5 November 2005 | alan-trevennor
Now Available on DVD. Great series cut off in its prime.
This series was that rare thing in the 1970s - an original and intelligently constructed mainstream US TV series.
This was due to two factors, the personality and performance of David Janssen (the word unique is grossly over-used, but it truly applied to him), and the way that the character of Harry Orwell was constructed around Janssen's screen persona. The idea of an ex cop taking up private detection was not new, even then, but the details were what made this one special. For example, Harry often travelled by bus, being unable to drive because his car was always hosed. Imagine, Kojak or Jim Rockford doing that? No, neither can I. Harry also had a family history (ex-partner, money problems etc)that we actually saw him dealing with. Very little gloss on Harry's life.
So, an intelligently constructed premise, a great central performer, superb performances from the recurring characters - notably Anthony Zerbe as the acerbic Lt. Trench (replacing Lt. Manny Quinlan half-way through series 1, when the series' location moved from San Diego to LA at the behest of the studio suits). And then, we had some interesting and well written scripts - but yes, there were some clunkers too. Harry O was well directed, very well cut in the styles of the time and oh! - those Foley sounds, loud footsteps in longshots - I love it! The sound on just one of the series one episodes is appalling, but for all the rest, they look and sound great.
Perhaps because it came in at the middle or latter end of the US boom in detective series, Harry O ran for only two seasons. A great shame, it had a lot more potential to realise - and without Janssen it can never be recreated.
2013 UPDATE: The first series is available now as a box set from the Warners online shop!
2014 UPDATE: No longer a rare series! Warners have put out box set of both series now. You can buy on Amazon or direct from WBshop.
Excellent! Just ordered mine!