Written by Scott Katz   
Tuesday, 20 July 2010 03:35

Hunter: The Complete Series cover sleeve viewAiring for seven seasons on NBC from 1984-1991, Hunter teamed football-star-turned-actor, Fred Dryer, with actress Stepfanie Kramer.  The series marked the first major starring roles for each actor (Ms. Kramer was only 28 when the series began), and, while it was not an immediate hit, it soon grew into one of the more memorable 80s action series.  Dryer's character, Detective Sergeant Rick Hunter, was seemingly modeled after Dirty Harry, although after Season 1, his violent tendencies were toned way down.  Kramer portrayed Detective Sergeant Dee Dee McCall, at first nicknamed "the Brass Cupcake."  Hunter was created by Frank Lupo, and produced by Stephen J. Cannell Productions, whose long roster of (mostly action-oriented) television hits includes: 21 Jump Street, The Greatest American Hero, Cobra, The Commish, Renegade, Riptide, Silk Stalkings, Stingray, Wiseguy, and many others, including The A-Team.

Despite coming from the world of sports, Fred Dryer made an easy transition into acting and displayed a natural comfort and charisma in front of the camera.  In fact, a few years before the premiere of Hunter, he was one of the few actors to be considered for the part of Sam Malone on Cheers that eventually went to Ted Danson.  His on-screen chemistry with Stepfanie Kramer was instrumental to the success of the series and made it a fan favorite throughout the mid-to-late 1980s.  Scripts were generally of good quality, and the relationship between Hunter and McCall was allowed to develop and deepen over the seasons.    Hunter was a top 30 staple for four of its seven seasons (Seasons 3 through 6), and achieved its highest ratings in Season 5.  Kramer left the series after Season 6 in order to pursue other acting opportunities and a music career and seemingly got out of Dodge in the nick of time.  The absence of Kramer in Season 7 coupled with a timeslot change to Wednesday from its usual Saturday night perch doomed the series even though it was up against ratings-anemic forgettables such as the one-season wonders WIOU on CBS and the dreaded Cop Rock on ABC.

Now, Mill Creek Entertainment brings together all 152 episodes of Hunter into one 28-disc box set, Hunter: The Complete Series. They were kind enough to send us a copy for review in advance of its street date of Tuesday, July 27 and to join us on our Internet Radio Show today at 2pm Eastern.


Our impressions of the set are as follows:

Video: Each of the seven seasons is on 4 DVDs.  With 22 episodes in most seasons, this means that there can be as many as six episodes packed on to a single DVD.  With the norm for DVD releases of one-hour shows being four per disc, we were a little concerned that there would be quite noticeable compression artifacts all over the picture, but we were pleasantly surprised that the video quality is good-to-very good on all episodes.  Mill Creek Entertainment is working off the masters that were provided them by Stephen J. Cannell Productions, and no independent restoration work was done by them.  However, the materials given to them were of sufficient quality that no work was really needed.  Now, this set is not reference quality video by any means, but it looks at least as good as reruns of Hunter that you would see on cable or online.  Mill Creek Entertainment specializes in budget releases, and you are getting a big bang-for-your-buck here.  Each episode is presented in its original 1:1.33 aspect ratio, which is much appreciated as we're not fans of DVD producers trying to create a widescreen frame by chopping off the top and bottom of the picture any more than we liked it when they used chop off the sides of the picture to fit a square TV.


Audio: All the episodes are in stereo, and the sound quality is very good on every episode.  Dialogue is clear and distinct as are the many bullet shots, broken glass takes, and screeching tires that are essentially supporting characters in this series.  Mike Post's synthesizer score and various takes on the Hunter theme will be unleashed from your speakers to full effect here.


Convenience features:

Menu selections - "Play All" or select episode (based on episode title – no video thumbnails)

Foreign language tracks - None

Subtitles / Closed Captions - None


Special features: None.  The interviews with Stephen J. Cannell and Stepfanie Kramer that were part of Anchor Bay's version of Hunter: The Complete Season 1 are not included in either the Mill Creek version or this full series box set as that material is likely owned by Anchor Bay.


Bonus episodes: None.  Please note that this box set comprises the totality of the original 1984-1991 series, Hunter, exclusively.  None of the subsequent reunion TV-movies or the brief 2003 revival series are included here.


