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David Rasche's unique combination of disciplined actor, good looking leading man as well as deft comedian were essential ingredients for "Sledge Hammer!" to fly. He also possessed indefinable buoyancy that made his character, a gun-worshipping sadist, oddly likable.
Equally important was the casting of Sledge Hammer's female partner, a no-nonsense policewoman who possessed the competency and compassion Hammer desperately lacked.
Serving as the show's equilibrium, Detective Dori Doreau's reactions served as barometers of how to feel about the title character. If she could forgive Hammer, an audience certainly could. Doreau was an island of sanity in a sea of madness.
Spencer had been a
longtime fan of actress Anne-Marie Martin, popular thanks to her portrayal
of attorney Gwen Davies on the daytime soap "Days of Our Lives",
but also noticed her inherent "wacky" side
some of her small screen guest shots.
Always on the verge of apoplexy, the part of Trunk was conceived without any particular ethnicity, so an unusually wide array of performers read for the part.
The celebrated actor Harrison Page commanded the role like no one else could, able to project an endless level of frustration and outrage, mixed with innate dignity, that was critical to sustaining the premise.
As bizarre as the milieu of "Sledge Hammer" would occasionally get, Page's Trunk remained a credible authority figure.
Acclaimed director Martha Coolidge agreeing to direct the "Sledge Hammer!" pilot elevated the profile of the project around Hollywood. Adept at both comedy and drama, Coolidge's arrival on the scene engendered immediate prestige.
A few months later, screenings of the finished "Sledge Hammer!" pilot would elicit the same response over and over: Riotous laughter.
odds, where traditional programming usually finds a berth, "Sledge
Hammer!" made ABC's fall schedule for the year 1986. (Coincidentally,
the year '86 was also the number of Maxwell Smart's inept secret agent.)
If you held me, all there'd be was contempt.