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This was definitely a good show and it really fed off the dynamic of the older cop (Malden) and the younger cop (Douglas). The chemistry between the two was what made the show great and it would eventually be the springboard to the later success that Michael Douglas would have in later years. Also, this show is definitely overlooked when it comes to classic police dramas. Too bad it had to come out in an era when the super cop shows dominated the television landscape.
The Streets of San Francisco, as with most Quinn Martin series, is a
standard crime drama. What makes the show better than most crime dramas
is the father/son chemistry between Karl Malden as veteran Detective
Lt. Mike Stone and Michael Douglas as the younger partner Inspector
Steve Keller, the 70's, R&B-style theme music by Patrick Williams and
the cool, pre-MTV opening credits.
What really made this show better than most is the fact that Quinn Martin did spend the extra money and filmed the show entirely in San Francisco. In the 70s, most prime time TV shows were filmed in Los Angeles. I believe Hawaii Five-O was one of only a few prime-time dramas from the early 70s that was filmed on location.
When Douglas left the series and Richard Hatch (from the original Battlestar Galactica, not the Richard Hatch from the first Survivor) replaced him, I quickly lost interest in the show. The chemistry between Malden and Douglas was very important to the show and Hatch had the thankless task of creating a character that in the long run was bland.
Despite the show's final season, I'm certain that if I had the TV on and heard the drum beats of The Streets of San Francisco theme, I am very sure that I will probably spend the rest of the hour watching the show.
Please make a DVD package available for Streets of San Francisco!! This
series was one that our family dropped everything to sit and watch
together. Drama, suspense, great characters and plot lines and clean
language all wrapped up in a 1-hour weekly show. How could you miss
having a faithful audience? In 1973 my infant daughter became a
(family) star on the episode titled "Most Feared in the Jungle." How
many moms can say that they met Karl Malden and Michael Douglas, who
commented on how cute the baby is?? I would LOVE to have a copy of it,
along with the rest of the series.
To whatever powers that be, I sincerely request that Streets be put on DVD. Thanks for listening!
The 119 hour-long episodes of this police drama were originally
broadcast on ABC from 1972 to 1977. This DVD contains 12 episodes (570
minutes) of the 23 episodes from the second season. All the second
season episode titles and their original air-dates are detailed below.
Quinn Martin ("The Fugitive" and "The F.B.I.") stayed with his favorite genre and enhanced it by using the city made famous for its crime by "Bullet" and "Dirty Harry". The production is classy but the stories are not particularly interesting or original.
The show's real claim to fame is as the best ever pairing of a veteran cop with a young hunk rookie. While this is an overused concept it works particularly well in this series because the actors (Karl Malden as Mike Stone and Michael Douglas as Steve Keller) shared much the same career dynamic as their on-screen characters. Veteran actor Malden ("On the Waterfront" etc.) plays a blue-collar 23-year veteran of the force and acting novice Douglas a college-educated newcomer interested in new methods of crime solving.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Republic Pictures' five released VHS videos which represent eight
different episodes are, I hope, the first of a complete series
release. In recent years, "Streets" has been relegated to the
pre-dawn graveyard of Indie and cable television stations, edited
down to allow for more ghastly, no-budget local ads (trade
schools, lawyers, and the like). Nowadays, low self-esteem
broadcasters plaster their logos and moving promo messages
along the bottom of the as if the program is an interruption of their
commercials. So, what a treat to see these classic episodes
without all of these distractions.
Although popular enough to run for five seasons, it never received the credit it deserved -- none of the hype of a "Charlie's Angels," for example. It's too bad that Michael Douglas didn't stick with the show. His performances in "Streets" and "The China Syndrome" are among his best. I'm crossing my fingers that he'll consider returning to a follow-up "Streets" later in his career, taking the senior detective's role that Malden held in the original.
"Streets" always had tight scripts, good plotting, and interesting characters -- even if they pandered to stereotypes a little. Way ahead of its time, gay themes are treated with surprising tact and good taste. In the episode "Harem," guest star Rick Nelson plays a gay pimp for female prostitutes (a novel idea in and of itself). The word "gay" is never used, but Steve (Douglas) simply tells Mike (Malden) that, "he's not exactly what you'd call a ladies man."
