brought back the same actor for 2 different roles. It seems weird to me.
Although they kept the name of Velda (receptionist) from the 80's series, the actress playing her was different. This time it was played by Shannon Whirry. She was known to play in somewhat erotic thrillers such as Animal Instinct and Animal Instinct II.
There were a few new additions to the private eye office with Shane Conrad as Nick Farrel. He was kind of the sidekick. He did not do much on the show except to get some information and mostly did stakeouts.
Also, there is a "main character" that we rarely see called Maya Ricci played by Malgosia Tomassi (also Stacy Keach's wife in real life). I am not sure why she is listed in the opening credits on every show as you see her may be 5 minutes tops.
The story structure is pretty much the same through out the show. At the beginning there is a murder of someone close to Mike. He then gets involved somehow and solves the case. Very cookie cutter storytelling.
This time it seems that they tried to bring Mike Hammer to the information age. They used the internet a lot more. However, one of the lighter part of this series is the way that Mike Hammer tried to understand technology. He is old school and you know what they say, it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.
Mike Hammer: Private Eye Trailer
Mike Hammer: Private Eye Theme
The theme was the same as the 1980's version. It is a more smooth jazzy version of The Harlem Nocturne by Earle Hagen. This version however, seems to be slightly slower but you get the same bluesy feeling.
Where do I start with this revival? I guess I will start with my short opinion about the series and I must say that it is not as good as the previous series or movies.
Let us start with the positives. I think that Stacy Keach plays the role to perfection. Quite honestly, as the main character, he is able to hold the show together. Like I said in the introduction, I am not sure that I can picture anyone else to play Mike Hammer. He has the tone right. Yes he plays macho but the character in the book calls for that.
Now that we got the positives out of the way, let us talk about the not so great parts. The writing is not great at all. It seems to resemble the older shows but there is something about the writing that feels lazy and cheesy. There are a lot of overused cliches that just do not always work. For the most part, when it is said by Stacy Keach, it is ok. It is when others use it, it just comes off as cheesy.
Also, I know that the old shows always had that gorgeous gal that came in and would ask Hammer for help. However, here the sex factor is shot up to a 300%. This was also at the height of the NYPD Blue craze. So what sold for that show? Sex. So I would think the producers tried to bank in on that trend.
The way that the above came out is cheap. It just felt out of place. It did not feel that out of place in the 80's but it did in this version. It actually made Mike Hammer look like the old perv which is not fair to the character. I know that Keach did what he could with the character and he did very well, but he was going after everything that moved. Just did not feel like it fit.
Is it worth the watch? I think that it is not. It does not give the 80's version nor the books justice. It felt sleazy and cheap and now I know why it only lasted for one season.
Velda although helpful and not ditzy, is still there for eye candy. The male equivalent is the help Nick. Everyone else on the show that is good looking acts like they have less than a brain cell. If they are not portrayed in this way, they are overly aggressive and cocky. It just diminishes the experience of the viewer.
Also, there are a few things that do not make sense. In the 80's version the police captain was an old friend of Hammer and they served in Vietnam together. Here, the captain is someone completely different, yet they never even say why they are close? Also, the captain seems to do whatever Hammer tells him. At least once in a while, on the old show, the captain would pushback. This time, it seems like the captain is in Hammer's back pocket.
I think in the end, they had a lower budget and the writing was sub par. I think that they could have done something much better. If you are to watch this show, watch the 80's version.
Do you remember this show? What are thoughts on it?