The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on July 21, 1991 · 226
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 226

San Francisco, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 21, 1991
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BY PAUL HENNIGER A Female LA. Gumshoe Los Angeles lave we come full-circle in private-eye I series? Lifetime Television's "Veronica Clare," premiering Tuesday, is being billed as "an original steamy and seductive" series. But how original is this new one-hour mystery series about a private investigator living in Los Angeles? Laura Robinson, a pretty Canadian with chiseled porcelain features, stars as Clare. She works out of a nightclub called Veronica's. Robert Beltran plays Duke Ra-do, Clare's partner, who works on cases with her and who "really cares about her." Tony Plana plays Nikki Swarcek, a veteran detective and close friend of Clare's. Go back 33 years, change the leads and "Veronica Clare" becomes "Peter Gunn" (starring Craig Stevens). He worked out of a nightclub, too, called Mothers. Rado could be the male version of Edie Hart (Lola Albright), Gunn's girlfriend, who sang at the club and sometimes got involved in his cases. And Swarcek is the spitting image of Lieutenant Jacoby (Herschel Bernard!). There are other character comparisons. Christina Pickles plays Kelsey Home, Clare's closest friend, who runs a bookstore in Santa Monica. The role is comparable to "Mother" (Hope Emerson), who ran the "Gunn" club. There's a lot of background music in Veronica's club, to accommodate tunes by Gil Melle a lot wailing sax, vibes and piano. There was a lot of music played in Mother's from Hank Mancini. "Veronica Clare" has also been likened to other detective greats of the past: Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Nick Charles. Clare uses the voice-over technique, as did those early private eyes with their running narratives for the audience. Sam Spade, upon entering a seedy flophouse, might say: "No self-respecting TV WEEKJULY 21-27, 1991 A A l Laura Robinson cockroach would be found dead here . . . this place would make the city dump smell like a flower show ..." Veronica Clare mutters offbeat things like: "I wonder sometimes if my arms will grow longer to keep people away . . . How do you describe shadows, once you call them black?" Creator and executive producer Jeffrey Bloom, as many producers of detective mysteries have done in recent years, is filming his series in a dark, somber tone and giving it a cynical, pessimistic mood. It's "film noir," meaning literally "dark (or black) f ilm." "Peter Gunn" was one of the first to visually suggest the dark world of crime and corruption, using many night scenes and lighting that created deep shadows. Bloom says he based Veronica on "the characters that Lauren Bacall played in her movies with Bogart. She played a 'womanly woman.' A very charismatic character, strong, beautiful and extremely feminine. I thought, what if that character was living in Los Angeles today and working as a private investigator? That's where the idea came from." But Robinson lacks the husky Bacall voice. If anything, she sounds like the female version of Jack Webb: rapid-talking, short, staccato outbursts. Robinson, a native of Kingston, Ontario, has the cover-girl look of a Vogue model. She's a comparatively new face on television. She was in "Night Heat," which, because of its late-night time slot, wasn't seen by many viewers. She was also in episodes of "Cheers," the defunct "Hardball" and the syndicated "Friday the 13th" and that's it so far. Veronica Clare's detecting will be over some familiar L.A. terrain that's been well trod by "gumshoes" dating back to "Dragnet," "Police Story," "Police Woman" and dozens of cop shows. In refreshing honesty she apologizes for an earlier episode that was shown to critics; it just wasn't good. "We're just getting the kinks out now on later episodes and starting to roll. "There's a lot of physical action later, but it's not a violent show. And that's what I like. I did 'Night Heat,' which had so much violence. What I really like about this show is more of the cerebral kind of cat-and-mouse sparring that goes on in a private eye's life; Clare using her wits and intuition. It's not shoot-'em-up violence." About her fast-talking: "I know, I know. I gotta watch that That's my natural cadence." About the Lauren Bacall look: "I've always been compared to her. Not in this show, necessarily. But I have her kind of flavor and I guess it works. I'm not trying to imitate her by any means. I certainly do admire her. Bacall and Hepburn, those women in those movies, they are the people that made me want to become an actress." Lot Angelei Timet John Carman is on assignment

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