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Not as good as you might remember it
on 23 January 2011
I was a big fan of Street Hawk as a kid, but the single 13-episode series doesn't stand the test of time 25 years later. In fact, it's dated even compared to other 80s shows like Knight Rider or Airwolf.
Looking at it now, the funniest thing (or the worst thing, depending on how you look at it) is that Street Hawk is just a bike with a gun on it. Pretty much all of the gadgets which may have seemed futuristic in 1985 are just ordinary now- for example the bike's navigation system which is a little bit like a modern sat nav but not as good. The bike doesn't talk, and it doesn't have much by the way of flashing lights. It's not all that fast- though the opening narration says it goes 300mph the stunt riders were clearly never pushing 70. It's not entirely bulletproof (as seen in episode 11), and it even breaks down (episode 13).
The stories are mostly typical, action formula stuff, though the writing gets better as the series progresses. The acting is mostly quite hammy, especially from lead guy Rex Smith, though Joe Regalbuto is consistently good as the nerdy sidekick Norman. There's a high standard of novelty guest star in the series, including a before-he-was-famous George Clooney with a permed mullet, Bianca Jagger, and quite a few actors who would later pop up in Star Trek.
The music stands out as excellent. The main theme and most of the incidental music is by Tangerine Dream, whose near-trademark sounds fit perfectly with the rolling drama. The main theme itself is great and definitely one of the highlights.
DVD-wise, there's a decent range of extras on disc 4- a 40-minute long documentary based on in-depth 2009 interviews with 3 main cast members (Rex Smith, Joe Regalbuto, and Jeannie Wilson) and a large collection of photos in various categories- publicity shots, behind the scenes, and so on. Possibly the most disappointing extra is the "unbroadcasted pilot" [sic] which turns out to be an early edit of episode 1 with some minor differences, most noticably that the bike's laser effect is different, so not really a proper "lost episode". The transfer of all the episodes is mostly top quality though there's the occasional bit of dropout, to be expected as it's probably been created from twenty-year-old tapes.
If Street Hawk had reached a second series maybe it could have been as famous and popular as some of thee other shows from around the same time, but as it is, the small cult fanbase of Street Hawk is deluding themselves a bit...
If you're in your 30s and want a bit of TV nostalgia, give it a try, but if you're looking to rediscover a lost gem you might be disappointed.