Streets of San Francisco General Discussion

by ringfire211 » Sat May 13, 2017 10:27 pm

STREETS OF SAN FRAN was a solid 70s cop show. Just off the top of my head some of my favorites from each season:

Season 1
The First Day of Forever - James Olson as a man obsessed with cleaning up the city by killing prostitutes.
Tower Beyond Tragedy - Edward Mulhare and Stefanie Powers in a story about a man who is obsessed with a woman because she reminds him of a woman he loved and killed.
Act of Duty - Michael Burns plays a serial rapist and Brenda Vaccaro is the undercover cop recruited as bait to trap him. Directed by Lawrence Dobkin.
Beyond Vengeance - Joe Don Baker as a vengeful ex-con rapist who's out of prison and seeking revenge on Mike Stone.

Season 2
For the Love of God - Peter Strauss as a psycho killing priests.
Shield of Honor - Mariette Hartley as a female cop and suspect in a possible leak in the police department.
Commitment - Stone is framed for bribery. Directed by Richard Donner.
Blockade - Don Stroud as a serial rapist on the loose.

Season 3
Target: Red - Bill Bixby as a mentally unstable assassin out to kill a visiting Chinese communist dignitary.
Mask of Death - John Davidson as a schizophrenic male/female performer who's a psycho killer. A fan favorite!
Flags of Terror - domestic terrorists take people, including Keller, hostage.
License to Kill - Murray Hamilton as Stone's former partner who's out for revenge against a man who killed his son.
River of Fear - in a story which hearkens back to the classic Robert Mitchum film THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, Peter Haskell plays a man out of prison who masquerades as a doctor and gets close to 2 kids in order to find hidden loot.
Labyrinth - a hunt for mobsters inside a hotel.

Season 4
School of Fear - Maurice Evans as a teacher who kidnaps troublesome students in an attempt to reform them.
Most Likely to Succeed - Kristoffer Tabori as a student who under pressure to get into Harvard kills his teacher who was about to give him a failing grade.
Police Buff - Bill Bixby as a police wannabe who turns vigilante in order to "help" the cops fight crime.
Judgment Day - Michael Burns as a psycho killing judges.

Season 5
The Drop - Eugene Roche as a kidnapper of the son (Parker Stevenson) of a wealthy businessman (Dabney Coleman).
Dead Lift - ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER! Enough said.
Breakup - Pernell Roberts as a man on the edge who thinks he killed a lawyer.
Time Out - Cliff Gorman as a prison guard trying to recapture some escapees.

by Mr. Mike » Sun May 14, 2017 7:47 am

Using keywords from your message above, I think the greatest SOSF episode of all time would involve Arnold Schwarzenegger starring as a mentally unstable schizophrenic obsessed psycho serial rapist who is pissed off at Stone!

by ringfire211 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:24 am

Lol, yes that would be an epic tale!! It would also give Ah-nuld an opportunity to stretch his acting chops.

Zo you vant me to be dis biiiig strrrrrong rapist crrazy man??? Und I have schizophrenia toooo and I'm mental tooo? Vow!!! Dat ees so kewl!!! Arrrghhahhaha!! Totally kewl man!! Und I hate Stone's guts too because he put me away in da slammer??!! Awesome!!! Und now I vant to keel him so baaaad and just totally put all dis pain on him, like cut off his arms and head and gouge his eyes out!! Arrrghahahahha!!!! Dat ees sooooo kewl!!!!! Und I have dees totally big muscles toooo!!! Ya!! Argagagahaggaahaa!!!

by John Chergi » Mon May 15, 2017 3:36 pm

I'm very impressed by your Streets Of San Francisco list. Shield Of Honor sure was an excellent episode. Hartley fooled everyone for awhile as the leak. She was excellent in the role. I remember she shot the guy in the heart.
Act Of Duty loved that episode. Burns killed that beautiful woman police officer. It made me mad and Vaccaro another excellent acting job mourning her friend and luring Burns into being captured.
Target:Red I can't remember but I enjoyed the school house episode when the retired school teacher has those kids hostage in the room. I think Mask Of Death and Police Buff were the 2 best of the series although River Of Fear was quite good. A Peter Strauss fan and I enjoyed him in a few episodes. The one when he was in jail and he was framed for another crime when he was out. Also, the priest episode. JC

