Street Hawk is an adventure series about a young cop named Jesse Mach, played by one-time 80s pop idol Rex Smith, who gets injured on the job and is selected to be a part of an experimental motorcycle / vigilante program (funded by the government), that is helmed by computer genius Norman Tuttle, played by a pre-Murphy Brown Joe Regalbuto.
The series began with a feature length pilot episode that goes to great lengths to explain all of Street Hawk (the name of the program that gets adopted by Jesse and his cycle for their hero moniker) and the reasoning for all the characters’ involvement. For an origin story, it has a nice balance of goofy antics between the two heroes as they become best friends, along with plenty of exposition between the action scenes.
The regular episodes move at a much heartier pace, as we get all the explanation we need in the narrated intro (very reminiscent of The Incredible Hulk). There are no cliffhangers and very few characters, other than our leads, carry over from episode to episode. Each is its own contained story.
The majority of the action in this series can be explained in the following equation: Vehicles plowing through inexplicable piles of boxes = excitement! Yes, the old action stereotype of boxes and other items being slowing hauled across the street just so they can be ran over by a police chase is alive and well in this series. In fact, this show makes for a nearly perfect blend of all things that are to be expected in a 1980s action program. We get a lot of montages (especially if exercise is involved), big hair (on men and women), corny feel-good moments peppered throughout, and some really bad music injected into the score (not counting the sci/fi savvy, synthesizer theme by Tangerine Dream).
The Odd Couple style dynamic between Jesse and Norman works as there is a natural chemistry between the actors. Both are charming and affable, which helps us to delve into the stories more willingly. Speaking of the stories, as the series progresses they become less and less about Street Hawk as a vigilante but instead he becomes a super-powered last resort for guaranteeing a victory over dangerous foes. Initially we get the J Jonah Jameson (of Spiderman) style bluster from Jesse’s real-life boss about how Street Hawk is a menace, but that is all but forgotten as more adventures come. Street Hawk, as a character, becomes “cool” more for his mysteriousness than his capabilities.
Fullscreen 4:3. The footage has aged but is presented with a forgivable amount of scratches. Being a series that lasted only one season, it is understandable that it would not have been maintained as well as others. All things consdiered, its decent enough.
Like many an aging, lesser known series, we can only expect English Mono to be standard issue. That in mind, the quality is fine. Everything is balanced well. The menu is the most disruptive thing as the synthesizer theme is not the most calm music in the world to listen to on a loop, with the volume enhanced.
I mentioned this being a “lesser known” series. At best, it can maybe get away with being called a Cult hit in certain circles (it was big in Europe and India) and those that are fans will be extremely happy with the Special Features. Great care and extra effort went into something that normally wouldn’t receive, perhaps being evidence that there is a cult following out there…perhaps just a quiet and patient one.
Street Hawk – The Making of a Legend: A 41 minute documentary that is mainly comprised of recent interviews and reflections by the leads, Rex Smith, joe Regalbuto and Jeannie Wilson (the latter being a supporting player really). They speak of the series with great pride and yet pity for it did not get the chance to last longer. They have some fun pointing out obvious continuity errors and spend a good chunk of time talking about select guest stars, especially a very young George Clooney making his second ever appearance on television.
Stills Galleries: This one really surprised me. Not only did it feature action shots and pictures of the work behind the scenes, but also of collectibles, promo material and other interesting visual tidbits that one does not normally see in such a feature. A refreshingly dedicated change of pace.
Star Bios: There are two of these. On being the originals from the show, the others are updated for the DVD release date.
Series and Episode Synopsis: Self-explanatory fan service.
Unaired Pilot: The unaired version of the pilot we see in the show. Other than the low quality of the film, the only other major differences of note are the licensed music being used and the change of colour of Street Hawk’s laser beam.
This is a fine action series that has a lot of fun with itself, making it a lot of fun for the audience, but not so much that it is too cheesy. This show proves worthy of such a well-assembled DVD set, and will no doubt pleasantly surprise new comers, just as it did for me.
Below are some sample clips: