Classic TV cheese: Silk Stalkings

silkIt doesn’t take much to catch the attention of a 15-year-old boy, but when CBS introduced its “Crimetime After Primetime” lineup of late-night shows in 1991, the saucy cocktail of sex, money and murder was sweet manna for my teenage thirst for all things lurid.

The cream of the crop would turn out to be “Silk Stalkings,” a stereotypical cop show that managed to survive for eight seasons across two networks. “Silk Stalkings” was cheesy, predictable, poorly acted and cheap – but I loved it (at least for the first five seasons; more on that later). 

Right from the start, the show did nothing to hide its sensationalistic tendencies. Normally an episode started out with some sort of murder, usually right after a sexual episode. And then, the theme song kicked in…

HOW AWESOME IS THAT!! Let me be clear – this into has absolutely nothing to do with the show at all, save for the fact that Mitzi Kapture and Rob Estes are in it. I guess the opening somewhat conveys the “crimes of passion” angle of the show, but it is so completely random. And you can’t beat that guitar strumming, or the moaning.

So yes, relative unknowns Kapture (whose only notable role to this point was in “Angel III”) and Estes (of “Iron Eagle III” fame) starred as Palm Beach cops Rita and Chris, who always found themselves mixed up in the crimes of the wealthy and bored. They both called each other “Sam,” in homage to golfer Sam Snead, and they had the kind of unrequited romance that made their relationship compelling.

If you watched now, you’d probably find most of the episodes incredibly tame and labored, but at the time, this was pretty racy stuff – after all, CBS was showing it at 11:30 p.m. for a reason. There wasn’t a lot of overt sex on the air in 91, and “Stalkings” pushed the envelope at times.

Ben Vereen starred for a while as the captain, but when he was injured in an auto accident he left the show. Other familiar faces included Danny Gans (who had a recurring role), Lana Clarkson (killed by Phil Spector), Gilbert Gottfried, Gloria Reuben and Greg Grunberg.

When CBS ended “Crimetime” in 1993 (after signing David Letterman), “Silk” moved on to USA, where it anchored their lineup for years.

However, Kapture’s pregnancy and Estes’ desire to move on to bigger and better things led to the show eventual demise. The two cops became lovers, Rita became pregnant and Chris was killed off. It was a shocking development, and one that left fans of the show bitter to this day.

The first set of replacement cops did not stick at all, and the less said about them the better. However, they did find an OK mix with Janet Gunn and Chris Potter, two TV vets who provided a little spark to their roles as former married cops now on Rita and Chris’ beat.

By that time, however, the show was running on fumes, and USA put it down with little fanfare in 1999. I was still watching then, although not as religiously as during the Chris and Rita years. Kapture didn’t do a whole lot post “Silk,” but Estes made a name for himself on “Melrose Place” and various TV movies.

I’d say they don’t make em like this anymore, but ABC’s “Castle” is a pretty close attempt at mimicing the tone – if not exactly the cases – of “Silk,” but without the cheesy goodness we all love.

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~ by Elliott on July 16, 2009.

2 Responses to “Classic TV cheese: Silk Stalkings”

  1. I remember this show well. I wonder if Emily Deschanel studied Kapture’s performance for her role on Bones (another somewhat similar show).

  2. How do you remember these old, substandard shows. And I didn’t realize it stayed on the air for so long. Not a criticism. I still watch St Elsewhere on American Lfe Channel just to see the young Denzel Washington and Mark Harmon with that great big thick mustache.

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