In the Heat of the Night (TV Series 1988–1995) Poster

(1988–1995)

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10/10
Taking Residence
bkoganbing12 October 2008
21 years after Rod Steiger won an Academy Award as gum chewing police chief Bill Gillespie of Sparta Mississippi and Sidney Poitier told the world that in his city, THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS, the film was adapted into a successful television series about the new American South.

If you remember in the film Rod Steiger has the murder of a rich northern industrialist on his hands and reluctantly uses the expertise of visiting homicide detective Sidney Poitier to solve the murder. Now years later, Virgil Tibbs formerly of the Philadelphia PD Homicide Squad and now played by Howard E. Rollins, Jr. has responded to an offer from Chief Gillespie. Gillespie is now Carroll O'Connor and has made a place for Tibbs on the Sparta, PD as a newly made detective. Rollins IS the Detective Division of the Sparta, PD.

Because this show clicked so well these characters were fully developed over the seven year run of the series. We got to know everybody in the small town of Sparta, Mississippi and even the most minute characters were three dimensional, the writing on this show was so good. O'Connor alluded to his racist past and we saw a man in Chief Gillespie who was a work in progress. In the end he fell in love with black city council member Denise Nicholas.

Rollins had to adjust too, things don't quite work the same way in Sparta, Mississippi as they do in Philadelphia. And I'm not speaking necessarily of racial attitudes. Alan Autry played Bubba Skinner and he was something of a protégé of O'Connor's and he thought he ought to have been the detective. He was not a stupid guy either by any means. He and Rollins gradually developed a working relationship over the course of the show.

Gunsmoke was the first show to put the main characters within the context of the town they lived in. Beyond James Arness and the other principal cast members, Dodge City had a nice group of recurring regular citizens. That was nothing though like Sparta, Mississippi. Watching In The Heat Of The Night was like taking residence in that town for an hour each week.

In The Heat Of The Night was television series at its best, sad that it came to an end because of the health and other problems of its two lead cast members. It could still be running today.
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A Great Cop Show
Brian Washington8 April 2003
This show will always be one of my favorites. It takes a look at the so-called New South and shows the many ways it has gotten better and how in some ways it is still the same. In fact, I still prefer the television series over the movie any time. The late Howard Rollins was superb as Virgil Tibbs and the late Caroll O'Connor made the perfect Bill Gillespie. However, the real standout was Alan Autry as Seargent (and later Captain) Bubba Skinner. He is the perfect example of the tough guy with the heart of gold and he was what made the show special.
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One of my favorite all time shows
motorolatimex2 February 2005
I found that the series was very realistic, and in some cases very funny. The characters seem real, and the plots are interesting. The cast that was chosen could not have been better. That acting was done well, and it was very sincere. Especially, when the show got into the heart of difficult issues. This might sound a bit silly, but the show meant a lot to me, because it was one of the last shows that was true to what it was, and one of the best series that has ever been produced in my mind.The one thing that I would really like to know, if someone somewhere is trying to come up with a DVD collection of the series. I know that I would probably be first in line. It is a show that I enjoyed, and miss watching a great deal.
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Best TV Series
vama2 November 2004
I watch this show every chance I get. Acting is superb by all. I have no complaints with any aspect of this show. Opening music is sensual and delicious, and sets the stage for some good old southern intrigue, mystery and once in awhile romance.

