From The Lone Ranger to Zorro to Batman and The Green Hornet, ABC has been known as the network home of these masked crusaders for justice. So, it is no surprise that the urban legend known as Street Hawk felt right when it debuted on Friday, January 4, 1985.
Starring 1970s teen idol Rex Smith, Street Hawk followed hotshot ex-motorcycle cop Jesse Mach (Smith), who was injured in the line of duty that led to the death of his partner and best friend. Now working in public relations as a police troubleshooter. he’s been recruited to become the test pilot for a covert government project entitled Street Hawk. Created and engineered by agent Norman Tuttle (Murphy Brown‘s Joe Regalbuto), the purpose of Street Hawk is to fight crime, corruption and injustice with capabilities of going up to 300 miles, and is loaded with immense firepower.
Only Norman knows Jesse’s dual identity, as this odd couple becomes an unlikely dynamic duo.
With NBC’s family-oriented Knight Rider and CBS’s mature, adult (later somewhat light-hearted) Airwolf, Street Hawk was right in the middle: completing the “super-vehicle” trinity, targeting the MTV generation thanks to the music of Tangerine Dream. Though ABC hold its own against Michael Knight and KITT with Hardcastle & McCormick and the Coyote X, the network lost the helicopter battle the previous year when Airwolf – aka the Lady – proved itself as the Mach-1 plus helicopter that kicked Blue Thunder’s butt. (By the way, the 11-episode Blue Thunder is based on the hit 1983 film that starred the late Roy Scheider).
Not only is Street Hawk dubbed “Knight Rider on a motorcycle”, but the show is also known for an early appearance of future Oscar-winning superstar George Clooney, who guest-starred in the second episode. Entitled “A Second Self”, it features Clooney playing an old friend of Jesse’s. Sadly, he’s been hired by the bad guys to kill Street Hawk, the superhero alter-ego of his friend.
Despite its valiant promise and potential, Street Hawk only lasted 13 episodes, but grew a cult and devoted following over the years thanks to reruns on USA Network back in the early 1990s, a Facebook page, and a DVD of the entire series with interviews from the cast and more. Street Hawk‘s got everything that you love about television in the 1980s.
“The man … The machine … STREET HAWK”