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Series / Silk Stalkings

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Silk Stalkings is an American crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on November 7, 1991. Broadcast for two seasons until CBS ended the Crimetime experiment in June 1993, the remaining six seasons ran exclusively on USA Network until the series finale on April 18, 1999. The show was creator Stephen J. Cannell's longest-running series. Its title is a wordplay on silk stockings.

The series portrays the daily lives of two detectives who solve sexual-based crimes of passion ("silk stalkings") among the ultra rich of Palm Beach, Florida.

From 1991 to 1995, the lead characters were played by Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture, as Sgt. Christopher Lorenzo and Sgt./Lt. Rita Lee "Sam" Lance, respectively. The story lines were told in a partially first-person perspective focusing on Lance, who would speak in voiceovers throughout the episodes. Following the departure of Estes and Lorenzo in season 5, they were replaced by Nick Kokotakis and Tyler Layton as Det. Michael Price and Det. Holly Lawton. Fans of the show did not embrace the new characters, and they were replaced after that half-season by Chris Potter and Janet Gunn as Det. Sgt. Tom Ryan and Det. Sgt. Cassandra "Cassy" St. John. After three additional seasons, USA cancelled the series in 1999.

We call these tropes Silk Stalkings:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Chris and Rita call each other Sam. It was because they were both fans of golfer 'Slamming' Sam Snead.
  • Attempted Rape: In "Pilot", Rita is undercover at a high society party and agrees to accompany a suspect to his yacht. He attempts to rape her, but, after a struggle, she manages to pull her gun and clap it against his groin. She manages to get out without blowing her cover.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: In "Going to Babylon", Chris walks into the autopsy room with a cup of coffee and a muffin. Rita remarks that in all of her time on the force, she has never been able to do that.
  • Caught on Tape: In "S.O.B.", a charter boat skipper has a hidden camera concealed behind a two-way mirror in the master stateroom which he uses to record his rich clients having sex with a prostitute so he can blackmail them. It also records Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense trust-fund kid assaulting, and apparently killing, the Victim of the Week, and sends the tape to the police take the heat off himself. He had riled the rich kid up and sent him there hoping he would kill the victim, but he was only knocked out. The skipper finished him off and dumped him overboard.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: In "Services Rendered", Sergeants Tom Ryan and Cassy St. John interview apartment manager Brenda while she and a guy friend are engaged in foreplay poolside. She and her "friend" are kissing each other's necks and he has already untied her bikini top:
    Tom Ryan Sergeants Ryan and St. John, Palm Springs P.D..
    Brenda: Can you get back in 10 minutes?
    Tom Ryan: Cheaper than renting a video.
    Cassy St. John: Are you Brenda, the manager?
    Brenda: Is there any way this can wait
    Cassy: We're here to talk about Mark Ripley, one of your tenants.
    Brenda There's no one here by that name.
    Cassy: We traced a phone number by Ripley to his condominium apartment in this complex. J4. (Tom shows Brenda a photo)
    Brenda: That's Donnie. Donnie Travis. Apartment J4. Nice guy. Great swimmer. Great body!
    Cassy: Great.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Many murder victims are call girls who have seen too much or get in over their head.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: A series about detectives investigating "crimes of passion" among Palm Beach's tony set? Cue the dead bodies of beautiful, glamorous women. It seems like almost every other episode had at least one female victim whose dead body is seen at the crime scene or laid out in the morgue.
  • Ear Ache: In "Going to Babylon'', a High-Class Call Girl is murdered by having a hatpin shoved through her eardrum.
  • Fair Cop: Det. St. John. Many suspects and witnesses were taken by her beauty, which understandably frustrated her due to being more interested in proving her worth and solving her cases.
  • Film Noir: Set in The '90s, but with stories heavily based on noir.
  • Groin Attack: The series had often used this trope from within a couple of episodes, in which a woman would usually either kick or knee a man in the groin.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Prostitution among the wealthy elite is a common theme, so we get plenty of these.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: In "Going to Babylon", Chris gets gets knocked down by someone he surprises searching the Victim of the Week's apartment. Chris grabs his attackers foot in an attempt to stop him escaping, but the attacker kicks Chris in the ribs to dislodge him.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The show was filmed in San Diego, but supposedly took place in Palm Beach, Florida. Of course, Mount Soledad, the Laguna Mountains and many lesser hills were prominent in the backgrounds of many exterior shots. Several Floridian fans of the show joked that it was obviously Mount Dora we were seeing in the background. note  While not famous for hills the way, say, San Francisco is, San Diego does have a few streets that climb 144 feet over a few blocks. The highest point in all of Palm Beach County (which is twice the size of Rhode Island) is a 20-foot high ridge east of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
  • Murderous Thighs: A non-lethal version in "Pas de Deux", in which Chris and Rita investigated the murder of a male ballet dancer in which identical twin ballerinas, one the victim's wife and the other his mistress, were suspects (eventually cleared). While Chris questioned the mistress, she seduced him, wrapping her legs tightly around his midsection and refusing to let go until Rita walked in on them.
  • Out with a Bang: Happens in almost every episode. Sometimes more than once. One example stands out in "Where There's a Will": a wealthy man is murdered by his younger partner when she handcuffs him to the bed and forces him to take a sexual performance enhancement drug that aggravates his heart condition. The man starts begging her to stop when he realizes what's happening, but she ignores him and continues to ride him while he's suffering a fatal heart attack.
  • Pistol-Whipping: In "Pilot", Rita drops an ex-CIA assassin who has just floored Chris by slamming him over the back of the head with her pistol.
  • Pun-Based Title: playing on the silk stockings worn by femme fatales and "stalking," being the nefarious crimes perpetrated by the villains of the week.
  • Rule of Pool: In "S.O.B.", Rita is talking to a suspect by his pool when the suspect's fiancee gets suspicious and tries to hustle Rita out of there. Rita gives her a push that topples her over the edge of the pool.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: After the two co-leads were written out at the end of Season 5, two Suspiciously Similar Substitute detectives take the lead, but they weren't popular, so they were promptly replaced themselves by two other Suspiciously Similar Substitute detectives half a season later without explanation.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Nearly every episode, petite Rita Lance, wearing body-hugging clothes, suddenly pulls a full-frame service automatic from under her jacket.
  • Stocking Filler: Stockings and garter belts feature in many episodes, and are even used in the opening credits. The title itself is a pun on the phrase "silk stockings."
  • Stylish Protection Gear: The Coroner Roger wears bright orange surgical scrubs that match his taste is shirts (it was The '90s).
  • Sunshine Noir: Sexy, noir-style crimes among the super-rich in glamorous Palm Beach, Florida. The color palette is noticeably bright. The police station itself has neon-lighted displays of beach scenes on its walls!
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: In "Going to Babylon", Rita hides Chris's holdout gun down the top of her Little Black Dress.
  • Waif-Fu: Both Lance and St. John are surprisingly tough fighters for their slender physiques.
  • Working with the Ex: In the final seasons, the original cops were replaced by the characters of Tom Ryan and Cassy St. John, who have been through a somewhat angry divorce, but who also (it rapidly becomes very clear) are far from over each other. It's shown over time that Tom would die for Cassy, if necessary, and Cassy is definitely still hung up on him, to the damage of her other relationships. It rapidly becomes clear from their comments and other indications that the biggest problem between them was mostly immaturity on both their parts, the only thing standing in their way as a couple was/is the need for them both to grow up a bit.