by John Chergi » Mon May 15, 2017 3:56 pm

Beyond Vengeance was as good as any of the Classic HFO episodes. Joe Don Baker outstanding acting as the ex-con harmonica playing guy who wants revenge on Stone. 10 years in the slammer. He kills Jeanie's friend on the bus and then sets his sight on Jeanie next. The harmonica sound Jeanie remembered from the bus from college and then later. Incredible episode! He had his rights and you could feel the tension building.
I wished Streets Of SF could have soldiered on another few years with Richard Hatch. There were some good episodes in Season 5. They could have developed his health food loving character some but it was only the 1 season. JC

by ringfire211 » Tue May 16, 2017 1:43 pm

"Beyond Vengeance" is easily the best episode from season 1 and is on par with some of the classic Five-O episodes! It's really a remake of the classic thriller CAPE FEAR where Robert Mitchum played the psychotic ex-con Max Cady who's out of prison and is out to put through hell the man who sent him up the river. The episode is intense, Joe Don is a total psycho creep, his target is Stone's daughter Jeannie, and that harmonica is a superb touch and really works to let you know the psycho is around. Plus the night-time ending outside SF's Legion of Honor Museum is totally creepy!! Feels like you're watching a movie, not a TV show. Has that film noir creepy feel to it!

by John Chergi » Sat May 20, 2017 10:27 pm

I had to look up the name of the episode but it was entitled Asylum. There's an incredible acting scene when they give Keller some kind of medication like he was crazy. He enters a psych patient facility to find out who was killing patients there. Excellent episode. JC

by ringfire211 » Sun May 21, 2017 8:46 pm

I remember "Asylum". Five-O alums James Olson and Michael Anderson, Jr. were in it. It was a good one. The general consensus is that season 3 was the show's peak! I tend to agree - lots of great ones that season! Like with Five-O, it took 2 seasons to really find its groove but by season 3 it was a well-oiled machine. Unlike Five-O, however, it quickly started its decline by season 5, which mostly had to do with Douglas leaving.

by John Chergi » Wed May 24, 2017 11:00 pm

I probably put Jacob's Boy in my Top 20 SOS. Brock Peters an excellent actor and Dabney Coleman as a businessman father make this a must see. Poor Jacob escaped prison down South and has settled in SF. He's an all-around jack of all trades and worked several years for a family. The wife died presumably of cancer or something. Jacob has helped to raise the boy for several years after the mother had passed. Things go bad for Jacob when 2 lowlifes try to blackmail Jacob for $. They know he's an escaped convict. From there, the story takes off with some twists and turns. The boy is now late teenager I would think but he still works for the family and helps the kid. This young man seems to worship Jacob who even has his own boat and is a SF Giants fan. JC

by ringfire211 » Thu May 25, 2017 3:43 pm

I can't remember Jacob's Boy too well, probably because I wasn't too impressed with it when I saw it. It wasn't a standout for me. I do remember Brock Peters and Dabney Coleman and that Peters was hiding something from his past. But that's about it. Will need to catch up on it.

by mostlyfive0 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:46 am

I loved Streets of San Francisco. I was pretty young when it first aired, but it was the first show I was allowed to stay up late for to watch it.
Did you know that Steve Keller was named Steve Heller in Germany? So weird when I watched it for the first time in English years later.

by Fred » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:38 am

Sorry for being late to the party. The Streets of San Francisco and Five-O are my two all time favorite shows from the 70s.

My top shows from season 1 are (in order of favorites):

Beyond Vengeance (I agree with the the comments here - Joe Don Baker nails it as a creepy criminal)
The Legions of the Lost (Leslie Neilsen is excellent)
The Takers (The story takes you in lots of directions and then gives a surprising ending)
The Albatross (Good legal intrigue and Kaz Garras is good at being a jerk)

Honorable mention to:

Bitter Wine
The House on Hyde Street
A Collection of Eagles
A Room With a View
The First Day of Forever

Ringfire: I noticed on your list that for season 2, you listed For the Love of God and Judgement Day for season 4. The two episodes are near identical. Only slightly changed to fit their episodes. In the first one, Peter Strauss is a troubled person taking out the priests who defrocked his friend at the insane asylum. In the other, Michael Burns, also troubled, is taking out the judges who disbarred his father. In both cases the proceedings were correct, but Strauss and Burns were to mentally sick to accept it. By the time Malden and Douglas figure out that there's a list of victims, there's only one left in each episode and Malden assumes their identity in both. There's even a parallel where Strauss and Burns mistake someone as the person they are looking for, spares them, and then goes to L.A. to knock off the next to last person on the list. That's pretty crazy.

