Shout! Factory // 1984 // 690 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 12th, 2010
The man. The machine.
During the heyday of TV-shows-about-kick-ass-conveyances, when attack helicopters and T-top Trans Ams were dishing out worlds of hurt to bad guys, another road warrior entered the picture -- briefly.
He is Street Hawk, the most fearsome motorcycle-riding vigilante the criminal world has ever seen! When stud cop and former motocross pro Jesse Mach (Rex Smith, The Pirates of Penzance) watches his best friend get murdered, he enters a deep, punishing depression that lasts about twelve minutes until Frank Fontana from Murphy Brown shows up and lets him ride a $3 million super-motorcycle that shoots lasers.
As Street Hawk, Mach unsubtly inserts himself into situations that require the attention of a man dressed in a full-body leather jumpsuit riding on a turbo motorcycle. There are more of these instances than you would expect. Specifically, thirteen.
This show was on for such a small window, I'm genuinely surprised that I caught bits of it as a child. I remembered the bike. And the laser. And that's about it. And now having watched the complete series...I pretty much remembered all the good parts.
Street Hawk isn't necessarily bad, it's just extraordinarily dated. I could easily see the show being the cat's meow for the kids into high-tech '80s awesomeness back in the day, but resurrecting it for a contemporary DVD release does the series few favors. Granted, it only ran for a handful of episodes so it wasn't given a chance to discover its footing, but the sampling that made it out of the gate brings an assortment of flat plotlines (Someone's messing around the horse stables! A rock star is involved in a murder case! The neighborhood watch helps Street Hawk battle gold thieves!) and a frustratingly limited arsenal of bad-ass super motorcycle action moves.
That's what it all comes down to, anyway -- the motorcycle. Who tuned into Airwolf to watch Stringfellow Hawk play another somber melody on his cello? Who watched Knight Rider for the Hoff's nuanced performance? Show us the attack vehicle porn!
Unfortunately, Street Hawk is hamstrung with some unimpressive perks:
It sounds awesome, but it wasn't used nearly enough. Plus the engineering didn't make any sense. The laser had two settings: one could stun a human being and the other could vaporize a ten-ton truck. Better be careful with the slider switch Mach, or you'll have a mountain of charred bystander corpses to turbo-jump over.
It's not called "turbo jump," but I'm too lazy to find out the real name. Basically, the motorcycle can propel itself up with thrusters and fly over whatever obstacle the production designer decided to stick in its way that episode.
Street Hawk can zoom up to 300 miles per hour, which on a motorcycle has to lead to some kind of violation of a human being's physiological nature, right? Like the G-Forces would turn Jesse's spleen to jelly or something.
To ensure that he doesn't bisect an unlucky homeless man while doing 300, Jesse wears a high-tech helmet that gives him zoom capabilities (1.5x magnification!) and some other sexy things that show up on a pea-soup green HUD.
The rubber bullets
Easily, the lamest of Street Hawk's weapons, Jesse's sidearm fires rubber balls at enemies. Terrible for defeating strong opponents, but handy on the playground!
One last thing. For an obscure show that ran for a baker's dozen, Street Hawk managed to land a large number of proto-stars: George Clooney, Dennis Franz, Joanna Kearns, and Christopher Lloyd. Clooney wins the Best Guest Star award, for his turn as Jesse's best friend whose idea of hard partying is air hockey, arm wrestling, and bumper cars.
The DVDs: dated full frame (with a nostalgic feel), 2.0 stereo and a nifty retrospective with Rex Smith and others talking about the series.
It wasn't around long, but Street Hawk still made an impression. A rather dopey impression, sure, but fun nonetheless.
Not Guilty. Just keep that particle beam on stun, okay?
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 690 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated