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Veronica Clare is an American crime drama, created by Jeffrey Bloom, which originally aired for one season on Lifetime beginning on July 23, 1991, to September 17, 1991. Played by Laura Robinson, the eponymous Clare is a private investigator and part-owner of a Chinatown jazz club, who uses intelligence rather than physical strength to solve cases. The supporting cast includes Robert Beltran, Tony Plana, Christina Pickles, Robert Ruth, Robert Sutton, and Wayne Chou. Gil Mellé composed the show's soundtrack. The show was developed as one of three television programs ordered by Lifetime in 1991. It was one of the network's first scripted programs following its successful acquisition of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd from NBC.

Veronica Clare
A black-and-white image of a woman against a postcard-style image of a cityscape. There is text saying Veronica Clare.
Title card
GenreCrime drama
Created byJeffrey Bloom
Starring
Theme music composerGil Mellé
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes9 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Jeffrey Bloom
Production location(s)Los Angeles, California
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Hearst Entertainment, Inc
Release
Original networkLifetime
Picture format480i/576i (4:3 SDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseJuly 23 –
September 17, 1991

After nine episodes had aired, the network placed the show on hiatus before it was eventually canceled. It has never been released on DVD or Blu-ray, or made available on online-streaming services. The episodes were rebroadcast as four television movies in 1991 and 1992. Critical response to Veronica Clare was mixed, with commentators divided over its style. The series attracted feminist analysis, with a focus on Clare's identity as a female private investigator. Critics have compared Robinson to other actresses including Kathleen Turner and Lauren Bacall, and Clare to other fictional female detectives like V.I. Warshawski.

Contents

Premise and charactersEdit

Described as a "moody noir detective drama" by the Sun-Sentinel,[1] Veronica Clare revolves around the titular character (Laura Robinson) and her work as a private investigator and a partial owner of a Chinatown jazz club.[2][3] Mass communication professor Eileen R. Meehan and media studies professor Jackie Byars identified the show as an example of a soft-boiled detective series.[4] Told from Clare's perspective,[5][6] the mysteries showcase how she uses her intelligence to solve cases.[5] Characterized as "not physically tough, but merely determined",[7] Clare avoids using guns, and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, instead relying on her intellect to solve cases.[5] She has no interest in being paid for her investigations,[8] and instead only takes on cases that interest her.[9] Clare serves as the narrator for each episode.[5]

Her business partner Duke Rado (Robert Beltran), and Los Angeles Police Department officer Nikki Swarcek (Tony Plana) assist Clare.[2] Rado, the show's male lead, is not presented as Clare's love interest or as a "source of wisdom and authorization for her".[5] Swarcek, an expatriate from Poland, carries an unrequited love for Clare.[2][3] In several episodes, Clare is shown writing letters to an unidentified lover whose gender is never revealed.[5] Had the show had continued, the audience would have learned more about Clare's past.[9] While absent from the pilot episode, Clare's friend Kelsey Horne (Christina Pickles) features in its later storylines.[2] She works for a rare bookstore.[3] Other cast members include Sergeant Swede (Robert Ruth), Rocko the bartender (Robert Sutton), and Jimmy (Wayne Chou).[9][10]

ProductionEdit

Following the successful acquisition of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd from NBC, Lifetime went through an "emergent period" in which it began to develop original television dramas.[4] Veronica Clare was created by Jeffrey Bloom,[11] and produced by Hearst Entertainment, Inc.[12] It was one of three scripted programs ordered by Lifetime in 1991; the other two were The Hidden Room and Confessions of Crime.[13] Each of the shows feature elements of mystery or suspense.[14]

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Howard Rosenberg described the programs' development as Lifetime's "most ambitious effort to date".[8] After picking up Veronica Clare for 13 episodes,[15] Lifetime marketed the show toward women.[1][13] This followed the network's tradition of acquiring shows depicting female characters in traditionally male occupations; other examples include a female police officer in Lady Blue, a female physician in Kay O'Brien, and a female private detective in Partners in Crime.[16]

Even though the series is set in a contemporary period in Los Angeles,[3][10] a writer for The Item felt that it had a "period feel" reminiscent of the 1940s and the 1980s.[3] Shay Austin contributed to the series as its production designer.[11] Each episode features camera techniques similar to those used in film noir, and has a score composed by American jazz musician Gil Mellé.[3]

