DVD Review: The Streets of San Francisco (Season 4, Volumes 1 & 2)

Hollywood is riddled with tales of successful actors that split successful TV shows for movie glory. Some become cinematic superstars like John Travolta and Eddie Murphy. Others crash, burn and limp back to the dial such found in the careers of David Caruso and Chevy Chase. When Micheal Douglas detoured from The Streets of San Francisco, he wasn’t merely dreaming of acting gigs. He was on the verge of winning the Best Picture Oscar for being the producer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He no longer had the time to zip around the land of Rice-A-Roni playing cops and robbers. He had studio meetings in Hollywood. The Streets of San Francisco: Season 4, Volume 1 and Volume 2 wraps up Douglas’ time as Inspector Keller. He no longer would learn how to solve homicides from Lt. Mike Stone (Karl Malden).

“Poisoned Snow” draws a chalk outline around an undercover narcotic’s agent when her deal goes bad. Her partner (Clu Gulager) is furious that he was off duty when she took a bullet. He wants to find the killer before Mike. What he doesn’t know his son’s true troubles. Playing the son is Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in Star Wars). “No Place to Hide” sets up a drug operation inside a prison. The convicts are forced to turn their wives to dealers otherwise they’ll get shived on the cellblock. Stephanie Powers (Hart to Hart) is a wife who doesn’t want to do the job, but can’t jeopardize her man’s life. Charles Napier (Squidbillies and Supervixens) is caught up in the racket. “Men Will Die” has a rape support group that wants more than justice from attackers. Vera Miles (Psycho) is behind this revenge. Michael Parks (Kill Bill) and Anitra Ford The Big Bird Cage) guest star on both sides of the crime. “School of Fear” comes up with an inventive solution for stopping violence in school. When a teacher is killed, his former colleague visits the campus ready to teach the violent brats a lesson. Among the killer kids is future Sweathog Robert Hegyes (Welcome Back, Kotter). Amongst the grown ups are Geoffrey Lewis (My Name Is Noboy) and Bernie Kopell (The Love Boat).

“Murder By Proxy” uncovers a land developer devaluing a neighborhood by importing criminals to terrorize the locals. Sorrell Booke (Dukes of Hazzard), John Ritter (Three’s Company) and Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinnati) guest star as serious characters. Soon all would rise as comic icons. “Trail of Terror” turns a simple jade smuggling operation into a murder ring. James Woods (The Onion Fields) is young and scary. “Dead Air” prepares America for Larry Hagman being the wicked J.R. Ewing. After being the goofy astronaut on I Dream of Jeanie, Hagman is serious as a radio talkshow host that just might have killed his favorite listener. Mike and Steve don’t trust the semi-shrink of the airwaves. “Merchants of Death” elevates the gang action when a crate of guns is hijacked. Greg Morris (Mission: Impossible) can’t see more killing in the neighborhood or can he? “The Cat’s Paw” makes Mike get too close to a fellow inspector (The Silence of the Lamb‘s Diane Baker). Can he keep it business while tracking cat burglars?

Volume 2 starts with “Spooks for Sale.” Turns out a business war has been using high tech equipment and personal to swipe secrets. The big secret is Tom Selleck (Magnum P.I.). “Police Buff” transforms Bill Bixby from a man who likes to listen to the police scanner into too active of a citizen helper. Can Mike catch him before he renders justice to another suspect? “The Honorable Profession” exposes Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch) as a fake doctor. Seems he’s been treating a lot of people around the Bay area. Mike wants him cause Reed can ID a murder suspect. “Requiem for a Murder” questions why a Bishop (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea‘s Richard Basehart) won’t finger the creep who shot him. “Underground” slips down to give us Playmate Claudia Jennings (Gator Bait). “Clown of Death” slaps greasepaint on Mike to uncover a circus related murder. “Runaway” puts Stone and Steve on the trail of his killer. Problem is that his daughter (Pamelyn Ferdin) also wants to find the guy. The race is on.

It’s a shame the Douglas had to leave the show. But there’s no way to blame the guy for splitting. Weeks after his final episode, Douglas would be on stage holding his first Academy Award. His chemistry with Karl Malden couldn’t compete with clutching an Oscar. Luckily the producers found a new rookie detective to learn from Malden. Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica) joined what would be the final season. The fifth season is scheduled to be released on October 30. For now we say goodbye to Michael Douglas who would return to being a fake San Francisco homicide cop in Basic Instinct.

The Episodes
“Poisoned Snow,” “The Glass Dart Board,” “No Place to Hide,” “Men Will Die,” “School of Fear,” “Deadly Silence,” “Murder by Proxy,” “Trail of Terror,” “Web of Lies,” “Dead Air,” “Merchants of Death,” “The Cat’s Paw,” “Spooks for Sale,” “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Police Buff,” “The Honorable Profession,” “Requiem for Murder,” “Underground,” “Judgment Day,” “Clown of Death,” “Superstar,” “Alien Country” and “Runaway.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the details of the San Francisco locations. You get the true flavor of a mid-70s dive bar near the Bay. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels do a fine job of mixing the powerful opening theme with the quiet moments. The episodes are subtitled.

There are no bonus features.

The Streets of San Francisco: Season 4, Volume 1 and Volume 2 gives the final episodes of Inspector Steve Keller learning from Lt. Mike Stone. The duo did their best to expose the freaky murders in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can get both volumes together at a cheaper price than separate.

CBS DVD presents The Streets of San Francisco: Season 4, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Starring: Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. Boxset Contents: 23 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: August 28, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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