Big hair, big gunfights, big stunts, yup it’s time to review an ’80s action show. While not as overtly ’80s in tone as say, Miami Vice, Hunter will definitely scratch that nostalgia itch. While much grittier in the first and second season; Hunter definitely keeps it’s tongue firmly in cheek and gleefully sends up action movie and cop show clichés as often as it gives into them.
Hunter also differs in the dynamic between the leads, half buddy cop show, half romance. Hunter and McCall definitely have chemistry and the show spent several seasons doing everything to keep it from turning into a housekeeping sit-com.
Detective Rick Hunter (Former NFL great Fred Dryer) is a cop with a serious attitude problem. He has more shootouts and auto accidents on his record than any other officer in the LAPD. He also has problems playing well with others. When his boss demands that he work with a partner, Hunter tries to find a way to get around the order.
Enter Detective DeeDee McCall (Stepfanie Kramer) an officer with attitude problems who also prefers to work solo.
The two hatch a plan to log out as a unit and then go their separate ways and pursue their own leads and cases. Naturally this doesn’t always happen and the two of them clash spectacularly, especially in the first season. Hunter prefers to shoot first and ask questions later, he’s also a very good detective with a talent for solving grisly murders. McCall works undercover in a vice style role, frequently working plain clothes and running down street crimes. She has a large network of informants that help her.
Typical day for unit L-56
The two of them often find themselves working the same case from different angles and start to realize that their different skill sets come in handy. Part of the fun of the early seasons is watching them try to insert themselves into big cases or try to get one over on their superiors without getting in trouble.
Rick Hunter’s opinion of authority
Their bosses naturally resent the independent pair and frequently assign them make work, running down misdemeanor property crimes or going through mugshot books. Naturally this just makes them more rebellious.
Later on in the series there is much less antagonism and the gunfights and car chases are toned down considerably to appease the critics of the time who were protesting the level of violence in the show.
While very much of its time; Hunter helped pave the way for more modern police shows. Especially in the first few seasons, the show didn’t pull punches showing the brutality of the streets, the mistreatment of the homeless and mentally ill and the corrosive effects of drugs.
It also showed the danger and emotional stress that police endure and the antagonism between them, citizens and the press. Hunter can always be relied on for a sardonic comment about civilians, politicians, the press or anyone else in his way.
The show also portrayed the character of McCall as a far more capable character than would be shown in most police shows from the era. She frequently has her own storylines and often shows up Hunter, frequently rescuing him or cracking a case before he can.
She can take care of herself
Even with the seriousness the show displayed, it always has a good natured level of humor to counter balance the drama and remains very watchable.
Unfortunately, the later seasons showed a drop in quality with the departure of Stepfanie Kramer. None of the subsequent actresses introduced were able to replicate the on-screen charisma of Dryer and Kramer and the show was canceled in 1991. After the shows cancellation, Kramer and Dryer starred in several TV Movies that continued the Hunter storyline.
Verdict: 3 Gavels out of 5
Early seasons are a very watchable action police drama. Watch the two leads evolve from barely tolerating each other to best friends. Later episodes lost that dynamic and suffer for it.