Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blog DVD Review: Hunter - The Complete First Season

Welcome to our weekly Saturday Blog DVD Review and it's our first one of 2010. Today we take a look at Mill Creek's Hunter - The Complete First Season. I know this series came out on DVD from Anchor Bay, but now Mill Creek is re-releasing the series. Hunter was a cop show starring Fred Dryer as "Sgt. Rick Hunter" and Stepfanie Kramer as "Sgt. Dee Dee McCall," which ran on NBC from 1984 to 1991. They were at the LAPD and the show comes from Stephen J. Cannell. See skees53's Blog DVD Review of Hunter - The Complete First Season:

Hunter - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek, $14.99) brings all 19 episodes of the hit action detective series from the 80s to DVD...again. The series stars Fred Dryer as LAPD detective Rick Hunter, a renegade cop who is always willing to break the rules and use unorthodox methods to bust the bad guys. He comes from a family connected to the mob, but that doesn't stop him from doing his job at all. His partner, Dee Dee McCall (Stepfanie Kramer) is somewhat more level headed, though she still makes the perfect match for Hunter both on the beat and (seemingly) romantically. The series premiered in 1984 on NBC and struggled to make it through just one season, but eventually became a hit for NBC and continued for a total of seven seasons. This is the second time that the first season has been released on DVD; it was previously released by Anchor Bay, and now, Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing it again as a value priced selection.

The first season of the series is perhaps one of the darker and grittier seasons of the series, with tons of violence and the characters never being afraid to kill a suspect if they felt a need to do so. The first season also used a lot of music, similar to the series Miami Vice (which it initially was paired with on the NBC lineup). Unfortunately, the music is missing in this set, and as far as I can tell, it seems that all of the original music within the episodes has been replaced. This is sadly a common practice among series produced by Stephen J. Cannell Productions released on DVD, and there isn't really anything that any fan can do about it, it seems. The news about the music replacements gets worse, though. The choices for the music replacement in the scenes are awful, including one episode where there is a song that sounds identical to a hit song by the musician Aaliyah and another episode where there is a song that sounds like something on a modern country music radio station. These songs (and others in the DVD set) are not really fitting for a series that takes place in the 80s.

The series begins with the double length "Pilot," where Joanna Kerns plays a psychiatrist who is evaluating another psychiatrist (played by Brian Dennehy), but the relationship may be on the verge of turning lethal unless Hunter and McCall prevent it. In "The Hot Grounder," the police commissioner's wife is killed and the chief is the prime suspect--but Hunter is determined to clear the chief by any means possible. Hunter and McCall have to deal with a corrupt small town sheriff in "A Long Way From L.A." Hunter spends some time behind bars and is a murder suspect when a suspect that he had contempt for ends up being shot with his gun in "Pen Pals." Hunter and McCall deal with a bounty hunter who is taking things way too far with his catches in "Dead or Alive."
Ed O'Neill plays a parole officer who really has gone crazy and may even be a murderer in "The Garbage Man." A cocaine dealer is being extradited from New York City in the two-part episode "The Snow Queen," but somehow escapes along the way. Sometimes the drug dealers are the victims, as seen in "The Beach Boy," where suppliers are retaliating against drug dealers refusing to deal with them. Hunter and McCall (as usual) violate their orders to investigate some muggings and investigate a homicide on their own in "Guilty." Hunter and McCall investigate a series of murders with a pattern in "The Last Kill." In "Fire Man," a TV news crew just keeps getting in the way of an investigation by Hunter and McCall.

The menus are very basic, but also nicely done, with the theme song playing on the main menu and options of Play All and Episode Select. The main menu has the same snapshot of Hunter as seen on the cover, but with a different background. When you go to Episode Select, it takes you to a menu that lists all of the episodes, where the theme song continues to play. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.

The set comes in the same type of packaging as many other series from Mill Creek, and that isn't a good thing. Basically, it has a double thick keep-case with four black paper sleeves inside. Paper sleeves have to be about the worst way ever to package a DVD set, and I have no clue why they insist upon doing this. The cover art has a shot of Hunter with the Los Angeles skyline in his background, and the back of the case has several snapshots from the episodes as well as basic series information. The disc artwork is the same on each disc, with a photo of Hunter and McCall. Each disc has the episode titles contained on the disc printed on the disc. There are no other episode lists contained within the set. Disc 1 contains four episodes (including the double length pilot), while each of the other discs contain five episodes.

Even though all of the music within the episodes has been replaced, it appears that other than that, the episodes are largely unedited, although one episode (part 1 of "Snow Queen") seems suspicious, running at 44:10. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Pilot" (95:46)
2. "Hard Contact" (48:32)
3. "The Hot Grounder" (48:03)
4. "A Long Way From L.A." (46:57)

Disc 2:
5. "Legacy" (45:42)
6. "Flight on a Dead Pigeon" (47:07)
7. "Pen Pals" (49:54)
8. "Dead or Alive" (47:42)
9. "High Bleacher Man" (46:10)

Disc 3:
10. "The Shooter" (46:44)
11. "The Garbage Man" (48:04)
12. "The Avenging Angel" (48:18)
13. "The Snow Queen, Part 1" (44:10)
14. "The Snow Queen, Part 2" (47:56)

Disc 4:
15. "The Beach Boy" (46:38)
16. "Guilty" (47:20)
17. "The Last Kill" (48:14)
18. "Fire Man" (48:50)
19. "Sniper" (48:24)

There are no special features on the set, and honestly, at $14.99, I wouldn't really expect to see any.

Despite the problems with this set, it isn't a bad deal at all for the entertainment that you get from the series. I wouldn't pay $40 or $50 for a set with as many problems as this one, but the price on this one is appropriate for what you are getting--mostly complete episodes with all of the music in the episodes replaced. It really would be nice to see something besides the paper sleeves used for the packaging next time, though. If you can't wait to see the second season, you don't even have to wait. As I recently discovered, Target is already selling the second season in a double pack with the first season at their stores nationwide, at the same price as one season. So there are definitely good deals to be found for this show on DVD, and the only thing that may stop some fans is the extensive music replacement. I honestly think that the series is enjoyable enough that many people can get past it, especially at the value of the set.

-- Reviewed by skees53
(3/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Hunter TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January)

American Dad! - Volume 11 Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One

12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Saturday, January 21

The Thundermans - "Better Off Wed" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The kids learn that Dr. Colosso ruined their parents' wedding years earlier, and want to recreate Hank & Barb's dream day as their anniversary gift. However, Dr. Colosso remains a threat, and they must keep their plans a secret.

Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn - "Keeping Up with the Quadashians" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After binge watching their favorite reality TV show, the Quads decide their lives are every bit as "reality TV" worthy, and decide to make a show of their own. Guest Stars: Maddie Ziegler, Mackenzie Ziegler

School of Rock - "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Tomika and Zack work on a love song together, leading to a moment that will change their friendship forever. Summer and Lawrence hang out together for the first time, and Freddy helps Mr. Finn with a problem.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 23)

Saturday, January 21

  • Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show/Cosby) - Phylicia will be featured on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 10pm ET/PT on OWN.
Sunday, January 22
  • NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - Catch NeNe on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, January 23
  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Watch Allison on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • William Shatner ($h*! My Dad Says) and Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Arrested Development/Out of Practice) - William and Henry are guests on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Jade Catta-Preta (Manhattan Love Story) - Jade is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Wendi McClendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Tika Sumpter (The Game) - Tika appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) - Justina will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry and Rebecca Romjin talk about Love Locks on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. Jerry will also be on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT and on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Retta (Parks and Recreation) - Retta talks about Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.