Most pleasant is the way they throw you off the track, always keep you guessing as to ..who done it.. There is some racial tension-- although not to offensive.. It is usually resolved in a satisfactory manner..... A gentle reminder to us all to be fair and open-minded. No nudity or profanity, a nice change from todays stuff. A must watch....
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From an excellent film to an excellent series
raysond13 August 2002
This was without a doubt one of the best TV shows to ever depict the South the way it needed to be shown during the latter part of late 80's and continue into the mid-90's. This was in fact a worthy successor to the 1967 Oscar winning film of the same title. Its extremely rare these days to find a film-to-TV spin off that actually works on its own formula(the last show to accomplished such a feat and excel was MASH),and it does just that. It has an originality of its own--and it is sometimes quirky(since this set in the fictional Southern town of Sparta,and sometimes it can be downright eccentric)in the way that ordinary people act under circumstances in extraordinary situations. But in point,it taught us about the racial prejudices and as well as real life situations courtesy of its teacher and executive producer of the series....CARROLL O'CONNOR. It shows how racial problems can be solved,and also shows us that for one how drugs and drinking as well as abuse can tear a family apart and how to deal with those issues(several episodes consisted of the subject dealt with this brilliantly,including one scene where suicide was a major factor). It shows how a police force was very concerned with the community and what made it so good was that they were were not so caring but they knew what the community and its people were going through in a time of crisis. In other words,the police cared what was going on regardless of came about. Also,to make this statement....Carroll O'Connor is the ONLY actor in Hollywood who spoke out about the abuse of drugs in the community(he stepped out of character in one episode to speak about that which brought me to tears),and his show dealt with that exceptionally well. As the show made the switched from NBC to CBS in 1993,the show stayed focus on issues,but it also was the first to show an interracial marriage between characters. At its best it showed the all out emotions of the human condition,but its still is a beautifully produced show. Kudos to the late Howard Rollins,and Carroll O'Connor. R.I.P.
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As good as the original.
hamanncrosscreek26 November 2004
ITHOTN is my second favorite hour long TV series( right behind the Rockford files 1974-80.) The first season,while well acted and produced isn't as good as season two and three. The episodes filmed in Hammond Louisiana recapture the atmosphere of the motion picture with its run down buildings and the racist behavior of " Bill Gillespie". The stories just don't measure up, with the exception of " Road Kill" One of the entire series best episodes!.The four Joe Don Baker episodes (while Carroll O' Connor was recuperating from heart surgery) are among my favorites. "15 forever " is unsettling in its depiction of teenagers killed by a drunk driver.( Spartas district attorney! ) " The pig woman of Sparta" is funny and atmospheric. "Lady bug,lady bug"is dark and brutal."Vengeance" and "Sparta Gold" are two of Alan Autrys best. Scott Brian Higgs is hilarious as the eccentric "Randy Calhoun", a recurring character on the show.Lois Nettleton is very good as Bill Gillespies love interest and her shady past is revealed in the excellent "Aka Kelly Kay". I was so impressed with the series that we traveled through Covington Georgia on our way to Florida a few years ago. We saw a lot of the filming locations and toured the ITHOTN/ Dukes of Hazzard museum. Carroll O' Connor was totally believable as "Bill Gillespie", Howard Rollins upstaged the entire cast, bringing more depth to the "Virgil Tibbs" character than Sidney Poitier did in the '67 film. Hugh O' Connor who obviously wasn't a trained actor,actually grew into his "Jameson" role and was good enough to carry several episodes by himself! The last season was wearing pretty thin but had a very good run with some truly memorable stories. RIP Carroll,Hugh and Howard.
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Controversial issues made digestible for mainstream audiences.
policy13425 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This show was the best movie to TV developed series as I can remember. The movie took place in the 60's and it was groundbreaking in the sense of being the first film to ever have a black man in a position of authority. Sidney Poitier was the most influential black actor then and Rod Steiger had the biggest role of his career.

The series was more sanitized. You couldn't really have characters that looked like hillbillies on an 80's show. Therefore, most of the actors were rather good looking and were always impeccably dressed. The blue uniforms had neither stains nor sweat on them after the first season and the townspeople were not the mostly racist bigots you saw in the movie. The transformation was necessary for people to digest the show more easily for 80's audiences and it didn't affect the story lines which were for the most part exciting.

Over the years, Carroll O'Connor's character developed into a grandfatherly figure and Howard Rollins', though arrogant at times, had a sense of humor I think the Sidney Poitier character lacked. The supporting actors were all fine, although I think Hugh O'Connor was too wooden (a shame about his premature death though). The addition of the wife, well played by Anne-Marie Johnson, was well thought out. It gave the producers a chance to have Virgil spar with someone other than Bill and especially Bubba, who developed into an enlightened man too.

Every time you saw this show you felt that you were in the presence of a family unit who cared about each other and that was very comforting and it too helped to digest the rather nasty cases they would be involved in. Even though, almost a decade has passed since the show was canceled, it will always be a fond memory for me.
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A worthy successor to a great film
scarlett-3026 January 1999
It's extremely rare these days to find a film-to-tv spin-off that actually works (anybody remember 'Working Girl'?) but this 'Heat' is a worthy exception. It also has a strong, original slant of it's own -- the quirky (and, since this is the fictional South, sometimes downright eccentric) ways that ordinary people behave in extraordinary situations. Of course, in lazier moments this can sometimes mean genre cliches. And as the years go on it becomes increasingly difficult -- due to a series of well-publicized internal troubles -- to find ALL the stars together in the same episode. But at its best, the show has some powerful things to say about the human condition...and at its worst, it's still a beautifully produced hour spent with some very likable characters.
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8/10
Carroll O'Conner's last series was a good one!
Though most will forever remember O'Conner for his Emmy-winning turn as "Archie Bunker" in the classic "All in the Family," his last television role on the long-running "In the Heat of the Night" was still equally as memorable. Inspired by the Oscar-winning film, starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, the show dealt with the police force of the mythical town of Sparta, Missisippi, headed by Chief Bill Gillespie with transplanted Philedelphian Virgil Tibbs, new and black to a force that was unprepared for such a high-ranking black. Though the first couple of episodes dealt with the adjustments that had to made with the new man on the force, the racial tension in the department was soon eliminated as both The Chief and Tibbs, along with other policemen (the superb Alan Artry as "Bubba," David Hart as the down-home, tea-drinking "Parker," Geoffrey Horne" and Hugh O'Conner as the young cops, "Sweet" and "Lonnie Jameson," respectively) came to respect and trust each other.

