Starring: Avery Brooks, Angela Bassett, Novella Nelson and Moses Gunn
Rated: Not Rated Drama, Action
A Man Called Hawk is centered upon the lead character who simply goes by the name of “Hawk” (Avery Brooks). A handsome, powerful and spiritual African-American man, he is wise, disciplined and cultured. He practices martial arts as well as boxing, performs on the vibraphone and plays chess with his mentor, Old Man (Moses Gunn).
His home is decorated beautifully, resplendent with luxurious décor, literature by African-Americans, portraits of Blacks and African art. Driving an ebony BMW 635CSi, Hawk is always stylishly-dressed, wearing attire of exotic hides, rare furs and vibrant African textiles. His accessories include his kufis emblazoned with Kente cloth, scarfs of Bambara mud cloth and a silver, long-barreled Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver.
While he is deeply respected by many, especially those in the underworld of crime and corruption, it is still a mystery on what specifically he does for a living.
However, what is certain is that he believes in administering justice. Accepting that its application is often not fair or equal, Hawk understands that justice is essential to balance in a person’s life … and he is more than willing to provide it for the right people in the right manner at the right time, regardless of cost!
The series is set in Washington, D.C., the home of Hawk. He has recently returned, having lived in Boston, Massachusetts for a number of years. There, he worked as a private enforcer but is evidently so much more. He is great friends with Spenser, a White private investigator.
He is welcomed back by many in his beloved urban community, including Bailey Webster (Angela Bassett) and her mother, Mrs. Webster (Novella Nelson). Family friends since they were children, Hawk was the object of Bailey’s girlhood crush. Now a professional, working within the local school system, Bailey asks for Hawk’s assistance with a student. Before long, Bailey is going to need Hawk’s protection when personal issues go terribly awry.
Over the series, Hawk will continue to be a superior force to be reckoned with when he encounters wrongs against those who need his aid!
Only airing one season, A Man Called Hawk, premiered on ABC. A spin-off from the network’s hit series, Spenser for Hire (1985-1988), the Hawk character is sourced from the best-selling mystery novel Spenser series by Robert B. Parker. Hawk first appeared in Promised Land (1976), the series’ fourth novel.
Although the show was cancelled after one season, it has gained a cult following for several reasons. One is because it presented an intelligent, strong and proud African-American man who operated within his own ethics. Also, Hawk was immensely proud of his Black cultural heritage. Another is that he, clearly of economic means, was still of his community. A final reason it is so beloved is because it featured many now-successful Black actors in the early stages of their career. These stars include Bassett, Keith David, Suzzanne Douglass, Charles S. Dutton, Samuel L. Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Joe Morton, Wendell Pierce, Wesley Snipes and Lorraine Toussaint. A Man Called Hawk also starred legendary African-American actors such as Olivia Cole, Frances Foster, Earl Hyman, Roscoe Orman and Joe Seneca.
After cancellation of the series, the incredible Avery Brooks would reprise his groundbreaking role as Hawk in four television films in the Spenser for Hire series. They are Spenser: Ceremony (1993); Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes (1994); Spenser: The Judas Goat (1994), and Spenser: A Savage Place (1995).
The theme series of A Man Called Hawk was created by Brooks and celebrated jazz legends, Stanley Clarke and Lawrence “Butch” Morris. Morris also wrote and performed music played in scenes of the series.
Brooks, the first African American to receive an MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers University, is a formally trained singer and descends from a family involved with music. In “Avery Brooks: Not Just Another Pretty Face” by Martha Southgate for Essence, Brooks shared, “Music is all around me and in me, as I am in it.” His mother, Eva (nee Crawford) Brooks, was one of the first African-American women to earn a Master of Arts degree in music from Northwestern University and his father, Samuel Brooks, was a member of the Wings over Jordan Choir, which performed on CBS radio from 1937 to 1947. His mother’s father, Samuel Travis Crawford, Sr. was a singer and her brother, Samuel Travis Crawford, Jr., was a member of the Delta Rhythm Boys.