EpisodesEdit

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Veronica's Aunt"Jeffrey BloomJeffrey BloomJuly 23, 1991 (1991-07-23)
Veronica is hired to help her aunt who has been threatened by her recently deceased husband's mob employers.
2"Reed"Mark CullinghamJeffrey BloomJuly 30, 1991 (1991-07-30)
Veronica tries to solve a mystery involving one of Duke's close friends.
3"Anonymous"Rafal ZielinskiJeffrey BloomAugust 6, 1991 (1991-08-06)
When an amnesiac Romanian woman is found severely beaten, Veronica tries to help her remember her past to locate the attacker.
4"The Boxing Story"Leon IchasoJeffrey Bloom and Frank MegnaAugust 13, 1991 (1991-08-13)
Veronica is approached by a female boxing manager to determine why her most popular boxer decided to abandon his career.
5"Phoebe"Fred KellerJeffrey BloomAugust 20, 1991 (1991-08-20)
A woman hires Veronica to find her missing husband.
6"Slow Violence"Deborah DaltonNancy BondAugust 27, 1991 (1991-08-27)
A singer at the club pushes Veronica to babysit her child, and then suddenly disappears.
7"Mr. Duvall"Fred KellerJane AtkinsSeptember 3, 1991 (1991-09-03)
Veronica is tasked to locate a wealthy man's missing wife.
8"Love, Amanda"Amy GoldsteinNina ShengoldSeptember 10, 1991 (1991-09-10)
Veronica tries to discover what is behind a young girl's murder by piecing together clues from her diary.
9"Pilot"Donna DeitchJeffrey BloomSeptember 17, 1991 (1991-09-17)
Veronica is assigned to find a man's brooch, which is believed to have been stolen by his son.

Broadcast historyEdit

Veronica Clare was broadcast initially on Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm EST,[1] and aired directly after The Hidden Room and Confessions of a Crime.[13] Reruns aired on Saturdays at 11:00 pm EST.[15] Despite delivering "pretty respectable" ratings, the show was placed on hiatus on September 24, 1991,[1] after nine episodes had aired.[1][17] Veronica Clare, along with The Hidden Room and Confessions of a Crime, had lower ratings than original films produced by the network.[18]

Network spokesperson Alex Wagner attributed the decision to pull the series from air to issues with its production; he explained: "We`re shutting down to address creative concerns, with the idea of rewriting." A writer from the Sun-Sentinel found this surprising given that television shows aimed at a niche market were often not required to deliver immediate high ratings in comparison to network television.[1] Lifetime canceled the series during its hiatus.[14] Media studies scholar Eithne Johnson claimed that the network reached this decision due to its "ambivalence about its 'feminine identity' during prime time".[14] The series has never been made available on DVD or Blu-ray, nor released on an online-streaming service.[19]

In 1991 and 1992, the nine episodes were converted into four television movies and aired on television. The titles of the films were Affairs with Death, Deadly Minds, Naked Hearts, and Slow Violence; they can be requested through the Library of Congress as video reels.[12][20][21][22]

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

Veronica Clare has received mixed critical feedback. David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun praised it as the network's only successful scripted program. Reviewing the first episode, he described the series as having a "contemporary sensibility with plenty of retro-classic-P.I. atmosphere".[13] The Washington Post's Patricia Brennan called the show a stylish one-hour mystery series.[2] Ginny Holbert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the show's style and its actors' performances.[23]

Other critics were more negative. Giving the series a C-, David Hiltbrand of People was critical of the storylines' believability, describing the show's style as "murky and contrived". He also criticized Robinson's performance for its "vacuity".[24] Howard Rosenberg initially praised the pilot as an indication of a "stylishly mounted, Chandleresque-style series", but panned subsequent episodes. He felt that the storylines bordered on a parody in the style of the 1991 film The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, and did not match the "subtlety and a charming playfulness" of the series' premiere.[8] The Orlando Sentinel's Nancy Pete criticized Veronica Clare as "well-intentioned but ludicrous",[25] and a reviewer from Variety responded negatively to the pilot's script, writing that "atmosphere goes only so far".[11]

Critical analysisEdit

 
Clare was compared to Lauren Bacall (pictured in 1945) by critics.[3][9][11]

Following its premiere, Veronica Clare was described as an example of the rise of lead female characters in mysteries and crime dramas in film and television.[8][13][25] Zurawik felt the show's success and impact "could be a culturally important one", identifying its focus on a female private investigator as fitting with the "boom of women writing and starring in mystery fiction".[13] Expressing a similar sentiment, Hiltbrand found the series to be a continuation of "the season for female private eyes".[24] Rosenberg felt that "beyond male biases among network programmers", there was no reason for female detectives to be treated as a "TV curiosity".[8]

