The only “regular” cast member in the entire series is a retired police officer that owns a watering hole that caters to cops — played by veteran actor Scott Brady — and is seen sporadically. My only qualm is that Joe Don Baker wasn’t cast in a single episode of this series, which ran for a total of five seasons.
Highlights include “Wyatt Earp Syndrome,” with a subtly-super performance Cliff Gorman (and an incredibly bad one by Smokey Robinson as Gorman’s partner); Darren McGavin as surprisingly open-minded cop looking for “The Ripper” — a killer who targets homosexuals); Angie Dickinson in “The Gamble,” which served as a backdoor pilot for Police Woman; Earl Holliman as a latent print examiner who dreams of becoming a “real” cop (“Fingerprint”); Christopher George as an officer on the take (“Cop In The Middle”) and Kurt Russell as a young man trying to make it through police academy in “Country Boy.”
Shout! Factory presents Police Story: Season One in a glorious 6-disc set that houses three to four episodes per disc as well as a newly-produced interview with Joseph Wambaugh, who talks about how the series came to be and his writing achievements in general. Two feature-length episodes — the aforementioned pilot and “Big John Morrison” (aka “The Hunters”) with Tony Lo Bianco and Jackie Cooper — are also advertised as special features. The 1.33:1 video and mono audio aspects in this superb set are commendable, and are right on par with what we’ve come to expect from Shout! Factory.
In short, this is a fabulous series full of magnificent character actors and classic heavies that touches upon a lot of subjects that were deemed as “taboo” in the early ‘70s (sex, drugs, homosexuality, etc.) but are decidedly tame by today’s standards. There are a few moments here and there that border on “racist” or “sexist” with contemporary, overly-sensitive audiences — the same people who will, ironically, no doubt think that Police Story doesn’t contain enough action compared to modern television shows.