Packaging: The 28 discs are contained in a single, thick Amray-like case – slightly thicker than 3 standard-sized Amrays put together.  In terms of weight, it basically feels like a brick.  Inside, the DVDs are not fastened to a plastic hub as in most cases.  Rather, they are each individually placed inside a DVD envelope and then stacked on top of each other, pancake-style, inside the case.  They are held securely by the case's unique inside frame.  A cardstock sleeve slides over the case.  The photo artwork on the sleeve and on the case itself are identical.  Pictures of the packaging appear below.  The packaging is not fancy, but it's certainly functional.  It is a bit of an inconvenience having to take out the pile of DVDs every time you want one – you can't get to that 28th DVD without removing the 27 on top of it – but there really hasn't been a DVD box set with quite this many discs before.  A fold-out digipak simply won't work here as it would likely stretch from New York to LA.


Episode cuts and music changes: Mill Creek Entertainment has stated that they are using the syndicated prints that were provided to them by Stephen J. Cannell Productions.  This does mean that there are going to be music cuts and alterations.  On most episodes, this would constitute changes to incidental background music.  For example, it has been stated that in the pilot episode, the classic song "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival was playing underneath the opening scene.  You will not hear it on this DVD.  Some unidentifiable (to us, at least) country ditty is playing in its place.  For us, since we don't have fond childhood memories of this series that we are trying to recapture, the missing songs of this type were not a problem.  Your mileage may vary.  However, please note that music substitutions were the decision of Stephen J. Cannell Productions when they created their syndication prints.  Mill Creek Entertainment had no control over this.  These are the official company versions of these episodes, and they will remain so unless music licensing gets much cheaper.  One episode in particular we should mention is Season 3's "The Cradle Will Rock," which guest-starred Chaka Khan and also features Dee Dee McCall going undercover as a singer at a nightclub.  Beyond a few introductory snippets from Stepfanie Kramer, there is no singing at all from either of the two ladies.  Therefore, this episode is much briefer than any other episode in the series in this DVD version, coming in at only 41 minutes.  This likely means that at least 7 minutes have been cut from the original.  The "good" news is that it had no effect on story flow or understandability.

As far as the episodes themselves, unfortunately we don't have the original Hunter episodes to compare these to, but we think that most of the episodes are otherwise complete in terms of running time.  "Syndicated prints" usually means that some minutes – often as much as four to five minutes for an hour show – have been trimmed in order to make room for more commericals.  We haven't seen running times low enough to indicate that this has taken place here to any great degree.  We've noted the running time for each of the 152 episodes below (yes, we're crazy-thorough), and most are clocking in at around the 48 minute mark, which was the standard running time for an hour timeslot in the 1980s, but feel free to check them against your old VHS tapes and post below if you find any discrepancies.


In conclusion: After all is said and done, we as fans have to realize that not every series can be perfectly preserved the way we remember it from our youths.  Given the realities of music licensing, we may just have to accept the fact that there will be changes made to the episodes, but that it might not be a dealbreaker in all cases.  As we said above, the bang-for-your-buck ratio with Hunter: The Complete Series is incredibly high.  Each season costs under $14.30 even if you were to pay full MSRP, and you can now pick up the entire series in one fell swoop and watch one of the better Cannell action shows of the 1980s.




"Works for Me"

Recommendation: BUY



Hunter: The Complete Series spine view (Image © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Hunter: The Complete Series open view (Image © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Hunter: The Complete Series empty case view (Image © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Hunter: The Complete Series single disc view (Image © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Hunter: The Complete Series all disc view (Image © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)







