Paramount // 1976 // 1197 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // November 17th, 2012
A good detective knows to be suspicious when the Milkman shows up...in 1976!!!
There's real fear on the faces of homicide detectives in The Streets of San Francisco: Season 5, and for good reason: the Bay area's criminal element has decided to eliminate them. They've jerry-rigged Lieutenant Mike Stone's (Karl Malden, On The Waterfront) car with explosives, and pumped a bullet into the heart of Inspector Steve Keller (Michael Douglas, Wall Street).
Take cover, folks! The final twenty four episodes of this venerated Quinn Martin production finds the good guys falling like headpins in a PBA championship.
* "The Thrill Killers, Parts I & II"
* "Dead Or Alive"
* "The Drop"
* "No Minor Vices"
* "In Case Of Madness"
* "Till Death Do Us Part"
* "Hot Dog"
* "Castle Of Fear"
* "One Last Trick"
* "Monkey Is Back"
* "The Cannibals"
* "Who Killed Helen French?"
* "A Good Cop...But"
* "Hang Tough"
* "Innocent No More"
* "Once A Con"
* "Dead Lift"
* "Let's Pretend We're Strangers"
* "Time Out"
* "The Canine Collar"
Keller's misfortune is all the more tragic, coming as it does, just after the young detective makes the difficult decision to change careers, accepting a position teaching college-level Criminology. The truth of the matter is that Michael Douglas had outgrown not only his role on the series, but the small screen itself. He'd already collected his first Oscar as co-producer of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), and was well on the way to establishing himself as a big screen legend.
So, say hello to Stone's new partner, Inspector Dan Robbins (Richard Hatch, Battlestar Galactica). Don't let his handsome baby face fool you. Though just promoted to the rank of detective, Robbins has seen his fair share of homicidal behavior, serving a tour of duty in Vietnam before making his bones as a street cop. With no disrespect to the invaluable contribution Michael Douglas made to the series, it's a testament to the show's creators that Season Five isn't hampered by his replacement (Hatch is actually quite good), and the home stretch contains some of the series' very best episodes.
As always, spotting the celebrity guest stars provides a form of entertainment all its own. Among those sprinkled throughout the fifth and final season are: Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker), Susan Dey (The Partridge Family), Dick Van Patten (Eight Is Enough), Marion Ross (Happy Days), Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch), Mark Hamill (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), Gary Lockwood (The Lieutenant), Pernell Roberts (Bonanza)...and in the role of a murderously insecure body builder, a young Austrian who goes by the extremely marquee-unfriendly name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In keeping with tradition, Paramount has provided a remarkably unblemished...well, in this case, slightly blemished set of standard definition 1.33:1 full frame transfers, accompanied by a decent Dolby 2.0 Mono mix. English SDH subtitles are available, but the set contains no extras.
Ordinarily, I'm not too big on "bonus features" for TV on DVD from the 1970s -- which tend to be crackly bleached-out episode promos, or newly produced fluff pieces full of liver spots and self-congratulations -- but in this case, a golden opportunity was missed. Consider that during his tenure on The Streets of San Francisco, Richard Hatch appeared in the first two Battle of the Network Stars specials, playing for the ABC team; something Paramount might want to think about when putting together a Complete Series box set.
Retirement with a gold shield and full honors.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 1197 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Not Rated