18 April 2001 | imdb-99
Republic Pictures Home Video Releases
Republic Pictures' five released VHS videos which represent eight different episodes are, I hope, the first of a complete series release. In recent years, "Streets" has been relegated to the pre-dawn graveyard of Indie and cable television stations, edited down to allow for more ghastly, no-budget local ads (trade schools, lawyers, and the like). Nowadays, low self-esteem broadcasters plaster their logos and moving promo messages along the bottom of the as if the program is an interruption of their commercials. So, what a treat to see these classic episodes without all of these distractions.
Although popular enough to run for five seasons, it never received the credit it deserved -- none of the hype of a "Charlie's Angels," for example. It's too bad that Michael Douglas didn't stick with the show. His performances in "Streets" and "The China Syndrome" are among his best. I'm crossing my fingers that he'll consider returning to a follow-up "Streets" later in his career, taking the senior detective's role that Malden held in the original.
"Streets" always had tight scripts, good plotting, and interesting characters -- even if they pandered to stereotypes a little. Way ahead of its time, gay themes are treated with surprising tact and good taste. In the episode "Harem," guest star Rick Nelson plays a gay pimp for female prostitutes (a novel idea in and of itself). The word "gay" is never used, but Steve (Douglas) simply tells Mike (Malden) that, "he's not exactly what you'd call a ladies man."
The two-hour special "Thrill Killers," is perhaps the most interesting release. Patty Duke Astin plays a not-too-thinly disguised Patty Hearst (a headline story at that time) who takes a whole jury hostage and begins killing them one by one. It's a relief not to have to wait a week to see part two.
The least interesting of these releases is "Dead Air," starring Larry Hagman as a radio talk show host (reminiscent of Bill Balance's Feminine Forum, an innovative show at the time). The studio scenes are completely unrealistic and the killer can be guessed before the end of Act 1.
Unfortunately, none of these eight releases includes an episode from "Streets" most famous director, Richard Donner ("The Omen" and "Lethal Weapon" series.) Maybe they'll release some of his episodes on DVD with a director's commentary? Also missing is what I consider to be the best episode of the series, "Mask of Death," which has an amazing performance by John Davidson as a female impersonator.