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The Streets of San Francisco: Season 1, Vol. 1
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One of the most popular detective shows of the '70s, this show made Michael Douglas a star. Twenty year veteran Det. Lt. Mike Stone (Malden) is partnered with young, college-educated Inspector Steve Keller (Douglas) who has a lot to learn about being a police detective on the streets of San Frnacisco.
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Regardless, "Streets" was a fine series and introduced Michael Douglas to many people. The real star here though is Karl Malden who LIVES in the skin of his character of Lt. Mike Stone. Actually shot on location in San Francisco, the show may have aged a bit but the performances, writing, guest stars and deft direction by a parade of TV veterans keeps the show entertaining despite the passage of time. I was always a fan of this show and while the passage of time has diminished many great shows, this wouldn't be one of them. Sure, it's not geared towards our "story arc" based audience but the episodic nature of the series works well for this series quite well.
The show looks pretty good here with nice colors and image quality. Some of the shots look a bit soft here and there but overall the show continues to look very good. The original mono audio sounds clear as well. I still love that propulsive opening theme music.
We don't get any featurettes or commentary tracks (a pity because it would be interesting to hear Douglas' assessment 30 plus years later of his performance and that incredible hair). We go get a nice vintage interview from 1972 with Douglas and Malden on the set of the show. We also get a "pilot presentation" reel.
Although lacking in new special features, the vintage ones are quite good for this set. Paramount/CBS unfortunately has taken the strategy that Fox has with many of their vintage shows and decided to release this (along with "The Untouchables") in half season sets which will be frustrating for fans of the show. I just hope it doesn't discourage too many fans from purchasing this set as they are no doubt looking at sales to gage the release of the rest of the seasons of the series.
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But - for "shot entirely on location in San Francisco" - you can't beat it. It's SF of old, before redevelopment, gentrification and all the rest. Still full of Southern Pacific railroad tracks embedded everywhere in the gritty parts of town. Enjoy!
Anyway, the series itself is better than I remember it, though I was a child when it aired, and the picture and sound quality on these DVDs are great.
Each episode is presented in four acts and an epilog, and Karl Malden and Michael Douglas have great onscreen chemistry together, one playing the older and wiser veteran of the SFPD (Malden), while the other plays the young hotshot college graduate detective (Douglas), who is a rookie in comparison. The story lines are riveting and the cinematography is fantastic!
When they say "The Streets of San Francisco" they mean it! There are plenty of action and outdoor shots all around the Bay Area and I think this is the best part of the show. I always enjoy seeing real street scenery versus a sound-stage, whenever possible, especially of older shows from the 60s-70s, and this show does a spectacular job of doing it.
Like New York City was the fifth character in Sex and the City: The Complete Series (Collector's Gift Set), Karl Malden acknowledges that San Francisco is the third character in THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO in the bonus Archerd interview.
*** BONUS FEATURES ***
ARMY ARCHERD INTERVIEW-- 03:46-minutes -- interview conducted back then
The celebrity reporter interviews both Malden and Douglas about the show and gives the viewer insight on who these characters are.
PILOT PRESENTATION -- 08:45-minutes
This is an interesting teaser intro for the pilot with voice-over.
If you enjoy detective shows and seeing great shots of cities as they used to be, you can't go wrong with this set. Even the theme song is great! I can't help shaking my booty when I hear it.
I am particularly fond of one episode in this set, "The Bullet," a episode about a blackmailed professor who is shot and refuses to have the bullet extracted for fear of adverse publicity and loss of his tenure. The college campus is none other than my alma mater, the University of San Francisco. (In another season, historic Ralston Hall in Belmont, CA, on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University where I also attended, served as the setting for yet another episode of "Streets.")
The series served a springboard for Academy Award winner Douglas' foray into motion pictures. The series would enjoy a tremendous long run with Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galatica) taking over Douglas' role. But the series quickly fizzled as clearly the chemistry between Malden and Douglas was absent.
Douglas would leave the series to star in two very important movies that would launch his film career: "Coma" (1978) and following that, "The China Syndrome" with Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda.
This box set would easily earn 5 stars had CBS DVD been more generous and released all of season one, and not just the first 16 episodes and really some very paltry extras: a promo for the pilot episode and a pretty useless Army Archerd (who was he anyway?) interview--obviously a PR piece for Quinn Martin. A commentary with Michael Douglas would have been most welcome and expected.
Only complaint, like others, is the way the seasons are being sold. Warner is trying to squeeze as much money out of buyers as they can by parsing them out by discs, instead of selling complete dvd collections of the series
Karl Malden (Inspector Stone) plays the mentor & uncle-type figure to the young & handsome "Inspector Keller" played by Michael Douglas. Both play off each beautifully & rarely clash despite their age & generational differences. Many Hollywood stars (either already established or just being discovered) appeared on the series.
Thank you for providing me with hours of pleasure of The Streets of San Francisco. When later seasons become available I'll be back to get them too!