Friends, do any of you possibly remember that NBC back on April 10th of 1983 premiered a new television series based on the classic Casablanca from ’42? I personally have no recollection back in the day of this Casablanca series – short lived that it was – and I suppose I never would have if hadn’t stumbled across a promo ad on YouTube earlier this morning.

Video Provided by Sean Mc.

The first thing I noticed on seeing that NBC promo was they chose David Soul – perhaps best known as Detective Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson from the popular Starsky & Hutch TV show to play the part of Rick Blaine – portrayed by Humphry Bogart in the 1942 film. In all honesty while I grew up watching Starsky & Hutch with my Father, being a Monster Kid I can’t help but always think of Soul as Ben Mears in the exceptional and still unnerving 1979 Salem’s Lot TV mini-series.

There were only five episodes produced for Casablanca which makes me think it was in fact intended as a mid-season replacement for NBC. The show was broadcast for three Sundays in a row before the Network pulled it due to what must have been low ratings – with the remaining two episodes aired on Saturday night of August 27th and September 3rd of ’83.

Casablanca the series acted as a prequel to the film – although taking place only a year before the events from the classic movie as I understand it. As has been pointed out online some of the elements of the 1942 feature film have been tweaked – such as Rick already having dealings with Maj. Heinrich Strasser (Patrick Horgan). What really impresses me is the amount of talent they assembled for the series – not just David Soul but the likes of Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman), Arthur Malet (Halloween), Kai Wulff ( ┬íThree Amigos!), and of course Scatman Crothers (The Shining) as Sam.

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In closing of this article I have to add that this attempt in 1983 was actually the second attempt to create a television show from the 1942 classic film – in ’55 it was ABC that brought Casablanca to the small screen as part of Warner Bros. Presents – a series that rotated each week between Cheyenne, King’s Row and of course Casablanca. This Casablanca at least lasted for ten episodes and featured Charles McGraw (The Killers) as Rick – in addition the themes of the series were altered from the film’s World War II setting to one focusing on the Cold War.

I would be very interested to read in the comments if you watched Casablanca back in ’83 or possibly even checked it out on DVD.

Published by Vic Sage

An avid devotee to pretty much all things pop culture and retro related - I love to share my memories and passion for films, comics, gaming, podcasting... and curiously enough my overwhelming desire to never stop eating beef jerky.

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