Taking his not-quite-by-the-book cues from the big screen’s Dirty Harry, Hunter was a good cop…but gentle on the perps he was not. His imposing Magnum revolver, which he nicknamed Simon, saw the light of day quite a bit, and his long-suffering captains were always put out by how many rules he broke. But it was all in a day’s work for L.A.’s gruff (but nicely-tanned) finest.
Stephen Cannell, one of the godfathers of crime fightin’ TV (The Rockford Files, The A-Team and many more), produced Hunter, and though the show suffered from poor ratings its first year (when it played against Dallas), it hit its stride after a move to Saturday nights.
Detective Hunter, as played by former pro football player Fred Dryer, was the son of a mobster trying to make good on his family’s tainted legacy. His partner was Dee Dee McCall, nicknamed the “Brass Cupcake” and very tough herself, perhaps because she was sick of always being hit with the undercover hooker duties. Together, Hunter and McCall worked the streets of rough, downtown Los Angeles. Sure there was sexual tension (as it turned out, the two had been an item a few years prior to partnering up, police-wise), but more importantly, there was heartfelt friendship.
For the show’s second season, the duo’s beat was a bit more uptown, and the bad guys a bit better groomed. They got tips from Carlos, an assistant at the morgue, and from Sporty James, a nightclub owner played by Garrett Morris of Saturday Night Live fame. For five years, the duo protected Los Angelenos from the dregs of society, a nice little run that ended when actress Stepfanie Kraemer (McCall) left the show. Her character quit the force to get married, a decision that tugged at the macho Hunter’s heartstrings because he had always loved his trusty partner.
After McCall’s departure, Hunter’s new right hand woman was street cop Joanne Malinski, but Officer Malinski only lasted a few months, and then Hunter had at the streets alone—though he had a love interest in the form of comely sergeant Chris Novak. He was also transferred to the L.A.P.D.’s cream of the crop Metro Division, where his cases were more high profile than ever.
Hardworking, hard fighting, and hard talking, Hunter was good cop with a sense of humor and a great distaste for proper procedure. But when a copper collared as many nasties as Hunter did, rulebooks had a way of sitting in the back seat—nice, quiet, and typically unopened.
In 1995 there was a surprise TV movie revival called The Return of Hunter where Rick Hunter is now engaged to Vickie Sherry and working with the Parker Division of the LAPD.
Then again in 2002 there was another TV Movie called Hunter: Return To Justice which saw a team up once more with Dee Dee McCall. This was successful enough that the following year a six part series, still called Hunter. The team is once again Hunter and Dee Dee and the pair are now working for the San Diego Police Department.
“Works for me.” – Every tough cop needs a catchphrase to regale the bad guys with, and this was Rick Hunter’s.
USA / NBC / x50 minute episodes / Broadcast 18 September 1984 – 30 August 1991 and 2002
Creator and Executive Producer: Stephen J. Cannell / Theme Music: Mike Post, Pete Carpenter
Fred Dryer as Rick Hunter
Stepfanie Kramer as Dee Dee McCall
Darlanne Fluegel as Joann Molinski
Lauren Lane as Christine Novak
Franc Luz as Steve McCall
Robert Conner Newman as Dr. Alex Turner
Michael Cavanaugh as Lester Cain
Arthur Rosenberg as Lester Cain
John Amos as Captain Dolan
Bruce Davison as Captain Wyler
Charles Hallahan as Chief Charles Devane
Garrett Morris as Sporty James