1. Pilot - 1:35:46

2. "Hard Contact" - 48:32

3. "The Hot Grounder" - 48:03

4. "A Long Way from LA - 46:57



5. "Legacy" - 45:42

6. Flight on a Dead Pigeon" - 47:07

7. "Pen Pals" - 49:54

8. "Dead or Alive" - 47:42

9. "High Bleacher Man" - 46:10



10. "The Shooter" - 46.44

11. "The Garbage Man" - 48.04

12. "The Avenging Man" - 48.18

13. "The Snow Queen" pt. 1 - 44.10

14. "The Snow Queen" pt. 2 - 47.56



15. "The Beachboy" - 46.39

16. "Guilty" - 47.20

17. "The Last Kill" - 48.14

18. "Fireman" - 48.50

19. "Sniper" - 48.24



1. "Case X" - 48.10

2. "Night of the Dragons" - 47.02

3. "The Biggest Man in Town" - 46.02

4. "Richgirl" - 48.24

5. Killer in the Halloween Mask" - 47.59

6. "Rape & Revenge" pt. 1 - 47.52



7. "Rape & Revenge" pt. 2 - 48.44

8. "Million Dollar Misunderstanding" - 46.39

9. "The Big Fall" - 48.14

10. "Waiting for Mr. Wong" - 48.39

11. "Think Blue" - 48.26

12. "Blow-Up" - 47.10



13. "War Zone" - 46.45

14. "Burned" - 47.27

15. "Scrap Metal" - 46.51

16. "Fagin 1986" - 46.22

17. "62 Hours of Terror" - 47.54

18. "Death Machine" - 46.53



19. "Set Up" - 48.04

20. "Beautiful & Dead" pt. 1 - 48.12

21. "Beautiful & Dead" pt. 2 - 45.42

22. "Typhoon Thompson" - 47.06

23. "Saturday Night Special" - 48.00



1. "Overnight Sensation" - 48.28

2. "Change Partners and Dance" - 47.37

3. "Crime of Passion" - 48.50

4. "The Castro Connection" - 47.23

5. "High Noon in LA" - 48.35

6. "From San Francisco with Love" - 48.42



7. "True Confessions" - 48.24

8. "Love, Hate and Sporty James" - 47.30

9. "The Contact" - 48.24

10. "The Cradle Will Rock" - 41.01

11. "Bad Company" - 47.27

12. "Down and Under" - 48.46



13. "Straight to the Heart" - 47.52

14. "Requiem for Sergeant McCall" - 48.56

15. "Double Exposure" - 48.22

16. "The Girl Next Door" - 47.20

17. "Any Second Now" - 47.11



18. "A Child is Born" - 48.46

19. "Crossfire" - 48.36

20. "Hot Pursuit" pt. 1 - 48.58

21. "Hot Pursuit" pt. 2 - 47.13

22. "Shades" - 48.39



1. "Not Just Another John Doe" - 48.12

2. "Playing God" - 48.17

3. "The Jade Woman" - 47.35

4. "Flashpoint" - 47.45

5. "Night on Bald Mountain" - 48.36

6. "City of Passion" pt. 1 - 48.53



7. "City of Passion" pt. 2 - 48.10

8. "City of Passion" pt. 3 - 49.14

9. "Turning Point" - 48.39

10. "Hot Prowl" - 48.35

11. "Allegra" - 47.37

12. "Renegade" - 48.38



13. "The Black Dahlia" - 48.35

14. "Naked Justice" pt. 1 - 47.51

15. "Naked Justice" pt. 2 - 47.53

16. "Girl on the Beach" - 47.46

17. "The Bogota Million" 47.56



18. "Death Signs" - 47.35

19. "Boomerang" - 46.59

20. "The Fourth Man" - 48.37

21. "Murder, He Wrote" - 48.36

22. "Silver Bullet" - 48.28



1. "Heir of Neglect" - 46.50

2. "The Baby Game" - 45.53

3. "Dead on Target" pt. 1 - 48.08

4. "Dead on Target" pt. 2 - 45.40

5. "Presumed Guilty" - 47.01

6. "No Good Deed Ever Goes Unpunished" - 45.32



7. "Honorable Profession" - 45.36

8. "Payback" - 47.56

9. "Partners" - 45.54

10. "The Pit" - 46.16

11. "City Under Siege" pt. 1 - 48.25

12. "City Under Siege" pt. 2 - 47.47



13. "City Under Siege" pt. 3 - 47.20

14. "Me, Myself & Die" - 47.11

15. "Informant" - 46.41

16. "Blood Line" - 46.04

17. "Shoot to Kill" - 46.37



18. "Code 3" - 46.46

19. "Ring of Honor" - 46.29

20. "Teen Dreams" - 45.43

21. "Last Run" - 48.28

22. "Return of White Cloud" - 47.30



1. "On Air" - 47.54

2. "Shillelagh" - 46.29

3. "Investment in Death" - 46.23

4. "A Girl Named Hunter" - 46.58

5. "The Legion" pt. 1 - 46.51

6. "The Legion" pt. 2 - 48.06



7. "Yesterday's Child" - 48.05

8. "Shield of Honor" - 46.28

9. "The Fifth Victim" - 47.49

10. "Brotherly Love" - 46.27

11. "The Nightmare" - 46.05

12. "Broken Dreams" - 46.38



13. "Son and Heir" - 46.29

14. Unacceptable Loss" - 47.12

15. "Unfinished Business" - 49.07

16. "Lullaby" - 46.56

17. "Final Confession" - 47.11



18. "Blind Ambition" - 47.45

