Spenser for Hire

Promised Land

Here's the one that started it all. This is based on Promised Land, the Spenser story by Robert B. Parker. I've seen this one *many* times.

It's funny to watch this now, and see all the influences on it. There's the "black power" aspect, with the heavy focus on Hawk with the funky music. There's the Rocky influence, with all the scenes of Spenser running, boxing, jogging. There's the Charlie's Angels music at the end of each section.

We start with Spenser failing to protect a hooker; she's killed in front of his eyes. In short order we're introduced to his brand new office, a scummy ex-fortune-teller spot ... his girlfriend Susan, who dresses like a Victorian woman ... Hawk, the lurking black menace ... Quirk and Belson. There are a ton of "scenery shots" of Boston - of the bridges, the buildings, the landscapes. You see famous graveyards from the Freedom Trail.

There's also a fair amount of raciness here. The two are clearly not married - not even openly dating - but they're having sex in the office, in the shower, and anywhere else along the way.

In short order, Spenser is hired to find a missing wife. He finds her, and she's wrapped up with a pair of robber / gun runners. Susan the Guidance Counsellor steps in to help.

You get a lot of set-up on how literate Spenser is, how he knows about Herman Melville shipping out of New Bedford and being a runaway. You also get the connection of Susan saying she loves Spenser, but of Spenser being unwilling to say it back because he's not ready to get married. Throw into it the feminist angsts of this time, with women saying "I don't want to be taken care of any more - what is my life all about?"

Spenser's got some fun quotes. "Zeal distorts people". When he goes to shake hands, he explains that it's an old masculine custom - offer the sword hand to show there's no danger. There's even scenes of the Celtics playing, with Larry Byrd. Spenser drives around in his classic Mustang, and his apartment is elegantly masculine, with its cream walls and wood accents. Spenser hangs out in red flannel and drinks beer, while Susan drinks white burgundy.

The episode ends with Spenser asking Susan to marry him - and her refusing. "I'm not going to move to Boston, and you're not going to move to Smithfield," she says. But it's not quite over. When they get, laughing, to Susan's house, King is waiting. Luckily, Hawk stands up for Spenser and makes the two fight.

Humorously, the ending credits are very much like James Bond :)

Spenser for Hire TV Series episode listing
Spenser for Hire Main Page

The Spenser for Hire Books
The Godwulf Manuscript, 73
God Save the Child, 74
Mortal Stakes, 75
Promised Land, 76
The Judas Goat, 78
Looking for Rachel Wallace, 80
Early Autumn, 81
A Savage Place, 81
Ceremony, 82
The Widening Gyre, 83
Valediction, 84
A Catskill Eagle, 85
Taming a Sea Horse, 86
Pale Kings and Princes, 87
Crimson Joy, 88
Playmates, 89
Stardust, 90
Pasttimes, 91
Double Deuce, 92
Paper Doll, 93
Walking Shadow, 94
Thin Air, 95
Chance, 96
Small Vices, 97
Sudden Mischief, 98
Hush Money, 99
Hugger Mugger, 00
Potshot, 01
Widows Walk, 02
Back Story, 03
Cold Service, 04
School Days, 05
Hundred-Dollar Baby, 06
Now and Then, 07

The Jesse Stone Series
About Paradise, Mass
Night Passage, 00
Trouble in Paradise, 02
Death in Paradise, 03
Stone Cold, 04
Sea Change, 06
High Profile, 07
Night and Day, 09

The Sunny Randall Series
Family Honor, 99
Perish Twice, 00
Shrink Wrap, 02
Melancholy Baby, 04
Blue Screen, 05
Spare Change, 07

TV Series
Season List 85-88
Susan Silverman

Movies - Spenser
Ceremony, 93
Pale King and Princes, 93
The Judas Goat, 94
A Savage Place, 95
Small Vices, 99
Thin Air, 00
Walking Shadow, 01

Movies - Jesse Stone
Jesse Stone - Movie Locations
Stone Cold, 05
Night Passage, 06
Death in Paradise, 06
Sea Change, 07
Thin Ice, 09
No Remorse, 10
Lost In Paradise, 15

Main Spenser Homepage