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Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer

by on September 28, 2011
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One of the greatest mysteries of the world has been solved. Why Ralphie’s mom was so against him having his Red Ryder BB gun. It was because Ralphie’s dad was one of the roughest, toughest private eyes of all time, who had hung up his gun forever to raise a violence-free family. OK, maybe that’s not true, but Darren McGavin is dropping the hammer on bad guys everywhere as “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” comes to DVD.

“Mike Hammer” is a show that has “classic” written all over it and I’m completely shocked that McGavin hasn’t been immortalized on TV Land with multiple reruns. The show itself is, of course, very dated in everything from its portrayal of the way men treat women to its extreme violence — tame by today’s standards.  In the show’s pilot episode, a group of inmates watches as two men fight. One of the guys grabs a shiv and stabs the other man off camera. When they come back to the man, he holds his stomach and falls over. The show still says a lot about society; people were appalled by the degree of violence in the show’s initial run, but our generation today would find it tame, if not downright silly.

The most enjoyable part of the show is McGavin himself, and he is by no means “fra-gee-lay.” McGavin is the epitome of the tough private eye and he is to the Mike Hammer series — later remade with Stacy Keach — as Sean Connery is to the Bond series, the one and only original. Many others can try to fill those wing-tipped shoes, but no one will ever be able to fill them the same.

Bart Burns is great as Captain Pat Chambers. Burns and McGavin have such a stupendous chemistry between them that the screen lights up whenever they are together. Chambers lays into Hammer, trying any way possible to get him to crack. He doesn’t like the danger that Hammer puts himself into, but through all of their bickering, they both know they could always count on one another.

“Mike Hammer” is a little on the cheesy side by today’s standards and is completely outdated but still a blast to watch. The show was brave enough to push the limits of its era and really carve out a place for itself in television history. I would definitely recommend this show to anyone.

The series collection lacks any special features, but the inclusion of all 78 episodes is enough to keep anyone occupied for a long while. “Mike Hammer” is the quintessential detective and his many exploits with dames and danger belong on everyone’s shelf.

Series: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: N/A