Mark Wahlberg to reboot "Spenser: For Hire" for potential features

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by soundboy, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. soundboy

    soundboy Senior Member Thread Starter

  2. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    Ulrich never seemed right to me, and Wahlberg definitely has more of the character's look, but it seems very odd that they're starting with a book NOT written by Parker.

    John K.
  3. Mirrorblade.1

    Mirrorblade.1 Forum Resident

    Ummm.. noo...... rebooting every 80's series will flop eventually..
  4. Karnak

    Karnak "81-82-83-84..."

  5. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    I liked the books I read, but for me Hawk was the best thing about the TV show and it's going to be tough to match Avery Brooks's portrayal. Well, that and seeing Spenser pull up and immediately park anywhere he wanted in Boston without having to circle the block, like has been done in real life by nobody ever.
  6. P(orF)

    P(orF) Forum Resident

    I’m all in favor of exposing Spenser to a new audience. But starting with a post-Parker book is a sacrilege, not unlike announcing a new series of Beatles remasters and starting with one of Ringo’s solo albums. Fifteen or twenty years ago I wrote a column for a weekly newspaper as a welcome sideline from my real job. They let me write about anything I cared to babble on about and one summer I did a series on detective novels. The first one was about Parker and Spenser and, if you have a high tolerance for boredom, or are maybe not familiar with the books, you might get something out of it.....

    “Sometime around the early 80s, there was a column in Sports Illustrated one week about a series of books (there were only 5 or 6 at that point) about an ex-boxer turned detective, Spenser, who was tough, smart, literate and possessed of a wondrous black sidekick, Hawk. The last line of the column was something along the line of “If you haven’t read any of these books, I envy you your upcoming experience.”

    At that time there were the classic detective series and police procedurals and there were the “action” series, less cerebral and more about kicking ass
    One of my best reading memories begins with me, at about age 30, sitting in my apartment in East Lansing, drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, and reading the current week's Sports Illustrated. I always read it straight through, front to back, and early in this particular issue there was a column about a series of detective novels featuring an ex-boxer named, only, Spenser. I guess the ex-boxer thing, though it never played a big part in the series, was the hook that got the column into SI, but I think it was published mainly because the writer absolutely loved the books, of which there were then maybe five or six. The last line of the column was something along the lines of "I envy you if you haven't started them."
    I immediately went out and bought the ones I could find, maybe two or three, and ordered the others from a local bookstore. I went home, popped a beer, and started reading Looking for Rachel Wallace.

    When I finished, a few hours later, I did something that I had never, ever done with any of the thousands of books I had read previously. I turned back to the first page and read it again, all the way through. I was pole-axed.

    Someone once asked me, a few years ago, what were the most formative movies that I had ever watched. I said The Graduate and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. She asked why those two and I said something about the main character in each being the perfect representation, the archetype, of his species and that one was the antidote for the other. It just depended on which one you thought was poison.

    Spenser seemed to embody the best characteristics of each character. Tough as the Man with No Name, smart as Benjamin Braddock, more literate than either, and funnier than hell. As this is written, there have been 36 Spenser novels and Parker seems to crank them out like an annuity payment. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as long as the quality stays up, which, despite a few minor (and one major) reservations, it has.

    Another note: I had a close friend in my late twenties who hatedreading. He used to shake his head in dismay when he'd come over and see the stacks of books all over my apartment. He'd give me the kind of look you'd give someone who had a hobby of hitting his thumb with a hammer. Until, on a slow afternoon with a bad football game on the tube, I handed him one of the early Spenser novels and showed him a three page section that ended with Spenser and Hawk beating the crap out of a guy who had been trying to kill Spenser for the last hundred pages. Standing over him, knowing that if he let the guy live, he would relentlessly continue his pursuit, Spenser tells Hawk that he can't kill an unarmed man. "I can," said Hawk, and shot him in the head." (I'm not one hundred percent sure of the wording but it's pretty close.) From that moment on, my friend became a reader. He borrowed all my Spenser books and branched out from there. Those early novels were the detective fiction equivalent of the Sex Pistols. They rocked the world.

    I'm not sure what effect they would have on a first time reader now. There have been a million imitators. There has been a lame TV show nominally based on the character. With all due respect, knowing that most people, if they've ever heard of Spenser, associate him with Robert Urich makes me want to puke. There is no real cinematic equivalent to the Spenser of the early novels, bone-tough,whip-smart, sexy, and funny. The dialog crackles; the characters, with one major exception, are beautifully drawn, especially Hawk, who is no one's sidekick or Uncle Tom. Bound to Spenser by unspoken elements in the past, Hawk is a career criminal and a fashion plate gourmet Adonis who may be the only person in the universe who can kick Spenser's ass. (And vice-versa).

    It all seems perfect, doesn't it? Almost too perfect.

    It is too perfect. We have yet to discuss the tragic flaw, the Achilles heel of the entire lengthy series. The dreaded Susan. Susan Silverman. Mother of a thousand sloppy soliloquies. Progenitor of more bad romantic scenes than Barbara Cartland. Parker considers himself something of a Genius of Love. He has written entire novels to prove his case. He is wrong. He is so wrong.

    (The next paragraph has a couple minor spoilers.)

    In the first few Spenser novels, the detective got around. He had a girlfriend that he slept with on occasion, but she didn't figure much in the plots. Then he met Susan and dated both of them for awhile. Then he went to LA and slept with a girl he was trying to protect. Then she got killed, he blamed himself, returned to Boston, committed himself to Susan and became one giant romantic tool.

    It is impossible to overstate the ick factor of the Spenser/Susan loooove scenes, which mostly consist of pages of mono-syllabic blather where each one tells the other how perfect they are followed by a then we ripped our clothes off and had hot sex line without any descriptive prose designed to actually make us feel something other than revulsion for the characters.

