Night Heat is a Canadian police crime drama series that aired on both CTV in Canada and CBS in the United States. Original episodes were broadcast from 1985 to 1989.[1] Night Heat was the first Canadian original drama series that was also aired on a United States television network during its original broadcast.[2] It was also the first original, first-run drama series to be aired during a late night time slot on a television network in the United States.[3]

Night Heat
Night Heat title screen
GenrePolice procedural
Created by
Country of originCanada
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes96
Executive producers
Production locationsToronto, Ontario
Running time45 minutes approx.
Production companies
Original release
  • CTV (Canada)
  • CBS (United States)
ReleaseJanuary 31, 1985 (1985-01-31) –
January 5, 1989 (1989-01-05)

During its original run it was the highest-rated Canadian-produced original series in Canada.[4] The show won the Gemini Award for Best Drama Series in both 1986 and 1987.[2][5]

The show stars Scott Hylands and Jeff Wincott as police detectives Kevin O'Brien and Frank Giambone who work the graveyard shift in an unnamed northeastern North American metropolis.[6][7][8] The series follows their nightly police beat as it is chronicled by journalist Tom Kirkwood (Allan Royal) in his newspaper column titled "Night Heat".[3][9][10]



Allan Royal plays Tom Kirkwood, a journalist who writes a newspaper column titled "Night Heat" where he chronicles the nightly police beat of detectives Kevin O'Brien, played by Scott Hylands, and Frank Giambone, played by Jeff Wincott.[3][9] O'Brien is a tough, cynical, veteran police officer and Giambone is his younger, hot-tempered partner.[3][9][11][12] Kirkwood also serves as the show's narrator; his voice-over commentary starts and ends each episode, recapping the lessons learned and acting as a sort of Greek chorus.[3][13][14][15]

The name of the city in which the show takes place is never mentioned.[6][7][8] Each episode represents a single night's shift and, as a result, crimes often remain unresolved by the end of the show.[3][10]









Concept and development


Night Heat was conceived by Sonny Grosso, a former New York City Police Department detective.[3][10][16] Grosso served was the show's executive producer along with his partner, Larry Jacobson.[3][4]

Grosso had over 20 years experience in law enforcement, later working as a narcotics detective.[3][7][10][13] He and his former NYPD partner, Eddie Egan, were the detectives responsible for bringing an end to the infamous drug smuggling ring known as the French Connection.[10][16][17] Grosso served as technical adviser on the film based on the investigation.[3] He also worked as a consultant for the film The Godfather and as story editor for the TV series The Rockford Files, Kojak and Baretta.[3][18]

Grosso and Jacobson were originally approached by CBS to produce a docudrama series following actual police officers, but they considered the potential risk in filming people who had not yet been convicted of a crime and decided against it.[19] Grosso came up with the idea of creating a police series that would feature a realistic look at police work in a documentary style, similar to the 1950s/1960s police drama Naked City.[4][20] He wanted to depict the life of the everyday police officer, in contrast to the slicker, high-action, high-drama, yuppie-oriented police series of the time such as Miami Vice and Hill Street Blues.[3][13][14] The pilot episode was written by Don Flynn, a crime reporter with the New York Daily News.[7][21]


The cast of Night Heat. From left to right, Stephen Mendel, Sean McCann, Eugene A. Clark, Louise Vallance, Scott Hylands, Jeff Wincott, and Allan Royal.

Grosso and Jacobson decided to produce their show in Toronto, Canada, otherwise the production costs would have been too expensive for CBS's late-night budget.[7] At the time one could film in Toronto for less than half the cost of a major American city—Canadian union scale was lower and the American-to-Canadian dollar exchange rate was also favorable.[4][7][9] The show featured an all-Canadian cast and crew and was partially funded by the Government of Canada.[6][16][17] For Hylands, a 21-year veteran actor, frequently seen playing villains in U.S. TV shows during the 1970s and early 1980s, this was the first time he had been given a leading role, or the role of a "good guy."[12]

