“The man. The machine. STREETHAWK.”
I mentioned “Streethawk” (1985) a couple of weeks ago during that discussion of that 80’s fad where futuristic vehicles were the stars of TV shows. This ran for a single season and depicted the adventures of a police officer riding “an all-terrain attack motorcycle designed to fight urban crime.”
This was the very height of 1980’s cheese — or the very nadir, depending on how you look at it. (I was a pretty impressionable kid, though, and I loved “Streethawk.”) And star Rex Smith was not an ugly man, but always seemed to have dopey expression permanently plastered to his face.
Wasn’t there sort of special signature move that Smith’s character had, where he popped a wheelie and actually spun the bike like a dradle at the same time? So that the bullets or whatever it was firing would fly in every direction? (Because cops typically require indiscriminate suppressing fire in every direction in order to “fight urban crime.”) I could almost swear that was a recurring action sequence on this show.
“Airwolf” (1984 – 1987) and “Blue Thunder” (1984) were part of the decade’s fad of building TV shows around incredibly high-tech vehicles — sports cars, helicopters … even a preposterously conceived “attack motorcycle.” (Does anyone else remember 1985’s lamentable “Streethawk?”)
“Airwolf” was a decent techno-thriller produced by CBS. (It was revamped in its final year and relaunched on the USA Network.) It had great action sequences, a likable star (Jan-Michael Vincent) and seemed written to appeal to an older audience, with a fairly sophisticated and morally ambiguous overall story setup. And goddam if it didn’t have a kickass theme — even if it’s a bit of an earworm and leans heavily on the snythesizers. (It was an 80’s thing.) You can check it out in the first clip below.
“Blue Thunder” was ABC’s putative competitor, I suppose. It was an adaptation of what I remember to be a pretty respectable 1983 feature film with Roy Scheider, but the show only ran for a single season. I hardly remember it. (As you can see from the second clip below, though, it had a pretty interesting cast, including Dana Carvey, Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith.) I’ve never heard anyone bring up “Blue Thunder” nostalgically either. I do remember that my friend Keith was a fan — he and I got into a spirited debate once about which could defeat the other in an aerial battle.
If Hollywood wants to recycle everything from the 1980’s … how the hell did “Airwolf” escape its radar? (No pun intended.) I would love to hear Ki: Theory update that killer theme.