Many of the shows dealt with timely topics as A.I.D.S., spousal abuse, rape, and corrupt politicians. One of the series' most powerful episodes is "A Trip Upstate," wherein Chief Gillespie is asked to attend the execution of a criminal (guest star Paul Benjamin) that he caught years before. The riveting execution is quite detailed and the dialog-less performances by O'Conner and Benjamin are Emmy-worthy. The eye contact between the two actors is unbelievably intense. Whether one is pro or con on the topic of capital punishment, this particular installment should have some effect, one way or the other.
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10/10
A very personal part of my life
DCBLUE2524 January 2007
"In the Heat of The Night" has been a very big part of my life since 1993. As a young Police Officer in the city of Winston-Salem,N.C., I recall catching the last two seasons on CBS. I was hooked!! As I watched every episode on TNT, I realized how genuine and true the characters were. I made my first trip to Covington,Ga in December 1996. I recall meeting some of the town folk and visiting the "Covington Flower Shop". (old gift shop) Everything looked the same; except the "POLICE" sign was removed from the exterior of the "Porter Memorial Library". It was like really being there. Howard Rollins died the very Sunday night I returned to N.C. Over the years going back to Covington, I made friends with Dan Biggers (Doc Rob) and Dee Shaw (Officer/Sgt Dee) Dan and I became such good friends he was the "Best Man" in my 2004 wedding. Dan and I returned to Covington back in November 2006. We always eat dinner at "Michaelangelo's" in Conyers,Ga. This was the "Old McGuffy House" used in many episodes. It is awesome how folks see Dan and crowd around the table. Mickey Jones (Willie Baylor) and I even became friends from one the "Heat" reunions and my wife and I were invited to his "Movie Screening" of "Simple Things" in Asheville,N.C. back in October 2006. Since 1998, my Law Enforcement experience changed from "City" to "State". The show still provided a means of escape and comfort even seeing each episode 100 times fold. Now, like a lot of good folks, it is gone, and no one can seem to tell us "Where are those DVD'S"!!!! I can only hope one day the DVD's will appear. All the Cast were great!!! I miss the departed and wish nothing but success to all the other Cast Members. Some have vanished completely, retired, regular jobs, Mary Kay, Politics, etc. I was hoping years ago before Carroll died there was a chance for a "Reunion Movie". Let's keep the fingers crossed for the DVD's...???
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a rollar coaster (contains spoilers)
J6 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I think the show was kind of a rollar coaster as far as quality goes. It had a slow start in the first season. It really took off after the second season, and remained high up until the beginning of the final season. It dealt with just about every kind of issue that a community may have to deal with over the course of time. Racial strife, murder, love affairs, robbery, rape, incest, stalking, drunk driving, government corruption, and so on. The Sparta police force was able to deal with the problems with professionalism and a determination to do things right. Even if it wasn't easy, or struck too close to home. But then the last season and the following TV movies all seemed rather tacked on to me. I think the retooling of the show that happened during the last season was a blunder on the part of the producers. Especially with the departure of Anne-Marie Johnson and Howard Rollins from the show. I think that the show had its moments during the final season, and remained a good show throughout the entire run, but the final season and the movies didn't measure up to the seasons that came before.
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9/10
A Great Crime t.v. show
pruetzd-785-4824076 September 2013
I seen the original Movie made in 1967 sometime in the 1970's and enjoyed the movie, It was an intense movie, and really reflected the times. I was in the U.S. Navy for 27 yrs and missed most of the good TV programs of the late 70's, 80's and most of the 90's. A few months back I caught an episode on Good Old WGN 9 out of Chicago ( I grew up in Chicago and remembered WGN and have always loved to watch them)I have been hooked ever since, I love the show, I like all of the cast, and I love the writing, their well written for a one hour show and it works great, I really like Carroll O'Connor's character and Howard Rollins character as Virgil Tibbs, The two actors work great together and you can feel the mutual respect that they have for each other and it really makes for a good crime show, the last couple of weeks WGN has been playing an episode on Sunday mornings, last Sunday it was a 2 hr show that I believe was part of season 8, after Carroll O'Connor's Character is Sheriff instead of Chief of police it was an OK episode but there was only a hand full of the original characters in that episode, still a great TV show. too bad that Carroll O'Connor, Hugh O'Connor and Harold Rollins Jr. are not with us anymore, It is nice to see there's allot of fans out there that love the show as much as I do, As some of you have written the show is a sort of "Comfort T.V.".
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my favorite show of all time
huge5205 September 2004
in the heat of the night will always be my favorite show ever, i loved that show and still catch the syndicated shows, they show on tnt here in nyc, i wish they would come out on DVD already cause id buy the whole set in a second, chicef bill gillespie, was the greatest sheriff i have ever seen and the show as a hole was awesome, i remember waiting all week to see the next weeks episode, great great great show, bubba, virgil, jamieson, and all the rest did a great job on a great show, if anyone knows of DVD release of that TV show, please let me know asap..... thank you.... its a shame that virgil, howard rollins had 2 die, to bad he was mixed up w/that junk, and the day carroll o'connor died was a very sad day for me and for all fans, of the heat and all in the family and many other shows he did,
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Possibly the Best TV Cop Show Ever
dragoneyez0126 March 2003
I remember watching the last season on CBS, then later catching re-runs on TNT. This show is amazing, with many memorable shows that caught my attention and didn't let go until the show was over. Many great performances by actors who sadly disappeared or were stuck in guest appearances after this show.