The series was shot entirely at night between the hours of 6pm and 4am, which also made it easier to film since there was less traffic and it was easier to close down streets.[4][22] The lower budget also meant that the show did not contain high speed car chases or shootouts with heavy calibre weapons.[2][4][13] As a result, the show was more reliant on story and dialogue to capture audiences.[2][4]

Night Heat was filmed on 16mm film using hand-held cameras, instead of the Hollywood-standard 35mm film, giving the series a grainy, documentary-style look.[10][17][23] Much of the show was shot at the site of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, which served as the series' police station;[3][16] described as a "grim and forbidding setting," the hospital fit in with the gritty look that the show's producer, Robert Lantos wanted.[3][24]

Filming a police drama aimed at both Canadian and American audiences in an unidentified city presented a unique set of challenges: The crew had to avoid capturing shots of landmarks and other objects that would give away that it was not an American city, such as Toronto Police cars, Esso stations and the CN Tower.[6][18] While much of the show's dialogue included American law-enforcement terminology (for example: they referred to police "precincts" instead of "divisions", and characters had ranks such as officers, detectives and lieutenants instead of constables, sergeants and inspectors), they avoided terms from the American criminal justice system such as "grand jury" or "district attorney".[2][6] In addition, the officers were never seen reading Miranda rights to suspects since there is no Miranda law in Canada.[18] The writers also made a concerted effort to avoid using words that Canadians have a distinctive way of pronouncing, such as the words "out" and "about".[6] Given Toronto's relative cleanliness when compared to larger American cities, the film crew would sometimes throw additional garbage onto the set during street scenes. Grosso, Hylands and Jacobson have all said in separate interviews that there was a time when the garbage that they had strewn about for a Night Heat shoot had been cleaned-up by city sanitation crews while the film crew was on break.[18][25][26]



Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
124January 31, 1985 (1985-01-31)January 9, 1986 (1986-01-09)
224January 30, 1986 (1986-01-30)January 15, 1987 (1987-01-15)
324February 5, 1987 (1987-02-05)January 7, 1988 (1988-01-07)
424January 14, 1988 (1988-01-14)January 5, 1989 (1989-01-05)

Season 1 (1985–86)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Crossfire"Gerald MayerEdward AdlerJanuary 31, 1985 (1985-01-31)

An elusive cop killer looking to avenge the death of his 7-year-old daughter may be gunning for Kevin and Lt. Hogan.

Note: First aired episode. A young Keanu Reeves and a young Cree Summer make appearances, as a television thief and a daughter of a cop, respectively.
22"Necessary Force"Mario AzzopardiWilliam LevinsonFebruary 7, 1985 (1985-02-07)
While chasing two criminals down an alley, Frank shoots one of them claiming he was holding a gun. But a search of the area turns up a flashlight.
33"Deadline"George KaczenderR.B. CarneyFebruary 14, 1985 (1985-02-14)
After a woman is raped inside her home, her unwillingness to identify her attacker stalemates the case.
44"The Stranger"René BonnièreIan SutherlandFebruary 21, 1985 (1985-02-21)
Continuing from "Deadline"; a very nervous woman (Jeannie Elias) walking in the park is afraid she might be the next rape victim. She runs away from an alleged attacker. The man (Chuck Shamata) is picked up and taken in for questioning. It was all just a misunderstanding and he is released, but when the woman is found murdered later that same night, the detectives are faced with proving the suspect guilty of multiple murder.
55"Obie's Law"George McCowanDon Flynn & Sonny Grosso (story), Philip Rosenberg (teleplay)February 28, 1985 (1985-02-28)
In the series' pilot, Detectives Kevin O'Brien and Frank Giambone go after the hood (Nicholas Campbell) who's supplying weapons for local holdups.
66"The Witness"Mario AzzopardiPhilip RosenbergMarch 7, 1985 (1985-03-07)
Continuing from "Obie's Law," Frank and Kevin try to protect a photographer (Matsu Anderson) who recorded a gangland killing.
77"Deadlock"Mario AzzopardiPhilip RosenbergMay 2, 1985 (1985-05-02)

While out on a date, Frank and Stevie catch a suspect involved in a robbery and discover he is wanted for murder as well; punk siblings lay siege to Mid-South and threaten to blow it up.

