Remington Steele, which graced NBC from 1982 to 1987, was an American TV show with a decidedly situation comedy premise: Laura Holt couldn’t attract clients to her detective agency because people didn’t want to hire a woman. She made up a boss, Remington Steele, taking the name from her typewriter, a Remington, and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League.
In steps a former thief and con man. While trying to escape a couple of thugs, he overhears someone looking for Remington Steele and pretends to be him. By the end of the first episode he has decided to make the fake identity permanent. Since this helps Holt’s business, she goes along with it. His true identity never is revealed – in fact, he does not know it, and spends time in later episodes trying to learn it.
Romantic comedy meets film noir
Much of the show focused on the sexual tension between the leads. The final scene of the series hints they finally will consummate their relationship.
In the meantime, there were other detectives and detective shows to reference. Steele loved Humphrey Bogart and loved quoting lines from famous movies. Sometimes he used techniques from films to try to solve real crimes, with varying degrees of success. Some episodes were openly inspired by noir classics such as “The Maltese Falcon.” All of the episodes carried the word “Steele” in the title, from “Steele Waters Run Deep” to groaners such as “Steele of Approval.”
Part of the show’s appeal was its James Bond-like lead. That provided an interesting twist when NBC canceled the show and Pierce Brosnan, who played Steele, was offered the 007 part in The Living Daylights, the next film in the Bond franchise. A fan campaign to renew the show, however, succeeded and the film role was offered instead to Timothy Dalton. Brosnan later prevailed, becoming 007 in 1995’s GoldenEye.