Night Heat (1985–1989)
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Better Part of Valor 



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Scott Hylands ...
Sean McCann ...
Deborah Grover ...
Laura Robinson ...
Michael Rudder ...
Nerene Virgin ...
Nicky Fylan ...
Larry Perkins ...
Hearn (as Lee Broker)


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Crime | Drama



Release Date:

5 May 1988 (Canada)  »

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User Reviews

The Hitchhiker Turns Drugstore Cowboy
20 December 2016 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Armed robber Mick Kurtz (Page Fletcher) and his dumb/drugged up partner Bobby Malik (Michael Rudder) knock over a small drugstore and steal all the pill bottles they can carry. Volatile Malik shoots the pharmacist dead before a confrontation with a pair of police detectives during his getaway with Kurtz results in Malik also shooting one of the cops - Colby Burns (Eugene Clark) of the Midsouth precinct.

Jubilant crankhead Malik is vexed by veteran drugstore cowboy Kurtz who is visibly disturbed the events. Kurtz has a street reputation as being hardcore and bad to the bone but he really isn't. He has just been at it long enough to get known by other criminals. A small-time thug who makes minor scores and then disappears until police attention is redirected to other cases he has long evaded capture. But he is well aware that every cop in the city is out looking for the shooter in his debacle with Malik.

Veteran cop Colby Burns's partner Freddie Carson (Stephen Mendel) blames himself for not doing more. So does Internal Affairs (or 'Special Investigations Unit' in Toronto). So does Burns's wife. Undercover narcotics cop Dave Jefferson (Clark Johnson) steps in to guide Burns's cop friends through the grubby local culture of hard drug users.

One of the things which made Canadian cop show 'Night Heat' so special was its multi-layered exploration of criminal cases which put it a notch above the standard 'police procedural' formula. The scope is wider and presented from different angles. We see supporting characters Burns and Carson featured prominently so that the depth of subtext will enrich other episodes by their mere inclusion.

A criminal like Mick Kurtz can be distinctly different than his associate Malik where in other such shows the two might be interchangeable or one might bully and coerce the other in a contrived backstory. The dynamic between Malik and Kurtz is different Eugene Clark's acting has never impressed me and his character was my least favourite on the show and I was hopeful Burns would get killed off. I also never found Stephen Mendel convincing as a cop but have found him quite convincing playing doctors - his most common kind of role. Their prominence in this makes it one of the least interesting episodes.

Page Fletcher is best known as his character in the cable anthology series The Hitchhiker where he had the title role of Rod Serling/Marlboro Man presenter of tales of the unexpected.

Nerene Virgin who guest starred in this episode and a few others as Colby Burns's wife combined teaching, acting, voice-over work and broadcast journalism in her career. Versatility helped performers in Canada's entertainment industry - not only keeping them employed but giving them a springboard to dabble in different things.

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