Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Man, The Machine...Street Hawk!


Knight Rider on a motorcycle is the best way to described the short-lived 1985 television show Street Hawk. Lasting just one season of 13 episodes, most people I've talked to vaguely remember it. For me, it's a very clear picture of sitting in front of the TV and enjoying a great show with my dad. Recently that image came full circle as I've been reliving the show with my two boys. They've really enjoyed watching it, which has furthermore entrenched this show into my mind. Set in the streets of LA, a former motorcycle cop and a government agent team up on a top secret mission to fight crime using a $3 million motorcycle.

Street Hawk starred Rex Smith, a teen idol in the late 70s/early 80s. He plays Jesse Mock, a motorcycle cop whose partner is killed and is also injured while motorcross racing in the pilot episode. After being forced to work in the public relations department, Mock accepts an offer from government agent Norman Tuttle to ride Street Hawk and avenge his partner's death. Actor Joe Regalbuto plays Tuttle, the engineer and designer of the Street Hawk motorcycle. He is also the systems operator and guides Mock during his missions. Beyond Street Hawk, Rex Smith is also a stage actor and singer, who had a top ten single in 1979 titled "You Take My Breathe Away." He also played Matt Murdock aka Daredevil in the 1989 TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and has guest starred in several TV shows. You'll recognize Joe Regalbuto as Frank Fontana from the long running sit-com Murphy Brown. He has also made the TV circuit as a guest actor in the last several years.

The real star of the show was the Street Hawk motorcycle, a converted Honda dirt bike. There were a total of 15 bikes made for the show using different Honda models. Features of this "all-terrain attack motorcycle" included a laser that appeared from a compartment behind the headlight, "hyperthrust" speed up to 300 MPH, machines guns, and a rocket launcher. A vertical lift system also helped launch the bike over obstacles, much like K.I.T.T.'s turbo boost in Knight Rider. Mock's helmet also featured a zoom-in camera and a recording capability that could be played back at the command center.

As previously mentioned, I've recently watched the series and was surprised it held up fairly well over time (No less than Knight Rider or Airwolf.) Some great guest actors appear in the series including Christopher Lloyd, George Clooney, Joanna Kerns, and Dennis Franz. Much to my boys dismay, there were not many toys or collectibles released. Various re-branded figure and bike toys were released in India, Brazil, and the UK. Models were produced based on the bike and also Jessie Mock's car, a yellow and black 1969 Ford Mustang. I was surprised to find that Street Hawk was developed into a video game for ZX Spectrum in 1986. A series of four novels were also written in 1985. Shout Factory has released the complete series on a 4-disc DVD collection which includes the original pilot episode, a never-before-seen pilot featuring different Street Hawk firepower, a brand-new documentary featuring Rex Smith, Joe Regalbuto and Jeannie Wilson, plus photo galleries and an 8-page collector’s book. The discs are also available through Netflix. If you were a fan of the "super vehicle" shows of the 80s, I'd highly recommend adding Street Hawk to your collection!

Many thanks to StreetHawkOnline.comGGgames.se, and Wikipedia for show/actor info!