I know there are other performers that could be acknowledged here as part of this black history month mini-series, but none make me as giddy as Avery Brooks. Artistic director, director, singer, jazz pianist, actor, professor, and father. Primarily known for his work on television, the Indiana native, Avery Brooks is the man.
Avery Franklin Brooks
Mr. Brooks was another performer from my childhood that I was happy to see transition into my favourite universe. In 1985, Spenser for Hire (a vehicle for Robert Ulrich) aired and introduced me to a literate gumshoe and his street-smart sidekick – Hawk (Brooks). Despite being a favourite show at the time, I cannot remember a single plot point from the show — all I can remember is Avery Brooks saying “Spensaaah”. The show was popular through its four year run but production costs became too high. A spin-off show “A Man Called Hawk” emerged for Brooks with him creating the theme song.
I remember the premiere episode of Deep Space Nine (1993) and the encounter between (then Commander) Sisko and Captain Picard. I loved the ballsy move to introduce a new protagonist as an antagonist to a damaged (but beloved) Picard. Sisko was a passionate leader, a loving father, and a good friend. Did he have a habit of waxing and waning speech like Kirk? Sometimes. But he did what was right, even if it isn’t wasn’t proper.
Sisko struggled with his role as The Emissary — to be a religious leader of the people he was protecting on behalf of the Federation. His loyalties were understandably split, his fate rarely his own.
His relationship with Jake was amazing. He was a company man through and through but he made time for his son. He tried to impart wisdom and forethought rather than just rules to follow. Did they have tension? Sometimes. He was my tv father figure. The metaphor was clear — the necessity to strive, maintain hope, work as a team, be dependable and not being afraid to depend on others, but I wasn’t fond of the baseball obsession. Why not something sci-fi/futuristic?
To the end he was a great leader — diplomatic when possible, strategically combative when not. He kept his friends close and his enemies closer. If Captain Worf ever gets made, I hope Brooks returns as the fond Old Man.