Ohara (1987 detective show starring Pat Morita)

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Since starting this blog over three years ago, I have slowly begun to immerse myself in the detective show genre. For over a year now, I have been building and expanding the TV Detective Database section of the website, and more recently I have been uploading videos to my YouTube channel of older shows that are either in the public domain, or that have never been released on home media and are thus otherwise inaccessible.

One consequence of this is that I have learned so much about obscure and short-lived detective shows that few people remember. One such show premiered in January 1987 and starred Pat Morita (of The Karate Kid fame) as a Los Angeles-based police lieutenant named Ohara.

Full page TV Guide ad advertising the premiere of Ohara.
TV Guide blurb for the pilot episode of Ohara.

Pat Morita not only starred in the show, he also helped create it. But while Ohara was revolutionary for being one of the first shows to star an Asian American, it failed to resonate with audiences. During its quite short time on air (a total of 30 episodes of the show were produced — 11 in the first season and 19 in the second season), the show underwent several cast and format changes.

The cast of Ohara from the first half of Season 1.

In addition to Pat Morita, the relatively large initial cast of the show included (from left to right according to the above photograph):

  • Catherine Keener as Lt. Cricket Sideris
  • Richard Yniguez as Det. Jesse Guerrera
  • Jack Wallace as Sgt. Phil O’Brien
  • Kevin Conroy as Capt. Lloyd Hamilton
  • and (not pictured) Madge Sinclair as Gussie Lemmons

After just seven episodes, Kevin Conroy left the show and his character was replaced with Jon Polito, who played the new commanding officer — Capt. Ross — until the end of Season 1.

Season 2 started with a new cast and a revamped opening intro (complete with a brand new theme song). This time, the recurring cast was much smaller, and only three people were listed in the opening credits:

  • Robert Clohessy as Lt. George Shaver
  • Rachel Ticotin as Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Storm
  • Megan Fey as Roxy

By episode 14 of Season 2, the opening theme song changed again and the recurring cast was made even smaller as the show decided to focus on Ohara and his partner Shaver leaving the force to become private detectives.

Publicity photo of Pat Morita and Robert Clohessy from Season 2 of Ohara.

After debuting on January 17th 1987, the show was ultimately cancelled on May 7th 1988.

As with many shows that didn’t last beyond one or two seasons, Ohara was never released on home media (to my knowledge). In some cases, VHS recordings of the original TV broadcast may exist and have been digitized. That is the case with the majority of episodes of Ohara, where only the very first and the very last episode of the series appears to be lost.

In the meantime, I have uploaded the remaining episodes of Season 1 to my YouTube channel, and am in the process of uploading the remaining episodes of Season 2 over the next few weeks. You can watch the episodes I have uploaded so far by clicking on the following the link to my Ohara YouTube playlist. Be forewarned though that because they were digitized off old VHS recordings, they are of varying quality.

My hope is that eventually someone out there will come forward with better quality recordings and the remaining episodes, or that perhaps I may one day have the resources to enhance the recordings we already have to make them more enjoyable. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little bit of TV detective history.

P.S. In researching this series, I learned that soon after Ohara was cancelled, Pat Morita went on to play a cop opposite Jay Leno in a 1989 movie titled Collision Course (which was only released in Germany, until finally being released straight-to-video in the US in 1992)! You might be able get your hands on it on Amazon.


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