1 9 8 5 (USA)
13 x 60 minute episodes
Father Noah ‘Hardstep’ Rivers (Robert Blake) was a hard-living Catholic priest at St. Dominic’s, a church in a crime-filled slum neighbourhood on the east side of Los Angeles – the “Hell Town” of the title (Rivers was nicknamed ‘Hardstep’ because he had been abandoned as an infant on a hard step in a rainstorm).
Blake began working on the concept for Helltown while working on the made-for-TV movie Blood Feud in 1983. He originally took the idea for the series to ABC because he had done Baretta for them, but they weren’t interested.
NBC picked up the idea, and the series ran for 13 episodes between 4 September and 25 December 1985.
An assortment of odd characters was on hand to help out Father Hardstep: Whitman Mayo as pool-playing One Ball; Jeff Corey as atheist attorney Lawyer Sam; Natalie Cole as Mother Maggie; Vonetta McGee as Sister Indigo; Isabel Grandin as Sister Angel Cakes; Rhonda Dodson as Sister Daisy; Tony Longo as Stump; Zitto Kazann as Crazy Horse; and Eddie Quillan as Poco Loco.
Episodes were filmed mostly on location, and Blake insisted on using real street people as extras.
Robert Blake found himself in the spotlight as a prime suspect when his wife was shot dead in Los Angeles in 2001. He was found not guilty.
In November 2005, a jury in a civil case found Blake liable for the wrongful death of his wife and ordered him to pay $30 million. In February 2006, he filed for bankruptcy.
Blake died from heart disease in Los Angeles on 9 March 2023, aged 89.
Father Noah ‘Hardstep’ Rivers
Sister Angel Cakes
Father of Hell Town (Pilot) | Let My Jennie Go | The People vs. Willy the Goat | Hell Town Goes Bananas | Fast Louie | I Will Abide | Stumpy Boy | Lords of War | The One Called Daisy | Love and the Four Corners | The Rat Man Cometh | Straight to Hell | One Ball