Inspectors 81 are back on the tough streets of San Francisco for a fourth season of gritty police work. Remember, these are the same streets Dirty Harry worked during the same decade. There are some memorable moments in this next half season release of “Streets”. In case you don’t know the show, here’s a rundown. Detective “Iron” Mike Stone (Karl Malden) is a seasoned veteran of the San Francisco Police Department. He’s an old-fashioned, no-nonsense detective whose life has taken some bitter turns of late. Much to his aggravation, he gets partnered with Keller (Michael Douglas), a green detective who hasn’t lost his belief that he can make a difference. Together they just might be able to teach each other something. Before long the two develop a teacher/mentor relationship that works well enough to solve the cases and get the bad guys.
If you weren’t around in the 1970’s, you might be surprised to find out that film superstar Michael Douglas was once in a television cop show. It was this influential crime drama that allowed Douglas to show off the acting chops that would earn him a spot in the Hollywood elite for decades to come. It didn’t hurt any that he was able to team up with Karl Malden, an undervalued talent in his own right. The two of them bring the show to life. The series was run by Quinn Martin, himself no stranger to groundbreaking television. Martin was the same talent who created the crime drama with The Untouchables. His uncanny ability to come up with a clever premise was responsible for such milestones in television history as The Invaders and The Fugitive. Later he would continue to shape the look of television with shows like Tales Of The Unexpected, The FBI, and Most Wanted. He was the Steven Bochco of his time. Long before NYPD Blue, Martin was able to make San Francisco, the city itself, an iatrical character for Malden and Douglas to interact with. The show had tremendous style, even if the cases were purely formula. Certainly you won’t find anything in these plots you haven’t seen a hundred times before. What you will find is a unique presentation that somehow makes even the most mundane story appear quite compelling. If you enjoy the Bochco and Wolf dramas or fall in with such classics as Starsky and Hutch or Miami Vice, you owe a tremendous debt to Martin for setting the table for all of those fantastic meals that would follow.
The fourth season certainly has its share of interesting cases. The season begins with Poisoned Snow. The duo are investigating the death of a cop but have to deal with his partner who keeps getting in the way intent on revenge. In No Place To Hide the two go up against a gang of prison inmates who threaten to kill other inmates’ wives if the wives don’t help to smuggle contraband into the prison. Trail Of Terror has Keller trying to get past a gauntlet of bad guys to transport a witness. In Judgement Day a vigilante is going after soft judges whom he blames for destroying his father’s legal career. A teen girl is looking for her lost father, the same man Keller and Stone are trying to find in Runaway.
Guest stars include: Paul Sorvino, Richard Basehart, Robert Reed, Bill Bixby, Fritz Weaver, Greg Morris, Larry Hagman, Meg Foster, Kenneth Tobey, John Ritter, Bradford Dillman, Vera Miles, Stefanie Powers, Mark Hamill, Alan Fudge and Clu Gulager.
The sets are still released in half seasons, but Paramount has stepped it up and released both halves at the same time. Buy both sets and you get all 23 episodes on six discs. “It’s not like the old days.”