Filmed in Los Angeles by December 3rd Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Robert Singer; co-executive producer, Randy Zisk; supervising producer, Kathy McCormick; producers, Mark Harmon, Frank Renzulli, Bill Schmidt; co-producers, Chris Long, Phil Sgriccia; writer-director, Singer; camera, Richard Rawlings Jr.; editors, Michael Bridge, John Showalter; production design, Jim Pohl; sound, Glenn Berkovitz; music, Jay Gruska. TX:Cast: Mark Harmon, Robert Costanzo, Cindy Katz, Leelee Sobieski, Daphne Ashbrook, Castulo Guerra, Allen Lulu, Harley Jane Kozak, Don Stark, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs , Janni Brenn, Lou Sandoval, Robert Axlerod, Don Maxwell, Barry Cutler, Michael Kagan, Rhoda Gemignani, Carlo Felix. Combine the narrative of “Spenser: For Hire” with the self-effacing personality of James Rockford and you get “Charlie Grace.” But unlike those series, which were known for their wit, scribe Robert Singer relies heavily on star Mark Harmon’s boyish good looks and smart-aleck demeanor rather than intelligent writing. All viewers need to know about the level of credibility in “Charlie Grace” is that the actor who brought us Freddy “Boom-Boom” Washington (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs) from “Welcome Back, Kotter” plays a hard-boiled, intensely serious police detective.
In the pilot, Grace — an ex-cop-turned-private eye after he’s ostracized from the force for uncovering corruption — is under investigation for the murder of a paroled convict he’d helped send to prison.
During the investigation, Grace must play mentor to actress Lauren Lane (Daphne Ashbrook) who is researching a role and wants to use Grace as her model.He also gets into recurring verbal sparring matches with ex-wife Holly (Harley Jane Kozak) as the pair argue over the care and custody of their 12 -year-old, Jenny (Leelee Sobieski).
During the conclusion of each of these events Harmon provides an annoying voiceover, in which he pontificates about the interaction, closing the seg by offering an off-kilter assessment of the result.
Many of show’s supporting players are indistinguishable and fade into the wallpaper in Harmon’s presence. That includes Ashbrook, who brings nothing significant to the table, except to provide the love interest for the good-looking gumshoe.
As a writer, Singer displays none of his trademark substantive writing evidenced in previous se
ries “Parker” or “Midnight Caller,” both of which often tackled issues as well as bad guys. As a director, Singer fares just as poorly. By letting Harmon wink and grin his way through the pic, Singer spins a B-movie feel to the show.
“Charlie Grace” comes across as little more than a bad parody of past successful private detective offerings. While that may have been an interesting hook — a sort of “Police Squad” of P.I. series — show is not that ambitious and clearly expects viewers to take it seriously.