Please Don’t Mention Cancellation to Remington Steele
Today, we look at how Remington Steele worked in a reference to its reversed-cancellation into its fifth season premiere.
In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a creator comments on/references the work of another creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their work. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.”
Remington Steele, the series about Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist), a private detective who countered the sexism of her profession by inventing a male boss, Remington Steele, but then had to hire a man (Pierce Brosnan) to play the character of Remington Steele, and, of course, hilarity and drama (and romance?) ensued as they were forced to work together (as everyone wanted THE Remington Steele on their case, even if it was really Laura Holt doing the detecting. However, the former thief and con man playing Remington Steele was helpful, as well), was canceled after four seasons.
After a wave of fan outcry and increased ratings (and before any announcements had been made about Brosnan possibly taking over as James Bond, but obviously, that was in the news as a realistic possibility at the time), NBC reversed its decision, and the show was renewed for a reduced order of episode for Season 5 (done instead as a series of three two-hour TV movies, with the middle one split up over two episodes). In the Season 5 premiere, Steele and Holt are on a crowded plane to Mexico for their honeymoon (they had to get a fake Green Card marriage to keep Steele in the country). Holt asks a flight attendant if there is any availability in first class and the flight attendant says, “I’ll check, but I don’t believe there have been any cancellations” and Steele visibly groans and says not to say that word. Holt notes that it is a sensitive topic for him.
Thanks to my pal, Bill Walko, for suggesting this one! Okay, folks, if you have suggestions for a future Meta-Messages, drop me a line at my brand-new, much easier to type out, e-mail address of firstname.lastname@example.org!
4 thoughts on “Please Don’t Mention Cancellation to Remington Steele”
from my memory you missed the most important part of the story. the reversal had nothing to do with fan outcry.
Very soon after the cancelation, it was announced Pierce Brosnan was cast as Roger Moore’s replacement as James Bond. NBC decided having the next James Bond would be a ratings plus and reversed the cancelation.
But the film company executives decided they did not want a cuttent TV actor and reversed the Bond casting.
Makes being upset over how cancelation happen even funnier.
However considering the relative box office of The Living Daylights and Goldeneye probably Brosnan came out ahead. I think someone said it is better to replace the person that replaces the star.
They reversed the cancellation before any announcement of Brosnan being cast as Bond. It was certainly something NBC would have liked, as well, but it wasn’t the reason for the cancellation reversal.
IIRC correctly Holt didn’t hire Steele, he just wandered in one day and claimed to be the real Steele and she was unable to get rid of him.
Backstory — Steele wasn’t hired – he “assumed Remington Steele’s identity.” Originally, he was a con man attempting to steal some precious jewels that the Steele agency had been hired to protect. Posing as a South African agent named “Ben Pierson” (play on Pierce Brosnan?), he slowly figured out there was no real person called Remington Steele. It was all a con and what better to attract a con man than another person who’s running a con — Laura Holt. The romantic attraction was there from the beginning. So, through a series of mistaken identity and opportunity, he wormed his way in and basically dared her to out him. Laura couldn’t without sinking her agency so she reluctantly (?) allowed him to continue, much to the chagrin of Murphy and Bernice — the other employees of “Remington Steele.”