Retro T.V. Review: Hunter (1984)
Updated: Mar 25
Show Name: Hunter
Created by: Frank Lupo
Starring: Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer
Number of Seasons: 7
Number of Episodes: 153
Aired Dates: September 18, 1984 to April 26, 1991
Cop shows have been around for as long as most people can remember. They started getting really popular in the 1970's and 1980's. Hunter is one of those detective cop shows.
At the time, there were quite a few of these shows to choose from. You had Hart to Hart (starring Robert Wagner), Jake and the Fat Man (starring William Conrad and Joe Penny), and Simon and Simon (starring Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker), just to name a few.
You may be asking yourself, why did you pick this particular series? The answer is very easy. It was available to stream on Prime Video. I saw it and thought that it would be great to revisit an old show from the era. It did last quite a few years and it did have its fans at the time.
So let us dig into this buddy cop show and see if it still has some legs after all of these years.
The show stars Fred Dryer as Sgt. Rick Hunter. Dryer until this point was known as being a football player in the 1960's and 1970's. He played for the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams. He had a pretty good career until he left the sport in 1981.
Dryer's acting career did not start with Hunter. In fact, he had auditioned or the role of Sam Malone in the very popular show Cheers. In the end, he lost out to Ted Danson but did make some cameos on the show from time to time.
After having some bit parts in random shows, he landed the role that he would be remembered for, Hunter.
Although the show is called Hunter, it would not be as popular if Hunter, did not have a partner to help him solve crimes. She goes by the name of Sgt. Dee Dee McCall (played by Stefanie Kramer).
Stefanie Kramer went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts/West. She got her big break when she got the role of Dee Dee McCall on Hunter. She was on the initial run of the show for the first 6 seasons. She left after season 6 to pursue her singing and other acting projects.
The premise for Hunter is very simple. Rick Hunter is a homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. He is a hard-nosed detective that does not really like to follow proper protocol. At the beginning of the show (pilot), he is a detective that works mostly alone. One of the main reasons is that his father was a known mobsters and many of the cops in the precinct do not trust him enough to work with him. He is provided a partner and show regular Bernie Terwilliger (played by James Whitmore, Jr.). Hunter is not too keen on this.
Since Hunter knows that he will not get away with working alone, he looks for another hard nosed cop nicknamed "The Brass Cupcake". When these two first meet, Sgt. Dee Dee McCall is undercover as a prostitute. She is not too keen about working with Hunter either but they work out a deal. They talk to each other only for the minimum amount of time per day and they stay out of each other's business.
They both work to try to trap a murderer and arrest him. After working with each other they realize that it was not too bad and they decide to remain partners.
The rest of the show falls in the typical category of two cops catching other criminals in this hour long show.
Hunter Theme (Season 1)
That is some 1980's cheese right there. When you think of 1980's cop shows, you think of this theme and sequence. It has it all.
1) Cheesy Theme - Check
2) Stop action sequence with gun - Check
3) Showing the partners doing simultaneous things in unison - Check
4) Catch phrase - Check (cut from this video - "Works for me"). It is at the complete end.
5) Car sequences - Check
It is all there. The intro did change with the years but the theme song pretty much stayed the same.
The theme itself does not set itself apart from other shows. It is not bad but it is not great either.
I think that this is a fun show to watch even after all of these years. I know that this is not a show that people will flock to go watch. You either watch this show cause you remember watching it years ago, or it has a sense of nostalgia.
For me it was the latter. My brother always mentioned that he would watch this with my dad back in the day. I was always curious to see how this show was.
If you are looking for a deep show with great acting, this is not it. It is just a fun show to unwind and enjoy. There have been times, where there were some pretty serious themes. For example, Dee Dee McCall at one point has to deal with rape. Although, in today's shows, this theme is not taboo, back then this was pretty controversial. To this day, for fans of the show, this is one of the most remembered shows.
Rick Hunter for the lack of a better term is a poor man's Dirty Harry. He looks like him and acts like him. Putting both characters together, you would be hard pressed to find the difference.
I would think that this is what they were aiming with this show. Have a small screen version of Dirty Harry.
Hunter's partner, Dee Dee McCall is a tough cop, hence the name "The Brass Cupcake" but at the same time she is fragile as we see this numerous times during the show. She is tough but she does have a softer side. She likes taking baths and dressing in the latest fashions and so on. This part of her character I loved. However, I do have an issue as to how they use Dee Dee in some situations. Every time that she had to go undercover, she is either a prostitute or a ditsy blond. I understand why they did this but it made her character one dimensional and they could have used her in many different ways and I think this was a missed opportunity.
They did incorporate her love of singing in a few shows. She went undercover as an aspiring singer. She actually did sing during a few episodes. These were however few and far in between.
I think personally the first 3 or 4 seasons are pretty good. After that the quality goes down. This is not new as many shows go through the same progress. I think that the nail in the coffin for Hunter was when Stefanie Kramer left the show to pursue other interests. Like I mentioned previously, although the show is called Hunter, she is just as integral to the show as Fred Dryer. Not that her replacements were bad per say but it was not the same.
When doing research for this show I was surprised to learn that the show did not really end in 1991. In fact, there were attempts to bringing it back on NBC with Stefanie Kramer.
There were a few TV movies made after the show went off the air. There was a made for TV movie called The Return of Hunter: Everyone Walks in L.A. This aired in March, 1995. For this movie, Stefanie Kramer was not involved.
Then in 2002, there was a reunion made for TV movie called Hunter: Return to Justice. In this installment Stefanie Kramer reprises her role as Dee Dee McCall.
After the success in ratings with the 2002 movie, they tried to revive the show with a 2 hour pilot called Hunter: Back in Force. Then they created about 4 or 5 one hour shows to air. However, only 3 aired before the show was cancelled by NBC. The most common reasons that I could find is that it was due to creative differences with Fred Dryer and also the cost of the show was too high.
Unfortunately, I am unable to comment on the TV movies and revival showed as I was not able to find any of them on any streaming service. I would be curious to see how the show was and if it compared to the initial run.
All in all, this is a decent series. I am not sure that it is binge worthy but it will scratch your retro TV cop itch. The action sequences can be pretty good and the episodes are independent of each other. This means there is no real sequence that you need to watch the episodes. It is not like Game of Thrones or The Sopranos.
If you are interested, it is currently available to stream on Prime Video. Let us know what you think.