CHARLIE GRACE. ABC-TV. September 14, 1995 through October 19, 1995. Created and Executive Produced by Robert Singer. CAST: Mark Harmon (Charlie Grace), Cindy Katz (Leslie Loeb), Leelee Sobieski (Jenny Grace), Robert Costanzo (Artie Crawford). Not available on DVD or for downloading. Six episodes are available on YouTube with badly out of synch copies. Total of nine episodes were reportedly made.

   There is a famous drinking game featuring the TV series Bob Newhart: Every time someone says “Bob”, you take a drink. Charlie Grace is perfect for a similar game. Every time you see or hear a PI cliche or TV PI gimmick, take a drink. You won’t remember a thing after the first commercial.

   Always likable Mark Harmon played Charlie Grace, a hard luck nice guy ex-cop turned PI. As a cop he turned in a group of corrupt fellow officers. Many on the force did not approve of his action. This has left Charlie less than popular with many of the LAPD.


   He has an ex-wife, Holly, and a twelve year-old daughter, Jenny. He feels guilty about his failed marriage and loves his kid. How Charlie ends up raising his daughter is the single surprising twist of the series. Those curious can check out the SPOILER PARAGRAPH below this review.

   Charlie has an ex-girlfriend, Cindy who is a rich powerful lawyer who keeps Charlie employed and out of jail.

   He has a car like Rockford’s for his car chases. He gets shot at and beat up on a regular basis. He breaks into places illegally. He has contacts, such as a computer hacker and finder of missing people, to do the visually boring legwork.


   Crawford, an ex-cop due to Charlie’s whistle blowing, is now a sleazy PI. Each week, usually straining logic and believability, Crawford helps Charlie with the case.

   Charlie’s office is in a pool hall.

   Beautiful women fall for Charlie quickly and weekly.

   Charlie is always broke, but has a beautiful two-story house in Los Angeles. The house is atop a hill, so he has to run up the stairs because there is an unseen dog that always chases him for no apparent reason.

   Charlie does a voice over narration that breaks the fourth wall.

   The series was never sure what it wanted to be, a 70s PI mystery or a family drama. Action scenes and cynical, sarcastic PI dialog did not mix well with the Hollywood pathos of a single Dad raising a young daughter. Charlie having to find a sitter for Jenny before he can search for the killer was not what Raymond Chandler meant when he compared a PI to a lone knight walking the mean streets.


   The series time period opposite Friends and Murder, She Wrote, was an additional reason this series lasted only six weeks on the air. Every TV reference book or website has errors regarding this series. IMDb claims the final three episodes were shown in May, but no other reference agrees. Crawford was not Charlie’s partner. And the big mistake involves the spoiler below this review.

   In the end, Charlie Grace was just one more short-lived TV detective series relatively few people even saw, let alone remember.

      *** SPOILER ALERT ***

   Charlie’s ex-wife, Holly (Harley Jane Kozak) was introduced with Jenny in the pilot. The Ex had remarried a rich man who neglected Jenny. The first episode after the pilot featured Step-Dad murdered and Mom arrested.

   The twist at the end revealed Mom did kill her second husband. The rest of the series dealt with the melodramatic trauma Jenny goes through with her Mom in prison for murder, and insecure parent Charlie trying to help her while solving crimes.