Note: First appearances of Det. Stevie Brody and Prosecutor Elaine Jeffers.
88"Ancient Madness"Al WaxmanStuart RosenbergMay 9, 1985 (1985-05-09)
Mid-South is assigned to protect an Irish terrorist who's the key witness in a gun-smuggling trial; after a philosophical clash with Kevin, the man is shot.
99"Velvet"René BonnièreR.B. CarneyMay 16, 1985 (1985-05-16)

After the lead singer of the punk rock group dies from a cocaine overdose, Kevin and Frank investigate the case as a murder; Frank later learns that an old girlfriend (Michele Scarabelli) is tied to the main suspect.

Note: First appearance of Det. Dave Jefferson.
1010"The Fifth Man"Mario AzzopardiIan SutherlandMay 23, 1985 (1985-05-23)
The Feds get involved in an investigation into two suspected suicides.
1111"Jane the Ripper"Mario AzzopardiTim Dunphy & Peter MohanSeptember 26, 1985 (1985-09-26)
The detectives search for a psychotic hooker (Jennifer Dale) responsible for a series of slasher murders.
1212"Dead to Rights"Mario AzzopardiStuart RosenbergOctober 3, 1985 (1985-10-03)
The grisly murders of a father and daughter point to the family's son.
1313"The Quest"George KaczenderPeter PalliserOctober 10, 1985 (1985-10-10)
Kevin tracks the drug dealer who wounded him and stole his revolver during a drug sting.
1414"Power Play"George KaczenderStuart RosenbergOctober 17, 1985 (1985-10-17)
The detectives probe an arson-murder involving an uninsured apartment house.
1515"The Game"George KaczenderTim Dunphy & Peter MohanOctober 24, 1985 (1985-10-24)

A poker game turns deadly.

Note: First appearance of Det. Christine Meadows.
1616"Mother's Day"Mario AzzopardiIan SutherlandOctober 31, 1985 (1985-10-31)
Nursing-home residents are being victimized by a scammer (Janet-Laine Green).
1717"Poison"Mario AzzopardiR.B. CarneyNovember 7, 1985 (1985-11-07)
While covering a union strike at a local plant, Tom is witness to a security guard being fatally stabbed.
1818"Snow White"Mario AzzopardiEdward AdlerNovember 14, 1985 (1985-11-14)
A mentally challenged girl witnesses a murder in the park.
1919"Secrets"René BonnièreRon BaseNovember 21, 1985 (1985-11-21)
A movie star's (Megan Trotter) comeback coincides with the murders of her confidants.
2020"Songbird"René BonnièreR.B. CarneyNovember 28, 1985 (1985-11-28)
The hunt for a priceless statue teams Kevin with an insurance investigator (Linda Sorenson) he once romanced.
2121"The Source"George KaczenderDon FlynnDecember 2, 1985 (1985-12-02)
The murder of his reporter-protégé (Carl Marotte) puts Tom on the hot seat.
2222"Innocents"Allan EastmanBruce MartinDecember 26, 1985 (1985-12-26)
A businessman abnormally interested in little girls (Robin Ward) may have the answers to a missing-children case.
2323"Fire and Ice"Mario AzzopardiStuart RosenbergJanuary 2, 1986 (1986-01-02)

Colby believes his brother (Philip Akin) may hold the key to a gem theft-murder case.

Note: Both Allan Royal (Tom Kirkwood) and Susan Hogan (Nicole) are absent in this episode, although the former's voice is still heard.
2424"Brotherhood"Mario AzzopardiIan SutherlandJanuary 9, 1986 (1986-01-09)
When the leading opposition candidate to head the nation's most powerful union (Mario DiIorio) is gunned down, the current corrupt president (Joe Spinell) is suspected.

