TV Detective News: A Sex Change for 'McCloud'

In 1998, British newspaper journalist and TV personality Matthew Wright called Soul's Dead Monkey one of the worst plays ever staged in London — so bad that ushers had to beg the audience to stay after growing weary of the laugh-out-loud attempts at drama.

Soul successfully proved that Wright never even attended the play. Instead, the journalist sent a junior colleague to see the play for him. Soul was awarded $70,000 in damages and $350,000 in legal fees.

Soul has had his ups and downs. His 1983 attempt to turn Humphrey Bogart's classic Casablanca into a TV show was flop.

But before Soul's attorney calls, let me be the first to admit, I didn't see David Soul's TV version of Casablanca in the early 1980s, and for all I know, it might be one the most underappreciated masterpieces of our time, and he may have made a better Rick than Bogie.

Hawaii Five-O:

Talk about a recycled Hollywood idea: In 1980, when Hawaii Five-O finally ended its 12-year run, CBS thought it would be a shame to break down the expensive sets, they just created another tropical cop show. Thus Magnum, P.I. and Tom Selleck's famous mustache entered our hearts.

Five-O's beach-pounding theme was only matched by star Jack Lord's performance. As Detective Steve McGarrett, he wore dark suits even in the blistering island heat, and typically ended episodes by cuffing a bad guy and saying to his partner — in the ultimate deadpan voice — "Book 'em, Danno."

Ironically, it was Lord himself who couldn't be booked — as a special guest on Magnum, P.I.. Selleck wanted Lord on his show desperately and made several public overtures.

It would have been easy, since Lord remained in Hawaii up until his death in 1998. He became something of a local hero. His cop show was the first TV series shot entirely in the 50th state.

Perhaps Lord found Selleck's depiction of a private investigator in khaki shorts and an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt just a little too informal for law enforcement. Perhaps it was Selleck's mustache.

Lord was so popular, he inspired a porn movie legend. A 16-year-old fan named Nora Louise Kuzma changed her name to Traci Lords, added on a couple of years on a fake I.D., and went on to appear in at least 80 X-rated films before her real 18th birthday, including Tailhouse Rock and Huge Bras No. 3.

When her true age was revealed, the incident sparked a national furor as video stores raced to rid their shelves of kiddie porn. The underage adult film star's fake ID was so good, she even had some public officials fooled. Where is Detective McGarrett when you need him?

McGarrett, by the way, was actually the name of Lords' pet cat.

CHiPs:

Erik Estrada had no illusions. He's described CHiPs as "Baywatchon Motorcycles," and like Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, he never expected international stardom.

To capitalize on his sudden fame in Latin America, Estrada had to overcome a mildly embarrassing professional handicap. He couldn't speak Spanish. When he starred in Mexican "telenovelas" (soap operas), the New York native with Puerto Rican roots needed to have his lines fed to him over an earphone.

Estrada has since taken a 30-day Berlitz language class and now claims to be fluent. He recently appeared in a Spanish-language ad for Old Navy clothing, once again capitalizing on his stint as motorcycle patrol officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello.

Barnaby Jones:

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