19. "Sudden Withdrawal" - 46.40

20. "Second Sight" - 47.20

21. "Street Wise" pt. 1 - 46.49

22. "Street Wise" pt. 2 - 48.41



1. "Deadly Encounters" pt. 1 - 46.01

2. "Deadly Encounters" pt. 2 - 48.10

3. "Where Echoes End" - 42.39

4. "Kill Zone" - 46.13

5. "The Incident" - 48.26

6. "A Snitch'll Break Your Heart" - 47.49



7. "Oh the Shark Bites!" - 46.47

8. "The Usual Suspects" - 46.41

9. "This is My Gun" - 47.54

10. "La Familia" - 47.49

11. "Acapulco Holiday" - 46.48

12. "Fatal Obsession" pt. 1 - 46.50



13. "Fatal Obsession" pt. 2 - 48.07

14. "Under Suspicion" - 48.06

15. "The Reporter" - 45.57

16. "Room Service" - 48.58

17. "Shadow of the Past" - 48.17



18. "The Grab" - 46.18

19. "All That Glitters" - 46.31

20. "Cries of Silence" - 48.23

21. "Ex Marks the Spot" - 48.17

22. "Little Man with a Big Reputation" - 46.16





the-apprentice-logo-thumb UslanMichael-resize-thumb 30-rock-thumb agnes-nixon-thumb BenSpierman-thumb big-brother-logo-thumb bobby-flay-thumb Bridgeboy-logo-thumb
cast of The Apprentice 10


Sherri Shepherd

Vanessa Minnillo

All My Children creator AGNES NIXON

Bronx Opera's BEN SPIERMAN

cast of Big Brother 12 BOBBY FLAY & STEVE ELLS of America's Next Great Restaurant Cast of the play Bridgeboy
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part 1: Guiding Light

part 2: Days of Our Lives

soapcentral.com founder DAN KROLL DAN PARENT of Archie Comics DAVID LYONS of The Cape DEBBIE GIBSON & TIFFANY Author DEDE EMERSON of A Different Kind of Streetwalker
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BOB DOWLING of the 3D Entertainment Summit Indie filmmaker ELIANA UJUETA of Beneath the Rock comic book artist JAMAL IGLE Genesis Repertory's JAY MICHAELS, MARY MiCARI, & actors Oscar-winning actor JEREMY IRONS

Animation historian JERRY BECK

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-songwriter JOSH GROBAN

web series producer KAI SOREMEKUN of Chick

1st interview

2nd interview

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Oscar-winning actress KATHY BATES of Harry's Law Television producer KENNETH JOHNSON of V, Bionic Woman, Incredible Hulk KYLE BORNHEIMER & HAYES MacARTHUR of Perfect Couples

Terrence Howard, René Balcer

Dick Wolf, Alfred Molina, Alana de la Garza

publisher DAN HERMAN of Hermes Press COUNTESS LuANN de LESSEPS of The Real Housewives of New York City author MAX ALLAN COLLINS of Road to Perdition WWE Champion Mike "The MIz" Mizanin
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JEFF HAYNE of Mill Creek Entertainment

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-actor NICK LACHEY supermodel NIKI TAYLOR talks The Celebrity Apprentice actor PAUL REISER of The Paul Reiser Show actor-producer RICKY GERVAIS of The Office actress-television host ROSIE O'DONNELL comic book writer STEVE NILES

Ian Anthony Dale, Nick Wauters

Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, Željko Ivanek

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THORE SCHÖLERMANN & JO WEIL of Verbotene Liebe Peabody & Emmy award winning journalist TOM BROKAW Emmy award winning actor TOM PELPHREY of Guiding Light actors from The Apothecary Theatre Company TORI SPELLING & DEAN McDERMOTT of sTORIbook Weddings





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Die Drei Pintos

Romeo and Juliet in Brooklyn

MPI Home Video

Timless Media Group

Boris Karloff's Thriller

Hunter: The Complete Series

Polly and Her Pals

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Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern

Spider-Man musical delayed again


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New York Comic Con

Apprentice 10 kickoff

Farewell to Guiding Light

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The Broadway Directory


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Guiding Light: A Look Back


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