Season 2 (1986–87)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
251"The Hero"René BonnièreR.B. CarneyJanuary 30, 1986 (1986-01-30)
262"Dead Ringer"Mario AzzopardiTim Dunphy & Peter MohanFebruary 6, 1986 (1986-02-06)
273"Neighbors"René BonnièreIan SutherlandFebruary 13, 1986 (1986-02-13)
284"Payday"Mario AzzopardiLionel E. SiegelFebruary 20, 1986 (1986-02-20)
295"The Legendary Eddie Shore"George MendelukWilliam DavidsonApril 17, 1986 (1986-04-17)
306"The Passenger"Mario AzzopardiIan SutherlandApril 24, 1986 (1986-04-24)
317"Moonlight"Mario AzzopardiTim Dunphy & Peter MohanMay 1, 1986 (1986-05-01)
328"The Fighter"Joseph L. ScanlanR.B. CarneyMay 15, 1986 (1986-05-15)
339"Showdown"Mario AzzopardiTim Dunphy & Peter MohanMay 22, 1986 (1986-05-22)
3410"Friends"George KaczenderPeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaJuly 30, 1986 (1986-07-30)
3511"Wages of Sin"Mario AzzopardiRoy SallowsSeptember 25, 1986 (1986-09-25)
3612"The Hit"Mario AzzopardiR.B. CarneyOctober 2, 1986 (1986-10-02)
3713"Trapped"René BonnièreGabrielle St. GeorgeOctober 9, 1986 (1986-10-09)
3814"Children of the Night"Jorge MontesiPeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaOctober 16, 1986 (1986-10-16)
3915"Pride and Prejudice"Allan EastmanBruce MartinOctober 23, 1986 (1986-10-23)
4016"Another Country"Mario AzzopardiStuart RosenbergOctober 30, 1986 (1986-10-30)
4117"Every Picture Tells a Story"René BonnièreBruce MartinNovember 6, 1986 (1986-11-06)
4218"Fighting Back"George MendelukWilliam DavidsonNovember 13, 1986 (1986-11-13)
4319"Bad Timing"Donald ShebibBruce MartinNovember 20, 1986 (1986-11-20)
4420"The Movement"George MendelukPeter MohanNovember 27, 1986 (1986-11-27)
4521"Body Conscious"Allan EastmanGabrielle St. GeorgeDecember 4, 1986 (1986-12-04)
4622"The Switch"Jorge MontesiLaurel L. Russwurm & Donald AyresJanuary 1, 1987 (1987-01-01)
4723"Masquerade"René BonnièreRob ForsythJanuary 8, 1987 (1987-01-08)
4824"The Beaumont Line"René BonnièreRob ForsythJanuary 15, 1987 (1987-01-15)

