Knight Rider laid down a fairly simple formula: hunk + cutting-edge vehicle = action TV, and the concept looked set to run on every form of transport. Helidrama Airwolf made a hit out of it, but the concept hit the skids with this oddly-adored computerised-motorcycle cheese-o-rama. Today, it’s hard to see how this 13-episode series garnered such long-term affection.
“This is Jesse Mach,” growls the voice of trailer-man. “An ex-motorcycle cop injured in the line of duty [which he wasn’t]. Now a police troubleshooter [they can’t make up their minds what he does], he’s been recruited for a top-secret government mission, to ride... STREET HAWK – an all-terrain attack motorcycle designed to fight urban crime... Goes faster than 300 mph...” Blah blah blah.
Former teen idol Rex Smith is no Hoff, although Joe Regalbuto’s nerdy mix of both Devon and KITT is the show’s biggest asset. There’s also an undeniable nostalgia rush accompanying the wicked-cool ’80s titles but the pilot takes 45 minutes just to get Jesse on the damn bike, where he pulls off an undeniably sharp look. Shame, then, that the bike bizarrely goes through at least three different incarnations as we follow his sub-TJ Hooker feats...
Those cracking open this set will be delighted to see a 40-minute Making Of, because it’s notoriously difficult to get any info on the production. Only a few minutes in, though, it becomes clear that what’s on offer is somewhat cringesome. For one, there’s too much focus on second-episode guest star George Clooney, and Smith often appears deluded/desperate, especially when he appeals direct to camera: “If anybody has a Street Hawk bike or knows how to get one, contact RexSmith.com.” As you begin to wish you’d left your childhood memories untainted, Smith makes it clear that it’s your fault... “In England they never let go,” he says, with a disturbing twinkle in his eye.
The overall sense of deflation is summed up by the pilot, a low-quality version whose only change is to replace the bike’s red laser with a blue lightning effect. Watch that, then stop before those childhood warm fuzzies disappear.
Everything you remember as being ‘cooo-el!’ is in the title sequence.