Sunday, March 06, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Pat Morita is Ohara

Last week's discussion on David Janssen's unconventional, short-lived cop show Harry O sent my mind drifting back to yet another unconventional detective skein built around a beloved performer -- and with a weirdly similar title, at that. I'm talking about the '87-'88 series Ohara, starring Noriyuki "Pat" Morita as the title character, an LA detective who relies on his, y'know, "Eastern-ness" to help him solve crimes.

Yep, it was exactly as gimmicky as it sounds.

Were it not for audience familiarity with and fondness for Morita (both from his Happy Days tenure as Arnold as well as his then-continuing role as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid films -- for which he'd been nominated for an Oscar), I doubt the thing would have gotten any traction at all. Here's the intro, which is like a grab bag of '80s intro cliches (jump to 30 seconds in):


Ohara (pronounced o-HARR-uh) is basically "Miyagi as a cop," minus the Japanese accent. It premiered in January '87, and despite its star, didn't really make much of a mark in the ratings. However, not wishing to toss aside a known commodity like Morita by canceling his creation outright, the honchos at ABC started tinkering with the format. First, they switched Ohara from a police lieutenant to a federal agent.

Then they decided to have the non-gun-toting, non-partner-having Ohara carry a gun and get assigned a partner. Still didn't help. And then, just about halfway through the second season, the final revamp: Ohara and his partner (Robert Clohessy) became private investigators. Needless to say, that didn't work either, and by the end of the '88 season, ABC threw in the towel on Ohara after thirty episodes.

Today, Ohara is just another here-and-gone gimmick cop show of the kind that littered the TV landscape during the '80s, with only weirdos like me to remember they even existed, and even then, only when I happen to watch the Karate Kid movies. In fact, it's perhaps more notable for featuring Kevin Conroy, long-running voice of Batman, in a co-starring role, than for anything it managed to accomplish story-wise.

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Early Extinction of Dino Riders

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Pray for M.A.N.T.I.S.

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Hammerman -- Don't Touch This

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Jumping Back to 21 Jump Street

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