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RUNNING TIME: 672 Minutes
“It’s Bullet meets Karl Malden’s huge schnozz and Michael Douglas’ raging hard-on!”
Karl Malden, Michael Douglas
When it comes to tough law enforcement, look no further than Detectives Stone and Keller! These two get the bad guys, every time, on the streets…of San Francisco!
I swear, it’s like I was born to write promos for 70s TV shows.
This is one of the most entertaining mediocre shows I’ve ever seen. I had a good time watching this set “against all odds,” to quote the Bard. It’s not proper review etiquette to make a list, but fuck it—here’s a list of all the mediocre things about The Streets of San Francisco.
1. The partnership between Karl Malden’s Mike Stone and Michael Douglas’ Steve Keller. I love these two actors something fierce, and it’s a trip to see Douglas looking so young. But man, they do not work as partners as all! Yeah, I get the generation clash that’s supposed to exist, but there’s no chemistry between the two men at all. Sometimes it’s like a contest to see who can be more taciturn.
2. The restrictions of the format. Part of the reasons I think Stone and Keller never click is because this is, by and large, a serial show to its very core; we get a new case every episode. I understand it was the way of times to do this, but the Hill Street Blues days of multi-episode story arcs did wonders for character development there, and it could’ve here. Also, long, complex story arcs make me feel like I’ve accomplished something by following along. That’s why me and The Wire get along so well.
3. Speaking of format, God bless Quinn Martin. The narration and “act” breaks (as if this was fucking King Lear) were silly on Barnaby Jones, and they’re silly here.
4. When this show was first conceived, it was meant to be the TV version of Bullet, and I think it succeeds, provided if you equate “success” with “remove everything that made that movie so cool save the location.”
5. Disc-wise, this isn’t even the whole first season! Paramount’s taken to releasing season sets in volumes, and this is volume two. The format dictates that I haven’t missed much, but as a completist, I find the decision to split to be dubious at best. First Grindhouse, then an all-but-forgotten cop show from the ‘70s. What’s next?
I readily admit that the show is not great, but I had a pretty great time watching it nonetheless. The obvious reasons are for the cheese factors inherent: this show is mired in ‘70s culture, with Douglas’ hair and corturoy jacket my two favorite examples. The San Francisco locale must be given credit too, although I thought it also worked in a non-ironic way; this show was shot on-location and feels it, and it helps add some authenticity that I surely didn’t expect, given the relative cheesiness of the rest of the show. You also get the sense that the writers and producers were willing to throw any type of conflict and Stone and Keller, ludicrousness be damned. Over thirteen episodes, we get illegal alien smugglers, personable assassins, vengeful, Karl Malden-hating whack jobs, the plight of the homeless, and the Cobra street gang. It’s all very silly, it takes itself too seriously, and it’s predictable as fuck. And I loved it. Getting lost in the tropes of the decade and the genre was as comforting as watching old reruns of Scooby Doo—that feeling that you can zone out and let it all wash over you.
Yep, this wasn’t a great TV show. It wasn’t even a great cop TV show. I admit that. But I enjoyed it all the same.
All 13 episodes are presented in their original full-frame format, and all look really sharp. Either they aged well, or someone took the time to do a little clean up. Good stuff. Sound’s basic mono, and it’s serviceable. The case is two slim-lines with a cover showcasing Malden, Douglas, and Malden’s epic nose.
Easy special feature review: there are none.
The Streets of San Francisco isn’t a good show, but I enjoyed watching it a good deal. The discs look great and sound good; the lack of any special features and the incompleteness of the set are unfortnate, though.