A look back at the actor's shows ''Vega$'' and ''Spenser: For Hire''

The timex of TV stars, Robert Urich, has taken a lickin’ and kept on tickin’ in no fewer than 13 prime-time series. Two of his most successful vehicles — meaning they ran for three seasons each — can now be seen back-to-back: Vega$ (FX, weekdays, 10-11 a.m.) and Spenser: For Hire (TNT, weekdays, 11 a.m.-noon). While these shows seem similar on the surface — both ABC dramas cast Urich as a smartass private eye — they’re actually as different as the cities they’re set in. Executive-produced by Aaron Spelling, Vega$ is glitzy and sleek, like the red Thunderbird in which Urich’s Dan Tanna tools around Sin City. Spenser, based on Robert B. Parker’s best-selling Boston-based mysteries, is a more highbrow affair. Urich’s Spenser (his first name is never revealed) is a gourmet more prone to quote Yeats than to bust heads. He leaves most of the dirty work to his thuggish sidekick, Hawk (a pre-Deep Space Nine Avery Brooks). Lots of not-yet-famous faces (Samuel L. Jackson, Eriq La Salle) guested on Spenser. On July 29, catch the young Laurence Fishburne, back when he still answered to ”Larry.”