While "Cagney & Lacey" wrestles hypothetically with the subject of abortion on the Nov. 11 episode, as reported Wednesday in The Times, the issue will hit closer to home for the title character in "Spenser: For Hire" on Tuesday night.
John Wilder, executive producer of the ABC series from Warner Bros. Television, Wednesday pointed out that on next week's "Spenser" episode--the first in its new Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot--the detective-philosopher hero played by Robert Urich will learn that girlfriend Susan Silverman (Barbara Stock) is pregnant and that he is the father. Spenser wants her to have the baby but she opts for an abortion.
Wilder isn't concerned about pressure against ABC not to air the show. On the contrary, he said, "we lobbied to have this our first episode in our new time slot. One reason we went for this theme is that it's controversial." It also "gets right to the theme of this character," he added. Spenser, in the Robert Parker novels in which he originated, is a strong proponent of "the individual's right to choice," Wilder said.
Wilder added that both the pro-abortion and right-to-life sides of the issue are "strongly expressed."
Abortion on TV, seemingly in vogue this season, is nothing new. Maude Findlay, played by current NBC "Golden Girls" star Bea Arthur, had an abortion on CBS' "Maude" in the late '70s. That episode was the subject of much viewer protest after it aired.