B.L. Stryker: The Complete First Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com
Palm Beach, Florida is the land of rich old people who can’t figure out how to punch a ballot. B.L. Stryker (Burt Reynolds) is an ex-New Orleans cop who has returned home to live the life of a slug about with his banged up ’60 Caddie and dilapidated houseboat. He’s an eyesore in this playground of the wealthy. Nobody wants him inside the city limits. His only real friends in the area are Lynn Ellingsworth (Kristy Swanson) and Oz Jackson (Ozzie Davis). While he wants to get out of the police work game, he finds an old case from the Big Easy has decided to take a Florida vacation.

“The Dancer’s Touch” is a very impressive TV movie. It’s better than the theatrical films Burt was cranking out at the time. A freak is attacking society women in Palm Beach. Before he sexually assaults them, the bound women are given full body oil massages. He also performs a modern dance routine. This intruder is a copycat of the criminal that made Stryker quit the New Orleans police force. While Stryker wants to remain retired, the local cops need his help. He remains on the fringe of the investigation until the maniac comes after him and his friends. Director William A. Fraker brings a creepy eye to the massage maniac. Fraker’s was the cinematographer on Rosemary’s Baby and Bullitt.

The pilot gets bonus points for casting Abe Vigoda in a mysterious role. Rita Moreno is introduced in the middle of a sensual massage. Who knew the star of The Electric Company had such great dorsal action? She plays Stryker’s ex-wife that’s married up the money tree since dumping him. Rita looks extra good giving Burt the business. Ozzie Davis is also in fine form as the pal stuck with constantly hearing Stryker’s old college football memories. He evan looks convincing as he chases down the maniac. This TV-movie series got off on the right foot for a Burt Reynolds’ production.

The remaining four movies of the first season aren’t as creepy as the pilot. “Carolann” brings Stryker’s childhood galpal (Deborah Raffin) back to the neighborhood. She’s now a Middle Eastern princess with a husband who deals arms. Such a marriage drags trouble to paradise with their various friends, enemies and business associates. Stryker is stuck in the middle of an international incident. “Auntie Sue” brings relative trouble to town. An elderly aunt and friends drag Stryker into a real estate deal. Ted McGinley pops up, but his appearance doesn’t lead to the show immediately jumping the shark. “Blues for Buder” lets a pre-Doogie Howser Neil Patrick Harris explode as a Marjoe Gortner-style child evangelist. His elite prep school isn’t happy with his fire and brimstone preaching on the campus. Stryker’s hired to get the preaching out of the boy so he can enroll in a proper school. Michael Chiklis is a sinister minister who wants control of the boy and tap his trust fund. The script was co-written by Robert B. Parker, the author of the novels adapted for Spencer: For Hire.

Stryker’s role model seems to be Jim Rockford mixed with Burt’s past. They’re both rough and tumble investigators slumming it on the fringe of paradise. The big difference is that Stryker isn’t out to make his name as a private investigator. He just keeps getting dragged into cases.

B.L. Styker isn’t a movie star slumming it in the world of television. These ninety-three minute movies are more entertaining than Stroker Ace, Rent-a-Cop and Switching Channels. This is a must see for fans of Burt Reynolds’ oeuvre. B.L. Stryker reminds us what Burt can do when he’s not stuck in a film that features him constantly mugging it up for the camera while paired with Dom DeLuise (which happens in season two).


Disc One:

The Dancer’s Touch

Carolann aka Royal Gambit

Blind Chess

Auntie Sue

Blues For Buder

The picture is 1.33:1. It appears that Stryker was shot on film, but cut on video. This limits the sharpness and detail of the image. The transfers are clean.

The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are good.

Three Screenplays are presented in pdf. While they call them scripts, these files only feature the dialogue from the movies.

The Inside Pulse


Hart Sharp Video presents B.L. Stryker: The Complete First Season. Created by: Christopher Crowe. Starring: Burt Reynolds, Kristy Swanson, Ozzie Davis. Running time: 471 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: February 26, 2008. Available at Amazon.com