Street Hawk is a synthesis of every great show of the mid-’80s. Jesse March (Rex Smith) is a motorcycle cop that messes up his knee so he has to take a desk job. Norman Tuttle (Joe Regalbuto) runs a secret government program. He restores Jesse’s knee so that he can ride his Street Hawk motorcycle. Besides being a technological marvel with computers and rockets, the bike can hit 300 miles per hour on the streets of Los Angeles. Jesse keeps his identity a secret as he fights crime after hours.
The various series that come into play for Street Hawk are the cream of the era. Right off the bat the show has the super-vehicle angle worked on Air Wolf and Knight Rider. Like The A-Team, the law considers Street Hawk a bad guy instead of hero. This is a vision of the near future with massive computers like Max Headroom. The score using synth sounds of the legendary Tangerine Dream harks to Miami Vice. There’s plenty of inadvertent humor that makes it play like Sledge Hammer. Street Hawk: The Complete Series explodes with the essence of ‘80s TV action over 13 episodes.
Rex Smith swash-buckled his way to the top thanks to a pop singing career and the lead in The Pirates of Penzance. He’s kind of the opposite of Don Johnson and David Hasselhoff, having been a successful musician before small screen stardom, and has the cocky nature necessary to play Officer Jesse Mach. He’s part of the LAPD’s motorcycle stunt team in “The Pilot.” Things go bad quick when he loses his best friend and his ability to ride a bike.
Stuck at a desk job, Tuttle shows up with Street Hawk and changes his life for the better. The super-bike responds well to the revived daredevil cop and son he’s ready for action against the perfect bad guy: Christopher Lloyd.
The man who was best known as the spacey Rev. Jim on Taxi and Marty McFly’s wacky friend Doc Brown is a blood thirsty crime boss in Street Hawk and there’s no laughter when he locks his eyes on a character. The main bothersome thing about the pilot is why must Jesse work two government jobs? What happens if he gets injured on the Street Hawk bike? Which job lets him file workman’s comp? When does the guy get to sleep? Which job pays him better? The pilot movie shows that the series isn’t going to tease on the action. There’s lots of stunts in the 75 minutes.
“A Second Self” roars in with a young George Clooney in his first major role. Clooney has arrived in Los Angeles to hang out with Jesse. Although work calls as the Street Hawk chases down a stolen car ring. Little does Jesse know that Clooney’s also on the case, but working the other side. There’s strange humor when Tuttle gives more than bromance gazes at Clooney. The episode brings in Rachel Adams (Jeannie Wilson) to be Jesse’s co-worker at his day job in the office of Lt. Cmdr. Leo Altobelli (Richard Venture). “The Adjuster” gets Jesse tangled in a jewelry deal and fake cops. The gem of the collection is Marjoe Gortner (Earthquake). “Vegas Run” brings Sybil Danning, the ultimate ‘80s scream queen. She’s a Vegas dancer that’s slated to testify against a mobster. She flees for her life and the safety that can only be found on the back of the Street Hawk. “Dog Eat Dog” illustrates the evil of the rock lifestyle with the help of Fear’s Lee Ving.
“Fire On the Wing” torches the screen with warehouse arson attacks. Tige Andrews (The Mod Squad) gets caught up in the blackmail scheme. “Chinatown Memories” brings an old flame back into Jesse’s life. She’s in the middle of a Chinese mobster fight over a statue. Keye Luke (Gremlins and Charlie Chan’s Number One Son) is a godfather. “The Unsinkable 453″ connects a jail break with an overthrown dictator’s cash. Bianca Jagger sizzles without Mick. “Hot Target” gets Tuttle a girlfriend in Joanna Kerns. Trouble is Charles Napier (Squidbillies) wants to kill them all with hi- tech weapons. “Murder Is a Novel Idea” will be a delight to Soup fans with a young Steve Edwards of Good Day LA playing a TV reporter. “The Arabian” has a horse insurance scam involving M.C. Gainey (Lost). “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” ends the rainbow for the series. Don Swayze (True Blood) is part of gold heist. Street Hawk should have lasted as long as A-Team. It’s the cream of ‘80s action TV.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The color transfers look fine with a little schmutz on the frame. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. Crank up the bass to truly enjoy the Tangerine Dream pumping while Jesse zips around Los Angeles on the supercycle.
Street Hawk: The Making of a Legend (40:39) gives all the good stories from the set. Smith, Regalbuto and Wilson contribute to the talk. There’s plenty of praise for George Clooney. Smith talks about his love of riding motorcycles so this was a part he was born to play. He also still looks good enough to ride the Street Hawk one more time as a SyFy movie. Regalbuto went on to star in Murphy Brown. They blame the cancelation of the show on the large production budget.
Images contains publicity stills, action shots, bike designs, behind the scenes, original bike restoration and collectibles. Thrill to the sight of vintage Street Hawk toys.
Current Cast Biographies let us know what Smith, Regalbuto and Wilson have been doing over the years. Richard Venture went on to do Law & Order.
Series Synopsis is the lines used at the start of each episode.
Original Series Concept is the network pitch.
Original Press Brochure Release is what was sent out by the network to newspapers.
1982 Original Cast Biographies lets us know what Smith, Regalbuto and Venture had done before the series started.
Unbroadcasted Pilot (73:47) is the early cut of the series taken from a video cassette. The edit is slightly different with early effects. Besides lack of detail from the source, “Prop. MCA #3965″ is burned onto the frame. This might be eliminated with the crop button on your HDTV.
Street Hawk: The Complete Series is the consummate ‘80s action series. There’s lots of preposterous moments such as how can you find enough empty streets in Los Angeles to get up to 300 mph? It can be 4 a.m. and the highways are jammed. If you can put your brain on idol, Rex Smith does all the driving. The bonus features allow a new fan to savour the genius of this obscure series. If you’re a fan of Knight Rider or A-Team, Street Hawk: The Complete Series must be in your collection.
Fabulous and Shout! Factory presents Street Hawk: The Complete Series. Starring: Rex Smith, Joe Regalbuto, Richard Venture and Jeannie Wilson. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: July 13, 2010.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.
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