Tonight after your late local news: Judge Brett Cullum gets lost in a neon blue sea of killer hookers and wronged mistresses, but has two attractive cops for back-up.
Sgt. Chris Lorenzo: Would you?
Mash together Baywatch and Miami Vice, then pretend Zalman King (Wild Orchid, Two Moon Junction) is directing, and you might get close to Silk Stalkings. The show created its own special version of campy badness in every naughty frame shown during it's staggering-high rated eight-year run on cable. Silk Stalkings was a cop show with two sexy leads: Sgt. Rita Lee Lance (Mitzi Kapture, Angel III: The Final Chapter) and Sgt. Chris Lorenzo (Rob Estes, Aces: Iron Eagle III). They were best friends who only investigated crimes that had a passionate angle. High society hookers in murderous rages, mad mistresses, white slavery rings, and phone sex scams all fell into their jurisdiction. Anchor Bay unleashes Silk Stalkings: The Complete Second Season for your guilty viewing pleasure. Are all you "golf" fans ready for one more round with "Sammy and Sammy" (a.k.a. Chris and Rita)?
The show itself is bad. Bad, bad, bad! But thanks to some good chemistry between the leads, and a goofy idea to center all the crimes around sex and society it became one of those brands of bad that turned out to be fun to watch. It had been several years since I viewed this show, and at first I was confused with all the golf references and the pet name of "Sam" being thrown around randomly. Seems in Silk Stalkings: The Complete First Season viewers found out Chris and Rita use golf as a euphemism for sex, and refer to each other as "Sam" because they both idolize a pro golfer named "Slamming" Sam Snead. Silk Stalkings is not a gritty cop show; it was never meant to be that. If you're expecting NYPD Blue you need to buy another set of discs, because Silk Stalkings: The Complete Second Season is all about pretty people mugging for the camera while certain parts of their body jiggle. It's more in the spirit of Charlie's Angels, and has a retro feel even for cable in the '90s. It's drunk off its own unique mix of sin, sex, and bad acting.
Facts of the Case
Twenty-two sexy episodes on six discs in three slim-line cases. Here's a breakdown of the shows, and what makes them so darn hot.
• "Social Call"
What's hot? Chris and Rita have to simulate sex for a camera in their room, and things get a little too real.
• "The Wild Card"
What's hot? A shirtless ex-wrestler leads a dozen girls wearing Spandex in stretching exercises.
• "In Too Deep"
What's hot? A sex scene with the show's trademark handcuffs between a crooked cop who likes to play rough with a drug lord.
• "Bad Blood"
What's hot? A sex scene with…handcuffs.
• "Hot Rocks"
What's hot? A jewelry show where the models wear the jewels strategically placed over their bikinis.
• "Scorpio Lover"
What's hot? A sex scene where the man wears leather gloves through the whole act.
What's hot? Murder in a men's locker room; lots of hot tub action. Is tennis ever sexy?
• "The Queen is Dead"
What's hot? The contestants are covered in lace, and armed only with spike heels.
• "Irreconcilable Differences"
What's hot? Girl on girl sensual massage, and an assistant gets hot and heavy in Solonge's office.
What's hot? A redhead named…Hayworth.
What's hot? A teen gets it on with his girlfriend's stepmother, and George makes a play for Rita.
• "Was it Good for You Too?"
What's hot? The killer calls in to a radio talk show, and gives good phone.
What's hot? Erin Gray shows off her new tan without any lines. Looking great for a woman in her forties, that Erin…
• "Kid Stuff"
What's hot? Two words—teenage hookers.
• "Night Games"
What's hot? Sex games, and some girl-on-girl action.
• "Meat Market"
What's hot? Rita goes undercover and is sold into sexual slavery for 1.3 million dollars, and Chris gets it on with Special Agent Shelby.
What's hot? A woman gets in a hot tub wearing a black robe.
• "Soul Kiss"
What's hot? Often cited by fans as a favorite episode, because Chris and Rita have to get closer than ever to each other to catch the killer.
• "Look the Other Way"
What's hot? The judge gets a lot of action on the side.
• "Star Signs"
What's hot? A lover's line to his woman: "I'm going to do you so good I'm going to wish I was you!"
What's hot? Phone sex, and a glimpse at some amateur porn.
• "Crime of Love"
What's hot? The opening sex scene was a well-choreographed bit of softcore porn that probably pushed TV censors right to the edge.
Silk Stalkings debuted in 1991 on two networks. In a unique deal, both CBS and USA Network financed the show and aired the episodes. For CBS it was "Crimetime After Primetime," and for USA it was "Steamy Sundays." CBS was just marking time for the arrival of David Letterman, and they ditched Silk Stalkings after this second season. USA held on to the show, and it ran for eight seasons as one of cable TV's highest-rated shows. Silk Stalkings was produced by Stephen J. Cannell, who developed shows like The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, Renegade, and The Commish. His concept was simply to throw a male/female buddy cop team into a sea of crimes of passion. Silk Stalkings doesn't break any new ground, other than pushing the boundaries of sex on broadcast television. It was a cheap show, and you can tell the production values were never high. It was shot in San Diego; the nominal Palm Beach setting never quite hid the fact that it really was Southern California. Many actors were "recycled" over and over again in the small cast. The sets often look like they are straight out of community theatre, complete with walls you fear may fall in on the leads any second. The wardrobe was also pretty cheap looking; even episodes featuring "high society" functions looked strangely like pimp-and-prostitute balls. Everyone dresses trashy, and there's plenty of skin coming at you in all directions and from both genders.
