SHOOTING STARS (1983) Billy Dee Williams and Parker Stevenson play actors who play detectives who get fired and become detectives.

Shooting StarsTheme Song: A shitty big-band horn and bassoon ditty. It doesn’t have lyrics, but I suppose it counts as a theme song.

Interesting Dated References: Actors being super involved with the daily operations of the restaurants they own; Men who are stressed in the office squeezing those tension balls.

Best Line: Said by Billy Dee Williams in an angry, yet slowly enunciated way — “They broke my car, and they broke my friend’s face … I’m going to get ‘em.” It’s like he was supposed to swear but they opted to cut it out of the script.

Social Context: Be it in film or on television, people love watching two buddies team up to try to solve crime.  They prefer these duos to have lots of banter and comedic hijinks, but in the end they must put a stop to some type of crime for the greater good.

Summary: I’ll try to explain the opening scene and set-up as clearly as possible.  Billy Dee Williams and Parker Stevenson are actors Douglas Hawk and Bill O’Keefe, who are detectives on a hit television show.  The main star of that show, an older actor playing a police sergeant, decides he’s tired of Hawk and O’Keefe stealing all of his scenes and getting all the publicity, so he demands they be fired.  

On top of that, Hawk and O’Keefe also own a giant nautical-themed restaurant that is struggling to stay open.

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So O’Keefe figures since they were on a police show for 80-some episodes and know everything about crime, they should go into business as private investigators.  Lucky for them there’s a huge office inside their restaurant, which will operate as the headquarters for their investigative work.

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Almost immediately, they get their first client, Laura, who is looking for her missing, lotto-winning sister Nancy. Recognizing the men from the show, she’s a bit confused, but decides to hire them anyway.  In the parking lot of the restaurant, some guy with a flattop tries to run the three of them down with his car.  Hawk (Williams) is able to scare the guy off by firing his fake gun, which he stole from the show.

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After they drop Laura off at the Half Moon Hotel in Culver City (still open), they investigate Nancy’s last known address, which happens to be an apartment complex full of women in bikinis.

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The guys wander around interviewing women, which raises the suspicion of the landlord.  He promptly calls a mysterious, rich guy named McGee, and informs him that the out-of-work actors are nosing around about Nancy.  

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McGee, played by John Ryan (It’s Alive, Avenging Force), goes to a yacht with the flattop guy that tried to run everyone down and they both listen to old fat cat Woodrow Norton, who talks about Freedom Village, his big new suburban development.

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Back at Nantucket Light (their restaurant), our heroes sit around and talk about the case while staring at the picture of themselves they have on their desk.  Someone mysteriously calls with a tip about the case, and they go to investigate, only to end up in a high-speed chase/fist fight with McGee and flattop guy, who demand they “get out of the detective business!”

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The next day Laura shows up at the restaurant and reveals that Nancy is actually her husband’s mistress and the two had run off together.  She wants to find them, so she gives Hawk and O’Keefe keys to her house so they can try to dig up some dirt.

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When they get to the house, O’Keefe finds flattop guy inside burning papers in a small trash can, which he immediately hurls at O’Keefe.  Then flattop and Hawk tussle in the back yard before McGee and flattop make a getaway.  They find some suspicious unburned papers that reference toxic soil samples.

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Our investigative duo decides to check out the office of Laura’s husband, and when they get there, it is on fire.  With all this action going on, the guys decide to confront Laura on what her husband was up to.  She claims ignorance and tells some sob story about how her marriage was falling apart.

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Then she sobs some more and introduces her son Patrick, who she just found out was a really young David Faustino of Married With Children fame.  This makes O’Keefe feel badly about his estranged wife and child, so he decides to go pay them a visit.

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But while visiting, he realizes his daughter is actually a very young Tori Spelling, and so after hanging out for a bit, he decides it’s best he abandon his wife, daughter, and the entire subplot about  his family, and not bring them up again until the very end of the show.

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Meanwhile, McGee announces to Norton that he suspects the two private investigators may be on to them.  They know the PIs have their business papers, which show that Freedom Village is being built on land that is contaminated with toxic waste.

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Hawk and O’Keefe sit around their giant restaurant and reference Love Canal at least 15 times, then decide to break into the laboratory that did the soil tests, so they can look for more paperwork.  This leads to a showdown with McGee, who as it turns out, is a cop.  Our duo is forced into hiding with their stuntmen friends, who call in all sorts of favors to get them radio microphones and prop guns.

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They use the radio mics at the Freedom Village groundbreaking to trick Norton into admitting over a PA system that there is a lot of money at stake in the contaminated land.  Norton then tries to escape in a helicopter, which immediately crashes into a building.  McGee tries to act like he doesn’t know what’s going on and makes his escape.

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The end of the pilot leaves things open-ended.  Hawk and O’Keefe sit around on the beach, Hawk consoles David Faustino about his (assumedly) dead father, and O’Keefe (begrudgingly) acts like he’s excited his daughter is Tori Spelling.  Then McGee shows up and announces he will make sure they pay for what they’ve done, which, if Shooting Stars had been picked up, makes you assume McGee was going to be the main thorn in our duo’s side.

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It was not.  Yes, this was produced by Aaron Spelling, which explains the presence of Tori.

Poster and Box Art: Awesome colored pencil/air brush rendering.  Seriously, aside from Parker Stevenson’s somewhat enlarged hair, try to argue with it. I’m almost certain

Availability: Used VHS on eBay.

One comment

  • Loved the intro to the kids, very humorous. Awful plot to this…”buddy duo” film. Thank you for watching it so I never have to.

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