Besides the high-caliber list of guest stars, I have to mention the scripts themselves as a big reason this season was such a good one. The writers were tackling subjects that were really cutting-edge at the time. While many of the topics were “in the air” in the mid-'70s, it would be years before they became headline-dominating issues. “Police Buff,” stars Bill Bixby as a one-man, civilian “vigilante squad,” years before Bernhard Goetz. “No Place to Hide deals with race-based prison gangs, who take out their grievances on the street against family members of their jailhouse foes. “Spooks for Hire” focuses on ex-CIA agents, who are free-lancing on the streets. One cannot help to think of Cheney and Halliburton while watching this episode.
1975-1976 were the height of Gerald Ford’s brief presidency, and the post-Watergate “hangover” the nation was dealing with is reflected in some of the Streets programs. Even though we are watching a cop show, with a distinct “good guys vs. the bad guys” setup, there is a healthy distrust of authority that runs through many of the episodes. Corporate criminals are dealt with in “Murder by Proxy,” and “The Glass Dart Board.” Rogue cops are also dealt with, not only in the Sorvino program previously mentioned, but especially in “Poisoned Snow,” (featuring Mark Hamill), and “Underground.”
When Michael Douglas would move on the following year, to pursue his career in film, the show lost its audience. The chemistry between Malden and Douglas was a major attraction of The Streets after all. This was not an issue during season four however, and the series was firing on all cylinders. All 23 programs have been digitally remastered, and in contrast to a number of 70s series I have seen, the picture quality is quite good. There are no bonuses included on either of the volumes.
The Streets of San Francisco Season Four Volumes One and Two will be released August 28, 2012.