Clare has been compared to other fictional female detectives, and Robinson to noted actresses. Hiltbrand likened Clare to Kathleen Turner's leading role in the 1991 film V.I. Warshawski, and felt that Robinson was attempting a "mysterious Samantha Spade style".[24] A writer for The Item called the character a "cross between the Lauren Bacall of the '40s and the Kathleen Turner of the '80's", noting intelligence and sexuality as her primary characteristics.[3] Television historians Tim Brooks and Earle F. Marsh pointed to Clare's "long flowing hair and reserved demeanor" as her notable character traits, which recalled Bacall and the Andrews Sisters.[9] In a negative review of the character, Rosenberg wrote that Clare was "a poached egg compared to the hard-boiled gumshoe of Sara Paretsky's detective stories" featuring V. I. Warshawski.[8]

Critics have analyzed Clare's identity as a female detective. Political theorist Philip Green argued the show portrayed Clare as beautiful to accentuate her "masculine toughness" and avoid presenting her as a "fetishized male in disguise".[5][26] Green wrote that Clare's appearance was kept separate from "pure feminized sexuality" and her skills differed from "hypermasculine aggression". He interpreted Clare's role as the narrator as allowing her to never become the object of voyeurism or the male gaze.[5] Gender and women's studies scholar Susan White noted that Veronica Clare's fashion and scenic design played a major role in its identity as a female-driven detective show. White argued that the "postmodern surplus of feminine details works in tension with the codes of the hardboiled narrative and style".[27]

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "`Veronica Clare` Being Pulled From Lifetime". Sun-Sentinel. September 1, 1991. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Brennan, Patricia (July 21, 1991). "Lifetime Premieres Three Original Series Tuesday". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "'Veronica Clare' premieres tonight on Lifetime". The Item. July 21, 1991. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Meehan & Byars (2004): p. 95
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Green (1998): pp. 164-165
  6. ^ Green (1998): p. 164
  7. ^ Green (1998): p. 240
  8. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, Howard (July 23, 1991). "A Crime Package That Doesn't Pay Off". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e Brooks & Marsh (2009): p. 794
  10. ^ a b Terrace (2008): pp. 1139-1140
  11. ^ a b c d "Veronica Clare". Variety. July 29, 1991. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Veronica Clare. Affairs with death". Library of Congress. 1992. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Zurawik, David (July 23, 1991). "'Veronica Clare' stands out among new Lifetime series". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Newman & Witsell (2016): p. 10
  15. ^ a b Endrst, James. "`Confessions Of Crime' Opens Lineup". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Dines & Humez (2003): p. 620
  17. ^ Mizejewski (2004): p. 208
  18. ^ Lotz (2010): p. 188
  19. ^ "Veronica Clare (1991)". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013.
  20. ^ "Veronica Clare. Deadly minds". Library of Congress. 1992. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017.
  21. ^ "Veronica Clare. Veronica Clare". Library of Congress. 1991. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017.
  22. ^ "Veronica Clare. Slow violence". Library of Congress. 1991. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017.
  23. ^ Holbert, Ginny (July 23, 1991). "Lifetime goes crime-time // Cable programs explore violence, lust and romance". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. (subscription required)
  24. ^ a b c Hiltbrand, David (August 5, 1991). "Picks and Pans Review: Veronica Clare". People. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017.
  25. ^ a b Pate, Nancy (August 11, 1991). "This Summer, Women Sleuths Are On The Case". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017.
  26. ^ Green (1998): p. 241
  27. ^ Mizejewski (2004): p. 199

Book sourcesEdit

  • Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. New York: Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  • Dines, Gail; Humez, Jean M. (2003). Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Thousand Oaks: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-2260-1.
  • Green, Phillip (1998). Cracks in the Pedestal: Ideology and Gender in Hollywood. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1-55849-119-8.
  • Lotz, Amanda D. (2010). Redesigning Women: Television after the Network Era. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-03067-3.
  • Meehan, Eileen R.; Byars, Jackie (2004). "Telefeminism: How Lifetime got It's Groove, 1984-1997". In Allen, Robert Clyde; Hill, Annette (eds.). The Television Studies Reader. New York: Psychology Press. pp. 92–104. ISBN 0-415-28323-X.
  • Mizejewski, Linda (2004). Hardboiled and High Heeled: The Woman Detective in Popular Culture. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-96970-0.
  • Newman, Emily L.; Witsell, Emily (2016). "Introduction". The Lifetime Network: Essays on "Television for Women" in the 21st Century. Jefferson: McFarland. pp. 1–20. ISBN 978-0-7864-9830-7.
  • Terrace, Vincent (2008). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. Jefferson: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.

External linksEdit