Finally, that awesome show that clashed with BBC's Top of the Pops every Thursday night has arrived on DVD, and - even after twenty-five years - it's still far more entertaining than Peter Powell or Dave Lee Travis!
Street Hawk followed the exploits of Jesse Mach, an ex-motorcycle cop injured not in the line of duty (as the dramatic voice over would announce in the opening reel of each episode), but in a chance encounter with a drug dealer, with a penchant for hit-and-run assassination, whilst on a two-week suspension from the force. Subsequently relegated to a desk job, poor Jesse emerges from the attack a broken man, his passion for fighting crime on two wheels now nothing more than a distant memory.
Enter Norman Tuttle, a geeky Federal agent with a knack for designing high-tech motorcycles and having damaged policemen patched up with a revolutionary "new prosthesis", making Jesse an offer he can't refuse.
Cancelled after only thirteen episodes due to lacklustre Nielson ratings in the US (a direct result of it's graveyard spot in the Stateside TV schedule), the show went on to win itself a healthy audience in the UK, and throughout much of Europe, resulting in both a Street Hawk annual and four tie-in novels - how's THAT for heady success!
The announcement of this long overdue release will, I'm sure, make many nostalgists as happy as I was when I first got wind of this box set - It's always fun to satisfy one's nostalgic cravings with a dive into the comfort viewing of yesteryear, and - when all is said and done - the show holds up very well indeed! Granted, the cheese factor occasionally spikes off the scale, the hardware doesn't look as hard as it used to, and George Clooney (appearing in the second episode) delivers one of the most excruciating performances of the decade, but it's all delivered with a naive sense of fun, and accompanied by a dazzling score from the legendary Tangerine Dream, which, even today, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention.
My only criticism regarding this release is its NTSC mastering. In an attempt to lower production costs, it would seem that the distributor has exactly duplicated its American release for all territories around the world, resulting in a slightly disappointing product for us Brits, who are more accustomed to the far smoother and more accurately coloured 25fps PAL standard. Fabulous Films, hang your cheap-skate heads in shame. Oh, actually I do have one more gripe - the pointless 8 page collector's booklet, which presents no insight into the conception, design or history of the show. What it does offer is a criminally underwritten episode guide and a pointless centre spread, featuring a badly cropped section of Universal's blueprint for the bike. It would seem that the booklet's only purpose is to fool the DVD buying public into thinking they're getting more bang for their buck when they read of its existence in the special features list on the case. All is not lost, however, since the uncropped blueprint appears in the stills gallery on the fourth disc, along with some rather amusing publicity shots and a number of great US newspaper ads.
The documentary is fun too, with three of the show's key players - Rex Smith, Joe Regalbuto and Jeannie Wilson - waxing lyrical about their time on the project, and hinting that there may yet be more to come! Looking at how little they've aged over the past quarter of a century (Has it really been that long?), the idea doesn't seem as ridiculous as one might imagine, and it would be great to see the Hawk in action one last time!
So, overall, not a perfect package, but an acceptable release for the price. Maybe they'll get it right on Blu ray!