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|Index||24 reviews in total|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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....
When I can I love watching the re-runs in syndication, even if I have seen it a 100 times. They always get their man they are looking for or the bad always gets what is coming for him/her.Terrific acting by all the cast, even if the are second rate. The director(s) know what to do to this series to make it what it has become. It makes me sad that 3 of the main people have passed on since the show's departure.
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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
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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