The two-hour special "Thrill Killers," is perhaps the most interesting release. Patty Duke Astin plays a not-too-thinly disguised Patty Hearst (a headline story at that time) who takes a whole jury hostage and begins killing them one by one. It's a relief not to have to wait a week to see part two.
The least interesting of these releases is "Dead Air," starring Larry Hagman as a radio talk show host (reminiscent of Bill Balance's Feminine Forum, an innovative show at the time). The studio scenes are completely unrealistic and the killer can be guessed before the end of Act 1.
Unfortunately, none of these eight releases includes an episode from "Streets" most famous director, Richard Donner ("The Omen" and "Lethal Weapon" series.) Maybe they'll release some of his episodes on DVD with a director's commentary? Also missing is what I consider to be the best episode of the series, "Mask of Death," which has an amazing performance by John Davidson as a female impersonator.
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal
Instead*Avoid At All Costs
This is a worthwhile enough TV series that never really became a major hit but,ironically enough,most probably played a part in setting Michael Douglas on the road to superstardom.Karl Malden is a fairly effective leading man,he overacts a little a few times but he provides a solid basis for the rest of the cast to work from.Douglas himself comes across as very eager to please,apparently determined to prove he could make it on his own as a credible actor and not just go into the big time on the basis of being his father's son.As an on screen pair,Malden and Douglas seem to lack much witty banter and effective rapport,preferring instead to heavy handedly solve cases,which probably explains why the show was never as big a hit as,say,Starsky and Hutch or Charlie's Angels.But great competence has obviously been put into making it,and it does,in turn,come off as very professionally made.One would wonder whether the San Francisco setting could be attributable to the success of the film Dirty Harry at around the time of it's release as well.***
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember occasionally watching this show with my parents back in the
day. I lived in San Jose at the time, and we loved going on day trips
to San Francisco. I often still was nostalgic about the Bay Area, and
when I've caught this show in reruns over the years, and the San
Francisco scenery brings back memories. Just being in The City has
always been a high for me. It may be stressful living there, but
visiting is at once exciting and relaxing.
I remember bits and pieces from the show's first-run days. I believe it was the episode "Letters From (Beyond?) The Grave," which began with a skeleton being dug up at Alcatraz. My sister was like, "Oh, my god." I believe it was another episode of the same series when the cops confronted a woman who took off all her makeup and turned out to be ugly. "She's gross!" my sister said. The woman started yelling at the mirror, "I killed you!" I think it was when I caught some reruns in the '80s that a suspect smiled and said he was at a local porno house a the time the cops said there was a crime they were investigating. They found out otherwise and just laughed at the suspect LOL.
Last Sunday I caught an episode on MeTV that was a not-bad morality tale involving a murder suspect, his employer, and the employer's son, who didn't get to spend much time with his dad. There was a lot of love among them, and the cops justly investigated. Kind of touching how all of the above characters went to bat for him.
I'll be watching some more reruns, including the pilot movie, be it on You Tube or MeTV. The chemistry between Michael Douglas and veteran actor Karl Malden was a fond memory of '70s TV.
Look for a guest appearance by a pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson as the title character of the episode "Hot Dog."