Silk Stalkings: The Complete Second Season finds the show in strong, sexy shape. The formula is down pat, and Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture have fully settled into their characters. They pull off their silly best-friend banter with ease, and their chemistry is undeniable. I was troubled that Ben Vereen is only in two episodes as Captain Hutch. He was going through some personal problems at the time, and had to start withdrawing from playing the recurring character. Cotton (played by John Byner) becomes a regular this season, as does the thickly accented Solonge (Marie Marshall). The show never works as a mystery, since we usually see who does the crime in the pre-credits sequence, and spend the whole show waiting for Chris and Rita to catch up. It's just silly, fluffy fun with little going on to mentally challenge you (except maybe navigating some staggering lapses in logic).
Chris and Rita's headquarters was revamped for the second season; it looks like a Disney World ride rather than a police station. It's all deep blue, black, and neon yellow. The show seems to take place in a fantasy world where two cops can use their good looks to get to the bottom of any case, and still not be laughed off the force. It's all candy coated exploitation, and about the most witty thing is the title of the show. Dialogue is groan-worthy for the most part, and hardly any of the plots make a lot of sense. Yet still, the show was a success due in large part to its sexy interludes and charming leads.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are some glaring problems with Silk Stalkings: The Complete Second Season. First up, two episodes are missing in action. "Baser Instincts" and "Good Time Charlie" were, for some strange reason, put on to the first season's collection even though they originally aired as part of Season Two in September of 1992. Not a terrible flaw, since you can always find them on the first set. Unforgivable, though, was the ten minutes of footage missing from the climax of "Dead Weight" on the set I received. I e-mailed Anchor Bay to see if maybe this was an oversight, but have heard nothing yet. The episode doesn't resolve the crime on my copy, and runs only thirty-seven minutes, compared with the rest of the season where the shows clock in at forty-seven minutes. I'm not sure if this is a widespread error, or a problem with my edition only. The set may be recalled because of this if all the sets have the same error. It wouldn't be the first time Anchor Bay had a problem with a release.
The transfers are a mixed bag as well. Some episodes are clear and crisp; others have a wash of grain that lasts through the entire running time. Colors are bright, but prone to bleeding at any moment. Plaids and prints often pixellate and shimmer for all they are worth. Blues and reds give the set fits—that's a shame, since they are the primary palette for Silk Stalkings. Edge enhancement is out of control in quite a few sequences. In the final analysis this is one of those "TV on DVD" collections that looks about as good as VHS copies you could tape off of USA when the series re-runs. But it is without commercials, and divided into four chapters in each episode—for whatever that's worth.
There is not much in the way of special features for Silk Stalkings: The Complete Second Season. We get interviews with Stephen J. Cannell and Mike Post (both separately and together). For some reason both men discuss their entire career, with only a minimal mention of Silk Stalkings. Interesting if you want to learn more about this producer and his Emmy winning composer. Not so great if you want to learn more about the show you just watched. Also included are some international clips of the show dubbed in Spanish and French—muy bueno and tres belle. It's like switching the language track on any number of DVDs in my collection. There's a photo gallery with many shots from other seasons of the show, and a DVD-ROM feature that lets you read a script for the episode "Crush." Sorry, but reading a Silk Stalkings script is not high on my to-do list, but maybe it could be interesting to see how it describes the sex scenes.
The packaging looks nice. It's all blue, and features a lot of photos scattered throughout (again not always from this season). There is a typo on the back claiming you get 23 episodes; I could only find 22. (Is there an Easter Egg somewhere? Doubtful.) The six discs are packed into three slip cases that all fit nicely into the cardboard box. Thank goodness the discs are single-sided!
If you're in the mood for something silly, sexy, and not too deep, Silk Stalkings: The Complete Second Season is "parfait." It's about as serious as a bowl of Jell-o, and often jiggles just as much. It's a bad show, but it has a certain campy charm that at least makes it entertaining. You've got to come at it from the right angle to really enjoy it. There's certainly an army of fans who do just that, and who are out there waiting for this release. Unfortunately, Anchor Bay isn't giving them much in the way of clean transfers or special features. At least you can get your Silk Stalkings fix any time of the day, rather than having to sneak a look after your parents go to bed. I guess that's progress in a way. I didn't mind spending time with Chris and Rita even if they were never thrown into realistic situations. Silk Stalkings is a mental margarita of the highest order, and it's the antidote to reality television.
Guilty as sin, and Silk Stalkings wouldn't have it any other way. Anyone up for a round of golf after the case adjourns?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Interviews with Producer/Creator Stephen J. Cannell and Composer Mike Post
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