Robert Urich’s longtime detective Spenser, who slugged it out during the ABC 1985-88 “Spenser: For Hire” series and endured as a pop fave private investigator, has turned into just another gumshoe. Heftier, ham-fisted, doing little detecting, he sluggishly works through a threadbare case any rookie TV addict could solve.
Writers Joan H. Parker and Robert B. Parker, who wrote the literate, witty detective novels on which the characters are based, drop him into a case of a missing teenage girl in which the mother and father, who’s running for governor, don’t want her disappearance investigated.
Spenser’s psychologist-girlfriend Susan Silverman (played this time by Barbara Williams) leads him into the tale since young April (a winsome Tanya Allen) is one of her patients and her parents don’t seem much concerned that the young lady’s into prostitution. Spenser heads off on the usual private investigator runs — the pool hall, the half-lit backrooms, hookers’ turf and a girlie show. He and Susan, who exchange tepid badinage throughout the session, visit the girl’s starchy parents and wander off down side roads without discernible intent.
Avery Brooks’ stern Hawk is along, but he’s diminished.
Andrew Wild, whose credits stretch from his shoulder to his cuff, directed the vidpic loosely, using lots of distracting stage business and clumsy brawling. Vic Sarin’s camerawork is routine, but Jo-Ann Chorney’s production design — subbing Toronto for Boston, setting up good sites for the action — shows initiative.