What is best TV private eye show? For me, it's a tie between David Janssen's HARRY O and James Garner's THE ROCKFORD FILES… with Darren McGavin's THE OUTSIDER coming in a close second. The plots on HARRY O were often lousy, but the pleasure of watching Janssen's portrayal and listening to the crisp dialogue (and, in the first season, the voice-overs) more than made up for it. HARRY O is definitely the most "literary" of the three …by that I mean that it was the show that came closest to capturing the feeling of reading a detective novel. Perhaps that's why I was so disappointed in the HARRY O tie-in novels, one of which is reviewed today over on the Vintage Hardboiled Reads blog. He says, in part:
This "Harry O" paperback is far from being a great crime novel, but as a huge fan of the series I did enjoy it. I would say that the characterization of Harry Orwell in the story is fairly close to the TV one. The spoken narrative on the show is definitely much better. And the book didn't capture that lonely, somber persona that David Janssen was able to deliver. I'll chalk that up as something that is difficult for a tie-in author to do. The writing is straightforward and the plot though interesting, wasn't too difficult to figure out. Even with the similarities of Hammett's Casper Gutman, I would of liked to have seen more of the Sydney Jerome character. He came off as the most colorful of all in the story. All-in-all, it still was a fun quick read for me. If you were a fan of the TV series, I'm sure you would get a kick out of this novel also.
And, just for the fun of it, here's the HARRY O main title from the second half of season one (I'll use any excuse to watch it again).
5 thoughts on “Harry O Tie-Ins”
Agree on the status of Harry O. And now that I think about it, The Outsider. I have and read the tie-ins on all three. They had their place. But David Jansen brought something to the role, the everyman that just happens to be a PI, that made the role outstanding. I remember the scripts in a better light, but that could just be because of the passage of time, though I choose to believe it Jansen’s portrayal.
Yes Harry O was a wonderful TV detective drama. The witty scripts, David Janssen’s portrayal of a well rounded character, dry humour, really good photography and a great theme tune. Definitely quirky! I liked Rockford but he came second to Harry in depth of character. Harry O had that touch of class you never forget.
I remember reading your post a while ago about the series and thinking what a lucky beggar you were to have the DVDs to watch. There are so many scam websites around. Why O why won’t Warner Brothers release them and put those of us who can’t get the DVDs out of our misery!
I love Harry O the best too, but wouldn’t call the scripts lousy, I’m not sure what makes you say that. I think they’re very good most of them, but I’ll agree it’s definitely Janssen’s portrayal that makes the show the great cult classic it is. He’s just perfect, absolutely ideal for it. And now we’re all looking forward to next year’s DVD release!
There’s a DVD release next year? That’s news to me. Tell me more!
I m sure you know by now that the DVD’s have been released for both seasons. The 1973 pilot is on the Season 1 set but the 1974 pilot is sold separately by WB for some reason. I remember this series, especially living in San Diego, but have only recently been catching up on them on the WB Archive web site.