Basically, the "In the Heat of the Night" show picks up where the 1967 series ended (with some minor plot changes, and the show was updated to the times). Chief Gillespie (Carroll O'Connor) is much more comical and light-hearted than the 1967 character. Virgil Tibbs (Howard Rollins) has settled in Sparta and brings his wife, Althea (Anne-Marie Johnson) along. There are also many stand-out characters in the police department, including Bubba Skinner (Alan Autry), Parker Williams (David Hart), Lonnie Jamison (Hugh O'Connor), Wilson Sweet (Geoffrey Thorne), and Luanne Corbin (Crystal R. Fox). This show also broke ground by introducing Harriet DeLong (Denise Nicholas), who becomes involved in a relationship with Gillespie.

This show presented the south (and the police) very well, and consistently produced shows that kept your attention - even to the very end. There was also an element of comedy to each episode, that helped the show not to be dragged down to the over-dramatic. But, the comedy also doesn't make the show overly corny or stupid.

Everyone in the cast contributed great, consistent performances. It's a shame that most of the cast couldn't find work after this show.

Hugh O'Connor (Carroll's adopted son) committed suicide only months after the show was canceled.

Howard Rollins died shortly after the show was taken off the air from cancer.

Carroll O'Connor left acting for a few years, making guest appearances once in awhile, and died of a heart attack in 2001.

Anne-Marie Johnson has done several voice-overs, and I remember seeing her in a telemovie, 'Asteroid', a few years back. Other than a recurring roll on the now-canceled TV show, 'Grace Under Fire', Alan Autry, has disappeared. David Hart, Geoffrey Thorne, Denise Nicholas, and Crystal Fox have also disappeared after this show.

