Saturday, February 13, 2010
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:
1. "Pilot" (95:46)
2. "Hard Contact" (48:32)
3. "The Hot Grounder" (48:03)
4. "A Long Way From L.A." (46:57)
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)
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)
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
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Thursday, December 8
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