LA Heat is an action series created by Joseph Merhi and Richard Pepin of PM Entertainment, Inc. The show revolves around two LAPD detectives.
The series began filming in 1996 in Southern California, in locations that included Los Angeles (also Long Beach, Beverly Hills and Hollywood) and San Diego. However, because it didn't have the backing of a major US network, it was not picked up for domestic distribution. Instead it was sold overseas, and it became popular in Europe. Due to PM Entertainment's financial troubles, the production ended in 1998 after two seasons (and 48 episodes). On March 15, 1999, the show finally made its US premiere when it was sold to TNT cable network. The episodes were shown on weekdays at 6 PM, and its first run concluded on May 19, 1999. When TNT's contract to run the show expired, the show disappeared from the airwaves and has not aired on US TV ever since.
- Chester "Chase" McDonald (Wolf Larson) has been on the force for 7 years. A risk-taker, he likes living on the edge and is passionate about his work. When he's not busy keeping LA safe, he makes metal sculptures which he shows at a local art gallery. Though he's a born leader, he often needs the guidance of someone with his partner's experience to keep him out of trouble. That partner is...
- ...August Brooks (Steven Williams), a Vietnam War veteran who has been on the force for 16 years. In his youth he was a promising boxer, but after discovering that his manager and promoter were embezzling funds from fellow boxers, and forced him to throw his first pro fight, he quit and joined the police force. Outside that, he runs the Hoover Street Youth Boxing Center for underprivileged children in an effort to try to keep them out of gangs.
Also prominently featured were their girlfriends:
- August is Happily Married to Kendra Lee Brooks (Renee Tenison) for five years in the pilot episode. She works at August's youth center, and is known by all the kids who frequent it, and she helps them with their problems from time to time.
- Chase's first girlfriend was Jodi (Dawn Radenbaugh-Eason). At the start of the series, they have been dating for a year. She worked at an art gallery where Chase's metal sculptures were displayed. Having never been happy with Chase's dangerous job, she constantly tried to pressure him to quit his job and focus exclusively on his sculpting. In Episode 19, she got a job offer to run an art gallery in Dallas and pressured him even more to quit his job and come with her. Chase refused, insisting they could work things out, but ultimately, she left without him.
The franchise provides examples of:
- Arc Villain and Overarching Villain: Bobby Cole in Season 2.
- Bloodless Carnage: So much so that its violence is so similar to their other movie efforts such as Rage (which, ironically, was its eighth episode in the series).
- Bolivian Army Cliffhanger and Left Hanging: The final episode, with Chase being wounded after a stand-off with crime lord Bobby Cole.
- A third season was planned for 2000, possibly implying he was intended to survive.
- Cool Car: The cars driven by Chase: Acura/Honda NSX and Porsche 911 (993) Carrera Cabrio. Even a one-off Bizzarini BZ-2001(provided by Watkins Properties) in the pilot episode Daybomber, and it's featured in the poster above.
- Cut Short: The filming ended in 1998 after two seasons were filmed due to financial troubles within PM Entertainment.
- In Fall 2000, a third season was intended to start filming. However, because financing couldn't be secured, the season was never made. PM Entertainment itself went bankrupt in 2002 and the show's creators went on their own.
- Da Chief: Captain Robert Jensen, played by Kenneth Tigar.
- Fake Shemp: Detective Nicole Stockman was played by Sandra Ferguson during her first three appearances, but because Ferguson had booked a soap opera before she could be booked by LA Heat producers, in her fourth (and last) appearance she was played by Jillian McWhirter.
- Fanservice: Episode 4, Night Becomes Electra, is loaded with this.
- Fatal Method Acting: During the filming of an early episode, stuntman Paul Dallas was killed on August 2, 1996 when he struck his head after landing on the edge of the airbag that was supposed to have broken his three-story fall. Unfortunately, he had been ejected backward and the back of his head had hit a metal railing.
- Final Battle: The final episode features a battle between Chase and Bobby Cole in the streets with semi-trucks, helicopters and rocket launchers, ending with a final stand-off on a pier.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Redefined the literal trope: During its second season, the show replaced Baywatch on the #1 spot in Germany.
- Also in France, the show has been reran several times due to its popularity.
- Happily Married: August and Kendra.
- In Episode 23, Oliver King suggests cutting an action sequence from an earlier-produced film into a new project that is in production, something done on a regular basis in L.A. Heat.
- Also in the same episode, a boy asks 1960s TV star Wayne Berry to sign his picture of Captain Crimestopper. The boy says his name is Ricky Pepin. Richard Pepin is one of the creators and executive producers of L.A. Heat.
- In Episode 25, Chase tells August "I bet you don't even watch The X-Files." At the time, Steven Williams had a recurring role in the series.
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: The series began filming in 1996, and in 1997, it already premiered in Germany on RTL 2 on January 20; in France on March 16, and in Portugal on May 18, and became popular. Meanwhile in the US, since it didn't have a backing of a major network, it was not picked up for domestic distribution. It's US premiere came on March 15, 1999 on TNT cable network. And after TNT's contract to run the show expired, it disappeared from the American airwaves.
- Odd Couple and Saltand Pepper:
- Officer O'Hara: Chase (Chester McDonald). We learn that he actually is part Irish in Episode 42.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Whit in "Strange Currencies", before the shootout. Also doubles as a Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:Whit: D... E... A...
- Pun Intended: In Episode 17, Cragmeyer says that the Ace Industries is located in Ventura.
- Put on a Bus: Jodi after Episode 19.
- Shout-Out: In Episode 22, when Chase visits his mentally disabled cousin, Treat, in a mental hospital, he is imitating a Tarzan yell, then asks Chase "Pretty good Tarzan, huh?", to which Chase (Wolf Larson) replies "I've heard better."
- Stock Footage: Many of the show's big budget car chases and explosions were sourced from scenes from PM Entertainment's feature films.
- Turn in Your Badge and Cowboy Cop: In the finale, after his girlfriend, Nicole Stockman was killed by the series' Arc Villain Bobby Cole, Chase is suspended from the force for destroying important papers belonging to Cole. After that, he goes rogue to get Cole himself, becoming the latter in spades.
- Yandere: Charlie in the episode Strange Currencies. She's shown to be a psychopathic crush to Chase.