Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Street Hawk -- A Man Named Mach and his Magic Motorbike

Rex Smith rides Street Hawk
Like The Phoenix from a few weeks ago, Street Hawk is a series whose level of awareness and recognition is completely disproportionate with how long it actually ran. Premiering on ABC in January of 1984, Street Hawk lasted a mere thirteen episodes, and yet you can still find people who speak wistfully of the short-lived skein. In fact, just like The Phoenix, I've gotten several e-mails requesting a Nostalgia Theater spotlight on the show, so here we go.

Obviously aiming to capitalize on NBC's success a few seasons prior with Knight Rider, Street Hawk (also produced by Universal) pretty much lifted that show's format wholesale, teaming a lone hero with a souped-up super vehicle, resulting in a spate of TV-safe adventures. The saga sell below lays out the mission statement pretty thoroughly, but I especially love the fact that our hero (played with earnest charm by Rex Smith) has the totally unlikely/entirely appropriate name Jesse Mach. Here's the intro (plus exposition by go-to voiceover guy Ernie Anderson):

(That theme tune is by '80s New Age band Tangerine Dream, FYI. And you're humming it right now. I know you are.)

Sadly, the titular vehicle couldn't talk a la KITT, so we were robbed of the My Dinner With Andre-esque conversations that David Hasselhoff had with William Daniels, but that's okay, because Jesse could still exchange banter with perpetually frustrated technician Norman Tuttle (Joe Regalbuto) back at HQ. As I said, Street Hawk came and went in early '84, but it's still retained enough nostalgic pull with auds that Shout! Factory put it out on DVD a few years back. I'd love to tell you it holds up, but I honestly couldn't make it past the pilot. Ironically enough, it was just too slow.

(And with Knight Rider and Street Hawk out of the way, you know it's only a matter of time until Airwolf gets the Nostalgia Theater treatment...)

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