In the Heat of the Night was a great show. It was also a seemingly cursed show. None of the actors have gone on to "bigger and better things". And three have since died. R.I.P. TNT still re-runs this show, so, if you catch it, I recommend you watch the show. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 9/10
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10/10
Film locations on Google maps!
djmadlad29 January 2012
I see that there are still a lot of in "Heat" fans out there! My daughter ended up living in Covington, Ga. in 2007. I went looking for filming locations while I visited there. There is a report and guide on my findings on my web-site! I posted addresses that all fans can put in google maps "streetview" and see a picture of the actual location. I also took a few pictures while I was there. I also posted personal trivia about the show that I found out! Check it out at: www.djmadlad.com and click on "sparta, ms" My review is really on my web-site! I plan to visit Covington again soon, now that I have found more filming locations!
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10/10
Excellent show
tabascot14 January 2007
I have enjoyed all of the shows very much starting from the original movie with Sidney. I am a southerner from close to Hammond Louisiana and was raised all over Louisiana and Mississippi. The characters and settings all take me back to childhood as they depict life as it was in that time. Carrol OConner is virtually unbelievable as an actor and writer. He literally folds himself into whatever role he is playing making it so real he could probably fool himself. Rollins,Autry, young Hugh and all the rest of the cast are by no means far behind. It's a shame to lose this show and sad for the actors that have gone on. I think one of my favorites of the show is Quincy Jones as I am into jazz music. His scores for all the scenes really brings out the edge in all they are trying to convey. Real bluesy. Hats off-Hands down. I,m a little puzzled by ITHOTN though. Could someone tell me about that? thanks tom s
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Best TV Show
coc19 February 1999
This show starring Carroll O'Connor is one of the best shows done for TV. Every show taught you a lesson about real life in the south. It showed racial problems and how they could be solved; it showed how drugs and drinking can tear a family apart and how to deal with it. It showed a police force so caring and understanding of what people go through. This is a tv show that was made from a movie and it will go on and on in reruns because it was done so well. Again we have to thank CARROLL O'CONNOR for doing such a great job.
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10/10
In the Heat of the Night
rpenland0820 May 2017
I have followed Carroll O' Connor for years. I have never seen him in a bad role. He even co-starred in a couple of films with the Original Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Potier) from the original "Heat" Movie(1967).

The TV Series featured many famous co-stars from week to week, to include but not limited to, George C. Scott(Patton), James Best (Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane of the Dukes), Claude Akins(of Movin On fame as Sonny Pruitt- who also found fame as Sheriff Lobo), Ken Curtis (Festus Hagen of Gunsmoke), Joe Don Baker (of the Walking Tall series of movies where he played Sheriff Buford Pusser of TN), and many others. David Soul (of Starsky and Hutch fame) also directed one episode.

Carroll Produced, Directed and co-wrote many of the episodes and the Casting Staff sure put together a winning hand with the cast.
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10/10
In The Heat Of The Night TV Series When Is It Going To Be Released On DVD
hencelypoultry17 August 2006
I Enjoyed The TV Series In The Heat Of The Night I Would Like To Know When It Is Going To Be Put On DVD For The Public To Buy? It Was A Very Good TV Show And I Would Like To Be Able To Put It In To My DVD Collection. The Show Was On For A Long Time But Their Were Other Shows On For Shorter Periods Of Time And Were Not As Good And Are Already On DVD. Carroll O'Connor Did A Great Acting Job As The Chief And Later On As The Sheriff. All Of The Roles Were Casted Right To Me The TV Series Was Better Than Movie Was Every Player Fit Their Role Perfectly. I Really Like The Cast That Was Put Behind O'Connor They Really Made The Show And Each Episode Made One Cast Member Or The Other A Hero Of The Show Than Just Make The Same Person The Hero Every time.
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Excellent series
urfriend26 February 2006
I began watching this series shortly after it first appeared, and was grateful that it continued on in syndication for so long. I still watch any time I see it appear in a newspaper listing. I agree wholeheartedly with the 2 other comments I have read here on this site, and am glad to be given the opportunity to add to what is apparently consistent praise for the work done by the writers, directors, casting personnel, and the cast members themselves. Having had some limited law-enforcement experience, I can say that I have a deep appreciation for the character portrayed by Carrol O'Connor, not only for the quality of his performance as an actor, but for bringing us the very human side of law-enforcement officers everywhere, especially those in supervisory positions. It is the often conflicted needs of the duty-bound versus that very human element that was what brought us to the edge of our seats in these very well-written episodes, time and again, and yet humor was not forgotten as we shared in these peoples daily lives. I could go on for hours, but I will conclude only by saying, I miss it, sorely. I would be grateful to be notified at any time of any opportunity to purchase this series on VHF or DVD. While it is true, that I have enjoyed much of it in syndication ("re-runs") I am also aware that there are many episodes I have not seen, as I was traveling a great deal, and working odd hours during its "prime-time showings. I only just discovered this site, after having searched "Amazon" thoroughly and not found it. Again, thank you for letting me put my "two cents" in! Urfriend
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Simply Art in Motion
Diamond UK14 July 2000
How often have you seen them take a movie and try and turn it into a TV series? Moreover how many times has that series been just about the worse thing you've ever watched? ...Well forget it all those pass worries when you see in the heat of the night. This truly is a wonderful TV show. All the main characters are very warm.

The only criticism I have of the show it that in many episodes the audience are misleaded. We see a killer for example act naturally surprised when someone informs him of the death of his victims for example. So you exclude him from your list of suspects.

But apart from that, a very nice TV show. At this moment I just can't think of a better movie to TV conversion.
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