Season 3 (1987–88)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
491"Love You to Death"George MendelukGabrielle St. GeorgeFebruary 5, 1987 (1987-02-05)
502"Vantage Point"Donald ShebibPeter MohanFebruary 12, 1987 (1987-02-12)
513"Play the Game"Jorge MontesiPeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaFebruary 19, 1987 (1987-02-19)
524"Punk"René BonnièreIan SutherlandFebruary 19, 1987 (1987-02-19)
535"Beauty is as Beauty Does"Mario AzzopardiStuart RosenbergApril 30, 1987 (1987-04-30)
546"You're on the Air"René BonnièrePeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaMay 7, 1987 (1987-05-07)
557"And Baby Makes Grief"Donald ShebibStuart RosenbergMay 21, 1987 (1987-05-21)
568"All the King's Horses"René BonnièreStuart RosenbergAugust 4, 1987 (1987-08-04)
579"Grace"George MendelukRob ForsythAugust 11, 1987 (1987-08-11)
5810"The Kid"Mario AzzopardiR.B. CarneyAugust 18, 1987 (1987-08-18)
5911"Flashback"Martin DanielsR.B. CarneyAugust 25, 1987 (1987-08-25)
6012"Tell Me a Story"René BonnièreRob ForsythSeptember 1, 1987 (1987-09-01)
When a promiscuous young woman is assaulted and killed, detectives Giambone and O'Brien have a variety of suspects to choose from: the victim's half-witted brother, a writer turned martial arts cult leader (David Carradine), and one of his overeager followers. But it seems that life is literally imitating literary art.
6113"Comeback"Jorge MontesiPeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaSeptember 8, 1987 (1987-09-08)
6214"The Pimp"Mario AzzopardiR.B. CarneySeptember 24, 1987 (1987-09-24)
6315"Limo"Timothy BondLaurel L. Russwurm & Donald AyresOctober 1, 1987 (1987-10-01)
6416"Mean Business"Miklos LentePeter YurksaitisOctober 8, 1987 (1987-10-08)
6517"Tonight's News"George MendelukR.B. CarneyOctober 15, 1987 (1987-10-15)
6618"Simon Says"Jorge MontesiAllan Royal & Linda ShierOctober 22, 1987 (1987-10-22)
6719"The Victim"George MendelukIan SutherlandOctober 29, 1987 (1987-10-29)
6820"The Cost of Doing Business"Donald ShebibGiles BluntNovember 5, 1987 (1987-11-05)
6921"These Happy Golden Years"George MendelukRob ForsythNovember 12, 1987 (1987-11-12)
7022"The Wiseguy"Donald ShebibPeter MohanNovember 19, 1987 (1987-11-19)
7123"Freedom Dead"Jorge MontesiClive EndersbyNovember 26, 1987 (1987-11-26)
7224"Vengeance"Jorge MontesiBruce MartinJanuary 7, 1988 (1988-01-07)

Season 4 (1988–89)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
731"Silk"Timothy BondRob ForsythJanuary 14, 1988 (1988-01-14)
742"Chinatown"Jorge MontesiPeter PalliserJanuary 21, 1988 (1988-01-21)
753"Ain't No Cure for Love"Randy BradshawJeremy HoleFebruary 4, 1988 (1988-02-04)
764"Woof"Jorge MontesiIan SutherlandFebruary 11, 1988 (1988-02-11)
775"Whitey's Run"Miklos LentePeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaFebruary 18, 1988 (1988-02-18)
786"Blowing Bubbles"George MendelukRob ForsythFebruary 25, 1988 (1988-02-25)
797"None Shall Sleep"Jorge MontesiGerry DavisApril 21, 1988 (1988-04-21)
808"Forgive Me Father"George KaczenderGabrielle St. GeorgeApril 28, 1988 (1988-04-28)
819"The Better Part of Valor"Jorge MontesiPeter MohanMay 5, 1988 (1988-05-05)
8210"The Privilege of Freedom"Clay BorrisGlenn NormanMay 12, 1988 (1988-05-12)
8311"Set for Life"Jorge MontesiRob ForsythMay 19, 1988 (1988-05-19)
8412"Bogota Blues"Jorge MontesiJorge Montesi & Peter HaynesSeptember 22, 1988 (1988-09-22)
8513"Bless Me Father"George MendelukGeorge MendelukSeptember 29, 1988 (1988-09-29)
8614"The Mercenary"Donald ShebibIan SutherlandOctober 6, 1988 (1988-10-06)
8715"False Witness"George MendelukChris HaddockOctober 13, 1988 (1988-10-13)
8816"Archie's Riff"Randy BradshawJeremy HoleOctober 20, 1988 (1988-10-20)
8917"Goodbodies"Jorge MontesiPeter Lauterman & Angelo SteaOctober 27, 1988 (1988-10-27)
9018"Ice"Jorge MontesiPeter MohanNovember 3, 1988 (1988-11-03)
9119"Jumper"Miklos LenteR.B. CarneyNovember 10, 1988 (1988-11-10)
9220"The Professional"Scott HylandsTim DunphyNovember 17, 1988 (1988-11-17)
9321"The Wrong Woman"Jorge MontesiIan AdamsNovember 24, 1988 (1988-11-24)
9422"No Regrets"Gilbert M. ShiltonPeter Mohan, Chris Haddock and Jeremy HoleDecember 1, 1988 (1988-12-01)
9523"Elaine"René BonnièreJeff KingDecember 29, 1988 (1988-12-29)
9624"Blues in a Bottle"Mario AzzopardiPeter Mohan, Chris Haddock and Jeremy HoleJanuary 5, 1989 (1989-01-05)