Given the re-write of the episode above, how weird is it that Burns participated in two series where the episode he's the major guest star is part of a re-write. In Five-O he's the one in the Diamond Head bunker sniping away at the cops. Then you get the second episode with Uncle Fester in the bunker with his accomplice and the little girl they kidnapped. While the Five-O scripts are different, the premise of them in a the same protective fortress and the use of the same film footage pairs the two episodes together.

One last note. In the For the Love of God episode, they end up at the top of Mount Davidson. There's a huge concrete cross at the top, I think placed by the Greek Orthodox Church. The cross is prominently part of a scene in the original Dirty Harry movie. So, I made a point to visit there. It's relatively far away from downtown SF and a bit of a hike to the top, but well worth the visit.

More on SoSF later.

by ringfire211 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:12 pm

Fred, I'm surprised you don't have "Act of Duty" in your season 1 list. It's a superb episode and one of the series' all-time best! On par with "Beyond Vengeance". Very suspenseful and creepy! And it has our boy Michael Burns in play again - that guy is everywhere!

Yes when I saw season 4's "Judgment Day" (a long time back) I immediately picked up on the striking similarities with "For the Love of God". They must have needed a new episode real bad so they just took the earlier one from season 2 and replaced the priest killer with a judge killer... and voila!

And yes that cross at the end of "Love of God" is a very striking image. You can't help but think of DIRTY HARRY when you see it. It's by far the creepiest scene in that iconic film - with Andy Robinson going full-blown psycho on Clint and pressing his face against that cross. Brrrr!! Definitely a place to see, if I ever make it out to San Fran.

by Fred » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:25 am


I had listed my personal 4.0 & 3.5 list. Act of Duty I listed with Mr. Mike as a 3.0. It's definitely a strong 3.0, so I can't argue with you about being listed. Brenda Vaccaro is strong. But I think I liked her better in the episode where she plays a "hit man". Vaccaro and Michael Douglas were a couple then. That adds some intrigue to the episode.

Other 3.0 episodes:

The Thirty-Year Pin
45 Minutes from Home
Tower Beyond Tragedy
In the Midst of Strangers
The Year of the Locusts
The Bullet
A Trout in the Milk
The Set-Up

I feel that the first season was probably the best and the writers did a great job building the characters with solid scripts.

by ringfire211 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:03 pm

I see. Yes Brenda Vaccaro was especially good in her second appearance, if only because of the cool plot twist involving her character. And she did have good chemistry with Douglas. I didn't know that they lived together around that time.

I agree that season 1 was very good. But I think 2 and 3 were probably the show's best seasons. They both begin with a couple of very good episodes. Season 2 has "Betrayed" (with Martin Sheen), "For the Love of God" (with Peter Strauss), and "Before I Die" (with Leslie Nielsen). Season 3 has "One Last Shot" (with Leslie Nielsen), "The Most Deadly Species" (with Brenda Vaccaro), "Target: Red" (with Bill Bixby), and "Mask of Death" (with John Davidson). Of course season 4 also had its share of standouts too.

by John Chergi » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:51 am

Great Streets Of San Francisco talk this week on the forum. Season 2-Shield Of Honor. That earns a 4 star ****. Excellent episode as Mariette Hartley character plays a corrupt cop. Fools everybody for awhile. She shoots the suspect in the heart to make sure he couldn't talk. Just love this episode. Very realistic. Winterkill- 3.5 stars. Very good episode. This still happens today with the issue of our elderly population and the costs of care and surgeries. The old criminal played by Paul Fix would make a loyal friend. He tried to go through the hospital and the rich businessman for help on his friend's eye surgery. Then, he took matters into his own hands. Sure was suspenseful when they take that bomb out carefully and it explodes outside the building. I'd probably put Death And The Favored Few at 3.5 stars too. I like how they say the publisher of the magazine The Favored Few blackmailed people into buying subscriptions. Pretty smart and enterprising. It was a good episode since many of SF wealthy were blackmailed into buying the subscriptions and disliked the guy. Plenty of suspects. Overall, I favor Season 1 Streets Of San Francisco to Season 2 episode for episode. JC

by ringfire211 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:33 pm

It's been a long time since I've seen "Shield of Honor" but I do remember it being one of the best from season 2. If not 4 stars I'd definitely give it 3.5

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