    There was a book about midway along where Susan went off with some other guy who, of course, turned out to be evil and twisted (presumably because he was unwilling to spend hours gazing into Susan's eyes and telling her how perfect she was) and Spenser had to go rescue her, and then things went back the way they always were. Ever since, the novels have been measured on a scale of more-Susan (bad) to less-Susan (good) to no Susan (terrific.)

    I would advise starting from the beginning. Even the early books are relatively short. By the middle they're extremely short. (I would recommend the library method of acquisition. On a dollar-per-entertainment hour scale, the later Spenser novels are the equivalent of spending ten bucks - or whatever the paperback price is these days - on a ninety minute movie.) Go in prepared, though, to read more than one. The first, The Godwulf Manuscript, is very much a case of Parker sketching out his character without having all of the characteristics that come to define Spenser fully formed. Hawk is introduced in the fourth novel, Promised Land, and the sixth, the previously mentioned ...Rachel Wallace, is the one that got me hooked forever.

    The quality of the books has remained pretty high, apart from the aforementioned Susan scenes . In a few of the later ones Spenser assembles various groupings of all-stars from previous books to do a Magnificent Seven type thing. Inasmuch as this promotes even more action, it is to be encouraged.

    In one of the later books Spenser gets shot, badly, and spends the rest of the book doing a Rocky type rehab thing after which he goes after the guy who shot him who is one of the best, and most complex, villains in any of the books.

    A few books later, Hawk gets his turn to do the same thing. It could have been the same book with the names switched, but Parker puts a spin on it, revealing a vulnerability in Hawk's character, and an awareness of aging, that comes as a complete and welcome surprise.

    Aging is an interesting factor in series fiction. Mostly, not wanting to hurt the old meal ticket, detective writers ignore it completely. In the early Spenser books he talks about having fought Jersey Joe Walcott, a heavyweight who retired in 1953. This would make Spenser, had he been even twenty at the time, approximately 80 years old by now. As I'm sure Parker would tell you, there is very little market for 80 year old action detectives. Spenser will not become Barnaby Jones. Nor will he ever cease to moon over Susan. Good and bad stuff happens. You learn to live with it. I still enjoy each Spenser as it comes out. A couple summers ago I bought all the paperbacks I didn't already own and read the whole series again, front to back. It was a great summer.

    If you haven't read them yet, I am deeply envious.”
    Simon A, Karnak and Bobby Buckshot like this.
  7. Tanx

    Tanx Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    I bet it'll do well. Boston is much trendier now than it was 30 years ago. I hope Wahlberg is true to his word and films in the city.
    melstapler likes this.
  8. neo123

    neo123 Forum Resident

    Northern Kentucky
    And how is Wahlberg's Six Billion Dollar Man movie going?

    It just got pushed back another year to 2020 and just recently lost its director for the movie.
  9. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    What? Did they auction off the rights to “Spencer for hire” for $20 grand someplace on the Warner Bros. lot? Jesus I barely remember this show. What is there to reboot? Robert Urrich’s growing paunch?
  10. shokhead

    shokhead Head shok and you still don't what it is. HA!

    A fav show of mine. Not sure who could/would play the Robert Urich part. He was made for it imo.
  11. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Forum Resident

    detroit, mi
    I loved the tv show.
  12. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    San Antonio, TX
    This? And yet I'm still waiting for the "Riptide" revival.
    Simon A and eddiel like this.
  13. Brenald79

    Brenald79 Forum Resident

  14. Mahalo

    Mahalo Well-Known Member

    Just watched it today. I thought it was better than the reviews gave it credit for. The actress playing Wahlberg's girlfriend did a decent job. The new Hawk is OK. Wahlberg is OK. I could have done without the Alan Arkin character.
    Brenald79 likes this.
  15. davidb1

    davidb1 Forum Resident

    Atlanta, GA
    I also thought it OK. Glad to see Iliza Shlesinger in a dramatic role. I found the music overbearing at times.
  16. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    Screenplay was mediocre at best, Boston was beautifully shot, and looked a lot cleaner then when I lived there. The Wonderland dog track was not exactly out in the country, though.
  17. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    mark wahlberg is a bit of an enigma for me.

    he can be really really good


    he can be really really bad.


    it fluctuates from movie to movie
    daglesj likes this.
  18. Brenald79

    Brenald79 Forum Resident

    This movie is awesome. Wahlberg’s in crazy shape.
    formu_la likes this.
  19. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    my wife and I enjoyed this...I have no problems with Alan Arkin...he was great!
    formu_la likes this.
  20. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    I think they used the old Ryanham-Taunton dog track as the stand in for Wonderland.

    I’d give it a B. Wahlberg still doesn’t get the extreme badassness that is inherent in Spenser’s character.

  21. englishbob

    englishbob Its a s*** business

    Kent, England
    He is the same in everything I've seen him in. I swear he doesn't act, just says lines.

    Like Liam Neeson really.
    JackBnimble likes this.
  22. eddiel

    eddiel Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    I forgot about this show until I saw this thread. I remember watching it but don't recall much about the actual episodes.
  23. soundboy

    soundboy Senior Member Thread Starter

    I forgot I started this thread.
    eddiel likes this.
  24. Quadboy

    Quadboy Forum Resident

    His girlfriend/wife? in the series was a gorgeous brunette.
    Up there with Diana from 'V' in the '80's hot TV babes list.
  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    Loved the old books, the old TV show, and done right, I'd still enjoy the new series. I love TV murder mysteries (a favorite genre) and read the books (My late Grandmother had superb taste, and brought me up right). We need some Janet Evanovich on the TV and big screen (especially the superb Stephanie Plum books)

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