Tonight I got into a conversation with some friends about old TV shows from the past that we really liked, and I brought up A Man Called Hawk. You remember him don’t you? A brother so cool that he could literally drive a car at night with tinted windows with shades on. Now, THAT’S one bad mutha’.
For those you youngsters out there, you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Hawk was a spin-off series from the ABC Network popular detective TV show Spencer For Hire. Hawk, who was played by Avery Brooks, was Spencer’s sort of friend and occasional partner.
Yet, thankfully, he was his own man, and never took risks or sacrficed his own safety for Spencer. No devoted servant was he. Spencer was his friend, but only up to a point. He looked out for No. 1 and if Spencer needed him, which seemed to be all the time, he would help him out. Maybe. If he had the time.
But Hawk was so charismatic and became so popular that ABC gave the character his own show, which premiered in January 1989. Unfortunately, it only ran for 13 episodes.
In the show, Hawk had relocated from Boston, where Spencer was based, back to his hometown of Washington D.C. Once settled there he became a kind of do-gooder helping out desperate people in trouble who had nowhere to turn. It was full of action and had a certain gritty vibe to it. It was sort of like a 70’s blaxplotation movie every week.
But with the show centered on Hawk, Brooks gave him some depth. He was a jack-of-all-trades and a Renaissance man to boot. He collected African art, played the vibes and chess, and was skilled in martial arts. He was a man’s man, and a real genuine black masculine presence on TV when they were so rare (even today).
And when you look at the talent who appeared on various episodes, you’ll be amazed. Aside from Angela Bassett, who played Hawk’s girlfriend in a few episodes, other guest stars included people such as Charles S. Dutton, Wendell Pierce, Keith David, Deroy Lindo, Kasi Lammons, Wesley Snipes, Joe Morton and, oh yes, some unknown by the name of Samuel L. Jackson.
Of course after Hawk went off the air, Brooks later became the lead on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for several seasons. But I still think A Man Called Hawk was his best role.
Since the show was produced by Warner TV, perhaps there’s a chance that the Warner Archive DVD-on-demand label, which has been releasing old Warner Bros TV shows from the 70’s and 80’s, will release a complete Hawk series multiple DVD set sometime soon. It would be fun just to revisit them again. Maybe we need Hawk more than ever now.
But at least here are the opening titles for the show: