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Remembering 'A Man Called Hawk' - The Coolest Brother On TV

by Sergio
October 17, 2012 2:47 AM
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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:

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  • Night Audit | June 3, 2014 3:00 AMReply

    Great review. Loved this show. It was highly underrated.

    I found a page for the tv series on Facebook. Check it out... pics, videos, info.

  • BARRY | January 5, 2014 7:48 PMReply

    I knew he was to strong a presence to ever last on t.v. America is not,still not ready for a strong black man that can not be bought,sold or traded. Feel sorry for all the children who have never had a chance to view this landmark series.

  • Nina | December 25, 2012 3:32 AMReply

    As I watch Roots, tonight on Christmas Eve 2012, I am reminded of how talented Avery Brooks IS. I had the pleasure of watching him from my childhood until my adult years. Seeing him on my big screen is quite an honor.

  • Adalberto McFarlane | October 22, 2012 12:57 PMReply

    Yes, "A Man Called Hawk" was a great series, but howabout "Fortune Dane" with Carl Weathers? It came out after his lead role from the action film, "Action Jackson". Why aren't these shows on DVD already?

  • Kate | October 21, 2012 12:55 PMReply

    I have been waiting and looking for Man Called Hawk since the show left. He is the first true gentleman of that genre and it was always a joy to see the program. I have a full season DVD comes out. Avery Brooks is cool.

  • Swank Tony | October 20, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    Hawk was a great character, Avery Brooks gave him richness, depth and mystique that is rarely found in TV characters. Dude was bad, I watched Spenser mainly for his quasi-cameo appearances. I don't remember all the actors who appeared on "A Man Called Hawk", but who knew at the time how they'd turn out? I'd love to grab the DVD set for this show and reminisce. Also, does anyone else recall Stanley Clarke being the creator of the theme song? And last question, what's Mr. Brooks up to these days?

  • Dankwa Brooks | October 18, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    I watched like the first three episodes when they were rebroadcast on TV One and they actually pretty decent. As I got older and definitely after I studied film in college a lot of shows from back then don't hold up, but this did. I would like to eventually see all thirteen to see how the series might have been.

    As a Trekker I might have checked out DS9 anyway, but Brooks (my cousin...ok no he's not) did do a great job as the Lead of an ensemble, a Captain no less, you needed a certain amount of gravitas to project that type of leadership.

  • kara | October 18, 2012 10:09 AMReply

    I first saw him on Spencer for hire.. was glad when he got a spin off... from it... he and robert urich made a great team... and I never missed an ep of either show... also the job he did on star trek ds9... was outstanding as well... I really wished they would have done a movie with the ds9 crew.. he's one hell of an actor..

  • vdub | October 18, 2012 4:00 AMReply

    OH how I LOVED this show. When I heard that Magic Johnson was launching a network, I started making a list of shows I would love to see. "Hawk" and Tim Reid's "Frank's Place" are at the top of my list.

  • Dirk | October 18, 2012 2:34 AMReply

    The tv series had Spenser as a little different than the books, but Spenser and Hawk were truly friends, and both would sacrifice their lives for the other, and did so on many ocassions. They were both warriors in their own ways, but brothers in arms. That is one of the things I liked most about the series; there was never any hesitation to help each other out when it was necessary, and both were always willing and ready to die if that is what it took to get the job done. Hawk is one of the best written and enigmatic fictional characters ever, and Avery Brooks did a great job bringing him to life.

  • sidney | October 18, 2012 12:48 AMReply

    I have all the shows on vhs, I use to tape them because I loved the show and I also loved spencer for hire because of Hawk. Would love to have them on DVD though.

  • slb | October 17, 2012 10:57 PMReply

    "Spensaaah!" Used to love this show as a kid. It was too bad it didn't last longer than 13 episodes. But Spenser and A Man Called Hawk made me a fan of Avery Brooks. You have no idea how excited I was when I learned he was cast as the lead in Deep Space Nine. A funny thing about Deep Space Nine was that Brooks didn't seem to really become comfortable with his character (Capt. Sisko) until he grew the "Hawk" goatee and shaved his head. Which happened around season 3.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | October 17, 2012 8:48 PMReply

    Avery is an all around great actor from TV and stage with an incredible voice and presence. He didn't need the spray on hairlline so many male actors wear today. Plucked and waxed eyebrows. These male actors today are way to metrosexual. Avery's voice alone held your attention. The gun he carried was the icing on the cake. I hope they do bring this do DVD one day. Ill definitely buy it.

  • srb199 | October 17, 2012 4:04 PMReply

    I don't know. He was pretty a pretty awesome captain in DS9, and stared down Jean-Luc Piccard without breaking a sweat. Hawk was the man though.

  • Jug | October 17, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    Now THIS is a show that should get remade

  • MoFo | December 25, 2012 4:51 PM

    Idris Elba could pull off playing Hawk. Check out his role as "Luther" on the BBC.

  • Jug | October 22, 2012 2:18 PM

    I also think this shouldn't be network. Not that it couldn't be good, its just that basic cable has more freedom to explore character & story while network is forced to deal with plot, which would hurt a character like Hawk. And IMO, he HAS to rock the Coogi sweaters or the deals off :-P

  • Jug | October 22, 2012 2:17 PM

    I was only half-joking. I'm not that cynical to believe that all of Hollywood would screw up EVERY project LOL. See, Hawk was not just a great character but a great concept for a show. It didn't find its footing (three guesses why & first two don't count), so the terrain is ripe for exploration. And there are a great many actors that could do Hawk, you just have to find them. They "found" Avery in the first place didn't they? Like he said, "I never thought of myself as the sidekick... I've never been the side of anything. I just assumed that I was equal." Spoken like a man who destroyed Othello LOL You look for that, you'll find your Hawk.

  • kara | October 18, 2012 11:06 AM

    I don't know about that... not anyone can play the role of Hawk..
    its one of those one of a kind roles that only org. actor can play..

  • Miles Ellison | October 17, 2012 9:00 PM

    No, it shouldn't. It would only get screwed up.

  • Jug | October 17, 2012 5:46 PM

    That intro is I'm watching Video Vibrations LOL

  • Jug | October 17, 2012 5:42 PM

    @Sergio Me, Damnit! LOL

  • sergio | October 17, 2012 4:53 PM

    No it can't. What actor could pull off that role today? They're all soft

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 17, 2012 11:08 AMReply

    SPEN-SAH!!! lol

  • getthesenets | October 17, 2012 11:00 AMReply

    not a man called hawk/
    but I ain't mr. softee/


  • ChgoSista | October 17, 2012 10:55 AMReply

    Man--my mother used to LOVE Avery Brooks!

  • LeonRaymond | October 17, 2012 9:43 AMReply

    That show was like seeing a Unicorn, you watched it and could even believe that it was on TV or got produced it was so superb. The actors looked like everyone came right out of the NEC (negro Ensemble Company) just superb talent and one of the few spin off's that was better than the show from whence it came. there was never any foot shuffling, bent over servitude characters, everyone was Black and you knew it and they were proud of it and took no stuff!!!

  • ROD | October 17, 2012 7:23 AMReply

    Remember it indeed. I still have all 13 episodes on VHS tape. Haven't had a chance to digitally capture/transfer them yet.

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