The headline says all I think about "The Streets of San Francisco". Great scene, great screenplays, great actors, great atmosphere. Michael Douglas shouldn't have left 1976... I would have loved to see two or three more seasons with the Stone/Keller team. SIMPLY THE BEST in any way! There have been only few "great" TV crime shows during the past 30 years; I would place Streets of San Francisco on top, followed by (in no particular order) Cannon, Petrocelli, Vega$, Magnum, Miami Vice, Jack and The Fatman, and Nash Bridges. These make watching TV a real pleasure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This couple of cops are mythic, Detective Lieutenant Mike Stone and his
partner Inspector Steve Keller are not walking but rolling the streets
of San Francisco chasing not petticoats or petty criminals but real
hard core criminals who are ready to kill anyone, including their
husbands or friends, though essentially weaker people, for a handful of
dollars, for sums that today sound small but in those days sounded
great like a few hundred thousand dollars or half a million dollars. It
seems with these criminals the risk they take is more important than
the profit they make. Yet they make that profit, or at least try to,
they run their risks and they get caught by the "villainous" cops who
are only there to get their heads, or at least their mugs, on their
walls over their fireplaces, if they have a fireplace, because what's
more these cops are poor and badly paid. Why on earth do they track
boys and girls who make more money in one month than they do in a
couple of decades? Because these cops are perverts and that is obvious
from the very start. You have to be a pervert to arrest a criminal and
find pleasure, pride and even fame in doing that. But these cops are
bringing to the profession another dimension, a human and even humane
dimension. They are moved into action by the suffering of the people,
by the social dimension of their cases, by the emotional and even
sentimental sides of their situations. There is always a lot of love
lost somewhere that is found again, or a lot of love that could have
been lost and is retained. There is also a lesson about Pearl Harbor
and about all kinds of jingoism or sectarianism or segregation or
racism, or whatever that makes life and humanity dirty looking and mean
sounding. Those two cops seem to be trying to create harmony, to be
scoring some music and tuning all the voices of the big social choir to
the one single pitch that could please human ears and from time to time
divine ears, but not too much nor too many. The 50 odd minute episodes
are not too long but are short enough to be packed and dense and that
is an advantage, a good asset. The structure in four acts and one
epilog is also rather nice though of course the format is becoming a
limitation little by little. Some more complex cases cannot be solved
in four little acts and one short epilog and fifty minutes is rather
short on TV. But that was the format on TV in these late 60s and early
70s when color TV became popular. My first color TV in 1969 with
Bonanza, Mission Impossible, Love American Style and so many other
programs. That sure was another time and television was not an
isolating tool yet but rather a machine around which people gathered
and enjoyed some time together every night. A tremendous leap forward
toward a culture for all and a social reflection for everybody and with
everybody. So these programs had to be popular and police drama had to
be close to people, close with a city like San Francisco that has
always had a reputation to be friendly and easy going, with simple
people who are severely hurt and maimed by crime and with some other
people who suffer tremendously because of the consequences of the
actions of criminals. That reveals though another type of courage, the
courage to suffer in order to bring about justice and simple people who
are the victims of such crimes are often willing to help justice rather
than to get a vengeance. And Bonanza was the same and Mission
Impossible was the same and Clint Eastwood and his spaghetti westerns
were the same. It is not so much the cops themselves that bring peace
to the community but the victims of crime that do and when one becomes
a stray cat of justice and wants to be a vigilante or a pistolero or a
gunslinger, then the whole universe reacts and brings that lost sheep
back into the corral. OK Corral of course and more than Dead or Alive
we want the criminals alive for the court and the judge and the jury.
This series is still quite viewable and decent, and even emotional and
at times slightly poignant. Quite different from the police dramas of
today that are even shorter and definitely a lot gorier.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID
My family used to love detective shows when I was a kid and we watched
them all the time. Recently, I decided to try watching a few of these
series and found I really liked many of them still. Sadly, "The Streets
of San Francisco" wasn't one of them. After watching the first two
discs of Season One from Netflix, I found that the writing was a
serious problem. Too many plot holes and way too many weird plot
elements made this show hard to stick with for long. For instance? In
the pilot, the killer turns out to be an old-time actor who dresses
like Anton LaVey and has built a dungeon where he can torment his
victims!! In the second episode, you have a Jack the Ripper-like guy
hacking up prostitutes! In the next episode, you have a crazed
kidnapper and ultra-violent guy talked out of crime after conversing
with the Detective! In the one after that, a guy who recreates women to
look like a woman he murdered--so he can then murder them!! All of
these crimes are insanely bizarre--too bizarre to be believed. And, the
plot holes...the many plot holes didn't make things any better.
Perhaps the show did get better after the first six episodes. I just know that there are better things I can do with my time than watch a series that seems so incredibly poorly written and ridiculous.
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