Welcome to The Horn Section's contribution to The Classic TV Detectives Blogathon, hosted by our friends over at the Classic TV Blog Association! Be sure to check out all the posts here on some of television's all time greatest sleuths, both private eyes and police.
The investigator we're spotlighting belongs to the latter category. She's a cop. (Oh yeah!) A true prime time pioneer, played by a beautiful star who charmed us and then walked away from it all at age 27. Without further ado--GET CHRISTIE LOVE!
|Teresa Graves as Detective Christie Love|
The limitations of network standards circa 1974 ensured that the resulting GET CHRISTIE LOVE! would bear more of a resemblance to the PG rated JONES than the R rated COFFY, but other factors were in play as well. Being a cop, Christie would work within the system (like intelligence agent Jones) while Grier's Coffy (and later, FOXY BROWN) dispensed vigilante justice. Foxy Brown memorably told us her black belt was in "bar stools", but Detective Love shared Cleopatra Jones' aptitude in martial arts.
|Teresa Graves' solo LP (1970)|
|In "Downbeat for a Dead Man"|
|Detective Love here!|
Christie encounters one prospective John en route to the entrapment, and after his price haggling is firmly rejected, he retaliates by yelling the N-word at her. But this is the slur's only appearance in the movie (or, AFAIK, the subsequent series), and once it's trotted out, Detective Love dispatches it and the delivering bigot with a cool two word retort. We will observe Christie facing sexism on the job (notably in the episode Pawn Ticket for Murder) but little to no racism--not even, surprisingly, from the criminals she arrests. A tad idealistic, perhaps, but still a refreshing approach for Wolper to take. Equally novel is the utilization of Seventies slang, in that it mostly comes from Reardon (sounding just like a teen's father trying to be hip) and the villain's squeeze (played by Louise Sorel)--not our hero.
|Harry Guardino---nightcap, ladies?|
|When wits and karate fail, there's always this third option.|
Harry Guardino did not return for the series, and departing with him was any hint of attraction between Christie and her boss. On the weekly series, Reardon would be a married man played by Charles Cioffi. While Cioffi is a dependable character actor (and ten years younger than Guardino), his Matt Reardon seemed even older than his predecessor's, coming across as more of a stock "exasperated boss". All in all, Cioffi's Captain was 180 degrees from the one played by the ruggedly virile Guardino.
|Charles Cioffi and Teresa Graves|
|Cioffi, Graves, Romano (L to R)|
|With her third and final boss, Captain Ryan (Jack Kelly)|
You be the judge. Would you have replaced this theme song:
With this one?
Well, your mileage may vary, but IMO:
|No way, Sugar!|
Many expected her to return to performing someday, but GET CHRISTIE LOVE! would remain her TV swan song. Tragically, Teresa Graves was killed in a fire at her Hyde Park home in 2002. It would be a mind boggling 37 years before ABC would have its second hour-long dramatic series headlined by an African-American actress (Kerry Washington's 2012 hit Scandal).
|37 years??? Are you kidding me???|
While this is Christie Love's first appearance here at The Horn Section, it's far from her last, Sugar! We'll be starting our GET CHRISTIE LOVE! Episode Guide with the next installment, eventually working our way through all 22 episodes of the late, great Teresa Graves' most famous role. Thanks for stopping by today, and be sure to check out the rest of the posts from my fellow Classic TV Bloggers over at the Classic TV Detectives Blogathon!