CBS aired Night Heat as part of CBS Late Night, a late-night block of drama programming.[3][6] It marked the first time in 20 years that CBS had slotted a first-run series against The Tonight Show.[21] For six weeks in the summer of 1987 CBS moved the show to a 9pm slot, making it the first time that a Canadian drama series was shown on a major US network in prime time since Encounter, a short-lived ABC anthology series broadcast live out of the CBC's Toronto studios in the fall of 1958.[2][16][27][28]

In late 1988, CBS announced it had officially canceled Night Heat.[29] In spite of the show's popularity, CBS decided that it could get even better ratings in the late-night timeslot with The Pat Sajak Show, a talk show fronted by Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak.[2] Over a fourth of CBS's affiliates expressed more interest in running the Sajak program than continuing to run Night Heat and the last episode aired on CBS in January 1989 even though CTV still had a full season on film that had yet to be aired.[29][30]

After the series was canceled, reruns continued to air on CBS for another two years, and on Canadian television well into the early 2000s.[31]





Night Heat received good ratings for CBS; the show drew an average of 20% of TV viewers in its timeslot[2] and at times the show even outperformed NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in such markets as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.[7][9][32]

In Canada Night Heat attracted a million viewers a week.[2] Critics in Canada were generally enthusiastic about Night Heat and were proud of the fact that it was being shown on American television.[33] Critics such as Rick Salutin of The Globe and Mail expressed disappointment that the show hid or downplayed the fact that it was Canadian in order to appeal to US audiences: "they never say it's Toronto. It's just the city."[34]



Night Heat won the award for Best Drama Series at the 1986 Gemini Awards.[35][36] At the 1987 Gemini Awards the series again won the award for Best Drama Series, actor Eugene Clark won the award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor and writer Bob Carney won the award for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series for the episode titled "The Hit".[5][37] Night Heat also won the 1987 Gemini award in the category of TV Guide's Most Popular Program, an award based on ballots submitted by the magazine's readers in Canada.[5]

At the 1988 Gemini Awards writers Tim Dunphy and Peter Mohan won the award for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series and Night Heat again won TV Guide's Most Popular Program award.[38][39] In 1989 the series writer Chris Haddock won the Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series for the episode titled "False Witness".[40]


  1. ^ "Jump Street Fans Should Book a Night for Richard Grieco". Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, Canada. September 1, 1989. p. TV3.
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  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Brown, Barry (August 1, 1987). "Tidy Toronto Yields Gritty 'Night Heat'". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Baker, Kathryn (August 4, 1987). "'Night Heat' gets prime-time shot". Eau Claire Leader Telegram. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Associated Press. p. 7B. Retrieved October 20, 2018 – via
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  11. ^ Hughes, Mike (August 4, 1987). "Prime-time 'Night Heat' episodes retain late-night flavor". Courier-Post. Camden, New Jersey. Gannett News Service. p. 6D. Retrieved October 20, 2018 – via
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  17. ^ a b c Brown, Barry (August 1, 1987). "Tidy Toronto Yields Gritty 'Night Heat'". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
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  20. ^ Prentice, Bill (January 26, 1985). "Night Heat a Landmark Production". The Globe & Mail. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  21. ^ a b Gardella, Kay (January 31, 1985). "CBS tries to put heat on 'Tonight'". Daily News. New York, New York. p. 91. Retrieved October 20, 2018 – via
  22. ^ Elie, Paul (July 31, 1987). "'Adderly,' 'Night Heat' make move to primetime". Huntingdon Daily News. Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. p. 16. Retrieved October 20, 2018 – via
  23. ^ Atherton, Tony (December 4, 2002). "The Canadian connection". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. p. E1. Retrieved October 20, 2018 – via
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