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 (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, August 20

Bob's Burgers - "Ain't Miss Debatin" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Tina is recruited by the debate team, she finds unexpected success and an even more unexpected relationship. Meanwhile, Louise and Gene convince their parents to help fund a stop-motion movie focusing on a surprising subject matter.

The Simpsons - "Havana Wild Weekend" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When the Retirement Castle and the V.A. Hospital can’t solve Grampa’s health issues, the Simpsons decide to take a family trip to Cuba to get him cheap medical care.

Family Guy - "The Peter Principal" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Peter becomes the temporary principal at the high school, and Meg uses his new power to get even with her bullies. Meanwhile, Brian and Stewie open a bed & breakfast that quickly turns into a brothel.

The Simpsons - "Dad Behavior" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer finds a new app that makes his life much easier and outsources his father-son bonding. Meanwhile, Grampa finds that he is about to be a father again.

Family Guy - "Dearly Deported" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Chris’ Mexican girlfriend, Isabella, gets deported, he volunteers to take care of her twin babies. After learning that Isabella can’t come back to the U.S., the Griffins go to Mexico to return her children.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 14)

Friday, August 18

  • T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - Watch T.J. on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Billy Eichner (Difficult People) - Billy is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/30 Rock) - Jane appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff visits LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jussie Smollett (On Our Own) - Jussie is a guest on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen is a guest on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Jason appears on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Brandy (Moesha/The Game/Thea) - Brandy talks about Broadway's Chicago on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi performs on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Nat Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band) - Nat talks about Leap and Home Again on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Geena Davis (Buffalo Bill/The Geena Davis Show) - Geena talks about Marjorie Prime on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.