Jessie Mach, an ex-motorcycle cop, is injured in the line of duty. Now a Police Troubleshooter, he's been recruited for a top-secret government mission to ride Street Hawk, an all-terrain, attack motorcycle designed to fight urban crime. Capable of incredible speeds up to 300mph and immense firepower. Only one man, Federal Agent Norman Tuttle, knows Jessie Mach's true identity: The Man; The Machine; Street Hawk.
Airing in 1985, Street Hawk starred Rex Smith as Jessie Mach, an ex-motorcycle cop, recruited by the government to test pilot Street Hawk in the fight against crime.
Street Hawk was designed by Federal Agent Norman Tuttle (Joe Regalbuto), and is capable of traversing any terrain. It has a mounted particle beam (which can disable vehicles), machine guns and rockets. It possessed a vertical lift system to enable it to jump, and was capable of speeds up to 200mph, and up to 300mph using Hyperthrust, a computer-assisted mode controlled by Norman from the warehouse where Street Hawk's control centre was housed.
Originally a highway patrolman, Jessie was reassigned after he suffered a knee injury. While working in the detective department he was approached by Norman Tuttle, an undercover government agent with an edge for engineering brilliance, who convinced Jessie to take on a new secret role riding a powerful motorcycle known as the Street Hawk. Afraid of public opinion regarding a highly-armed motorcycle patrolling the streets, the Street Hawk project was classified by the government, and Jessie's role as test pilot kept secret from his friends and family.
At first Norman was not sure that Jessie was suitable for the role, showing a strong reckless streak, but his superiors believed in Jessie's abilities and suitability for the role. Norman assisted in surgical repairs to Jessie's knee, but Jessie continued to wear a brace by day to assist in maintaining his secret identity. By the second episode, enough time had past for Jessie to dispense with the brace; but, his co-workers remained unaware of the full extent of his recovery as he took on the role of 'police troubleshooter'.
Déjà Vu and Budgets
Quite apart from a theme by Tangerine Dream (from the Le Parc album), the crux of the potential success of the show lay in the charisma of Jessie and his bike. However, the early '80s seemed to be a time of all too many action serials about men and big, powerful vehicles and only something really special with original plotting and engaging characters could hope to possibly survive. Street Hawk didn't have what it would take.
The bike represented the secondary star of the show and was supposed to represent the height of technology achievement with its weapon systems, incredible speeds and Hyperthrust capability. However, the cost of having the bike was significant - a full 15 customised bikes appearing in the first 13 episodes alone. A 1983 Honda XL500 featured in the pilot show, with three 1984 Honda XR500's featuring in the rest of the series. Stunt work was completed using several 1984 Honda XCR250s.
Like so many series, like Battlestar Galactica, Manimal and Knight Rider, Street Hawk used stock footage and effects shots to minimise the draw on its budget. The most notable, and cheesy, stock shot was Jessie perched on Street Hawk posing as if his life depended on it, with all the actual menace and presence of a traffic warden. There was also something almost Automan-like about the sleek bike and Jessie's black riding suit with fluorescent bands and lines - but Automan wins hands down with all his spangly bits and pixelated glow.
The Main Cast
- Rex Smith - Jessie Mach
- Jayne Modean - Rachel Adams (pilot only)
- Joe Regalbuto - Norman Tuttle
- Richard Venture - Captain Leo Altobelli
- Jeannie Wilson - Rachel Adams
Rex Smith appeared as Matt Murdock, Marvel Comics' 'Daredevil', in 1989 and 1991.
Robert Beltran (most recently recognised for his role as Chakotay in Star Trek: Voyager) plays Jessie's partner who gets killed early in the pilot episode. Oddly, this is not the only connections to Star Trek as Mark Alaimo (who played Gul Dukat in Deep Space Nine) and Daphne Ashbrook (who played Melora in Deep Space Nine and, also, Grace in the Doctor Who telemovie) also made guest appearances during the course of the series.
The show ran for a total of 13 televised episodes:
- Pilot - 90-minute Pilot (4 January, 1985)
- 'A Second Self' - (11 January, 1985)
- 'The Adjustor' - (18 January, 1985)
- 'Vegas Run' - (25 January, 1985)
- 'Dog Eat Dog' - (1 February, 1985)
- 'Fire on the Wing' - (8 February, 1985)
- 'Chinatown Memories' - (15 February, 1985)
- 'The Unsinkable 453' - (22 February, 1985)
- 'Hot Target' - (1 March, 1985)
- 'Murder is a Novel Idea' - (8 March, 1985)
- 'The Arabian' - (2 May, 1985)
- 'Female of the Species' - (9 May, 1985)
- 'Follow the Yellow Gold Road' - (16 May, 1985)
There are online campaigns to get Street Hawk released on video or DVD but, like so many other classic '80s action series before it, it's only salvation appears to be in being shown occasionally on the Bravo Channel. With such a surfeit of '80s series vying for attention on cable and shop shelves, it seems that some series will have to fall by the wayside - but there is always hope.
There certainly seems to be an ongoing interest in the show, highlighted when one of the original bikes was sold on EBay in September 2000. In the end it went for $12,000.