DVD Review: B.L. Stryker: The Complete First Season


Arts Alliance America

B.L. Stryker was one of several series aired on a rotating basis as The ABC Mystery Movie (1989-1990). Burt Reynolds starred as an ex-New Orleans cop whose talent for empathizing with violent criminals and killers almost drives him over the edge. Before that can happen, he moves home to Palm Beach, Florida to live the life of a boat bum.

In the premiere episode, Stryker reluctantly helps the Palm Beach PD when a serial rapist’s m.o. resembles that of one he apprehended years ago. The case becomes personal when Stryker’s young friend (played by Kristy Swanson) is victimized. Stryker is aided in his investigation by his best friend, ex-boxer Oz Jackson (Ossie Davis), and by psychiatrist Diane Decker (Helen Shaver).

Created by Christopher Crowe (who had written for the 70s Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew series and the 80s Alfred Hitchcock Presents), Stryker seemed to borrow background from several crime fiction favorites (notably Travis McGee and Spenser), with a dash of TV’s Magnum thrown in, but Reynolds’s easy charm kept him grounded.

Co-produced by Reynolds, Tom Selleck, and several Magnum veterans, Stryker’s TV movie length allowed cases to take their time. The work of novelists like Joe Gores and Robert B. Parker on some of the episodes also made it feel less like weekly TV.

In the end. I have to say Stryker wasn’t his own man, but the collective talent of everyone behind the scenes let him show aspects of characters we may otherwise never see onscreen.

The three-disc First Season set includes five episodes for a total running time of 470 minutes. Bonus features include three .pdf episode scripts accessible via DVD-ROM drive.

–Gerald So

For more of Gerald’s thoughts and observations, check out his blog: If you want to know about my Life…
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