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Spenser For Hire - the Movie Collection

3.8 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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(Jun 28, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For The First Time Ever
The Four Top-Rated SPENSER Movies
In One Explosive Collection

Following the surprise cancellation of the hit series Spenser: For Hire, ABC produced four full-length movies starring the late Robert Urich as the wisecracking-but-deadly Boston detective. Avery Brooks (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) co-stars as ‘Hawk’ in these television events based on the best-selling books by Robert B. Parker that The New York Times calls "one of the great series in the history of the American detective story."
Starring Robert Urich, Avery Brooks, Barbara Williams
Screenplay by Robert P. Parker & Joan H. Parker

When a 16-year-old girl disappears into Boston’s sleazy underbelly, Spenser and Hawk pull the trigger on a teen pornography ring that leads to a shocking final twist.
Starring Robert Urich, Avery Brooks, Barbara Williams, Alex Carter (CSI), Matthew Ferguson (La Femme Nikita)
Screenplay by Robert P. Parker & Joan H. Parker

Spenser, his ‘lady shrink’ girlfriend Susan Silverman, and Hawk investigate a brutal murder in a quaint New England town where snow falls in kilo packages.
Starring Robert Urich, Avery Brooks, Wendy Crewson (24, AIR FORCE ONE)

Spenser is hired out-of-town and may be out of his league when a terrorist group with a taste for car bombs targets a controversial African leader.
Starring Robert Urich, Avery Brooks, Cynthia Dale, Wendy Crewson

A TV news cameraman is found murdered, and Spencer is hired by an old flame to investigate a movie producer who may be shooting more than film.


"We’ll Always Remember Robert Urich As Spenser. And When We Do, We’ll Smile." -- USA TODAY

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Urich, Avery Brooks, Sonja Smits, J. Winston Carroll, Matthew Ferguson
  • Directors: Andrew Wild, Joseph L. Scanlan, Paul Lynch, Vic Sarin
  • Writers: Carol Daley, Donald Martin, Joan H. Parker, Monte Stettin
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Rykodisc
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2005
  • Run Time: 362 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009NSDW0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,403 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spenser For Hire - the Movie Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael A. Brown on June 7, 2005
Perhaps the signature role in Robert Urich's too short career. Spenser, with an 's' like the poet, was a tough talking Private Eye in Boston. He likes to cook, and he loves Susan Silverman. He garners help on a regular basis from Hawk, a former mob enforcer who respects what Spenser stands for.

The first two of these movies are decent enough. They capture some of the flavor of the TV show. Although the production moved from Boston to Toronto to cut costs. Also in a cost-cutting measure, they replaced the series' Susan (Barbara Stock) with Barbara Williams and later Wendy Crewson. (A move that Urich admitted was a bad one.) ABC produced the first two movies after cancelling the series. The latter two were produced for Lifetime Television.

Robert B. Parker, who penned the novels on which the series was based, co-wrote the first two of these movies with his wife. The quality of the first two scripts notwithstanding, the productions suffered from the move to Toronto. While it is a beautiful city, it doesn't have the same feel as Beantown.

The latter two cable movies are a hollow shell of what made the show great. It's basically a cut-and-paste job.

That having been said, I would guess that Warner Bros. is keeping a close eye on the sales of this set to decide if they'll release the great series on DVD. So, if you want to see the real "Spenser: For Hire" you'll have to go through here to get it.
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They say Robert Parker grew unhappy with the network interpretation of Spenser. they even say he objected to Urich in the role. But Parker probably owes a lot more book sales to Urich's signature role as the smart and philosophical PI in boston.

I loved this show when it aired, even though I was only 14 at the time.

Avery Brooks was exceptional as Hawk. So much so, they spun him into a solo series that ultimately failed. It failed because whoever was in charge forgot what made Hawk so popular - his wiseass, tough guy personality. All those Hawk-eque qualities got down played in the Hawk series. So it was nice to see him return to the 4 movies in the early 90s. (His Hawk was so good, that Deep Space 9 eventually had him Hawk-ify his Commander role on that show).

The lack of a regular Susan (or the return of the original) hurts these movies only slightly.

And this time Parker took the reigns and adapted them from his books. Eventually, he adapted one or two more with Joe Mantagna as Spenser, but it never worked as well and the series of movies ceased. Parker has now moved on to Jesse Stone, his newest novel character and Tom Selleck has made one TV movie that is also excellent.

Missing also here are original Belson actor and Lt Quark. But they play only minor roles.

Unlike a TV episode, these are fully contained stories told over a larger canvas that takes more time and a more film like pace. Also missing is Boston as the city they film in - very noticable and saddening. Spenser drives a Ford Probe rather than the classic Mustang, which is also a let down. But those are only asthetic items.

Let's hope that fans scoop these movies on DVD up, since word is that these are tests to see if the regular series 3 seasons are worth the time and effort to release. Let's show them that they are, and buy these when they come out.
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When are the 'people' at Warner (who I believe own distribution rights) ever going to wake up and release Spenser: For Hire the complete series? It makes no sense. Then, they throw this wish-wash at us. Sorry, I'm not buying it simply to push along the Warner executives to release the REAL Spenser! If you want my money TED, give me want I want -- UPDATE: May 26, 2012 -- From (in response to a user's question to the Warner Archive Collection's Facebook account: "SPENSER is being considered for mass-merchant release, but if that doesn't pan out, we'll be happy to take up the cause for his liberation." So, it looks as if the series may not only be coming to DVD, but it may even be coming out as a mass-merchant release! And if it doesn't pan out, it sounds like Warner Archive will potentially take over. However, given the interest in '80s detective series, this one feels like one which would really work as a general retail release, so we're hoping to see some movement in this direction for this series. We'll let you know when we know more.'
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Having been a fan of the series, and the books, each in their own way, finding these movies as a box set was a rare treat. I had only seen parts of these movies during their first-run, so to me they were new. Robert Urich IS Spenser, and the book scripts suit him even better than the TV shows did. He really brings the wise-cracks to life and delivers them so well, and fast, that you want to jump back a few seconds to hear the delivery again.

Several of the reviewers mentioned that the voice-overs were no longer an element of the new movies. While I still have one of the films to watch, all of the other 3 had a good bit of voice-overs in them, so I don't really understand what they are getting at. The replacement of Susan, repeatly, doesn't seem to make much sense... though I will say that I though Barbara Williams was closer to the book version of Susan than the others. I have seen one of the new Spenser films... and while Joe Mantegna is lacking as Spenser... the HAWKS are horrible. Avery IS Hawk... end of story. Here's to the series on DVD, may it come soon....
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