Having played to dismal ratings during its first season, the NBC cop drama Hunter increased its viewership dramatically during Season Two, thanks to several corporate and creative decisions. To begin with, the network removed the series from its "suicide" slot opposite CBS' Dallas and into a slightly more appealing Saturday night berth, where its ...Read MoreHaving played to dismal ratings during its first season, the NBC cop drama Hunter increased its viewership dramatically during Season Two, thanks to several corporate and creative decisions. To begin with, the network removed the series from its "suicide" slot opposite CBS' Dallas and into a slightly more appealing Saturday night berth, where its principal competition was the fading The Love Boat. Also, Roy Huggins was brought in as the new producer, whereupon he immediately set about to broaden Hunter's appeal by softening the characters and changing the basic locale. The fact that LAPD homicide detective Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer) was the son of a gangster was allowed to fade into obscurity before disappearing completely, while Hunter's previously impervious partner Dee Dee McCall (Stepfanie Kramer) was less the "brass cupcake" she'd been in Season One and more of a sensitive, compassionate human being. It was further hinted that the relationship between Hunter and Dee Dee went far beyond a professional one. Additiionally, Huggins moved the two partners off the mean streets of downtown LA and into a more refined "uptown" setting. Replacing Captain Dolan as Hunter's dyspeptic superior officer this season is Bruce Davison as Captain Wyler, less irascible and vindictive than Dolan but not much more sympathetic to Hunter's unorthodox police methods. Also added to the cast are John Shearin as Lt. Ambrose Finn, whose later death in the line of duty would allow Hunter to demonstrate the more sentimental side of his personality,and Garrett Morris as Arnold "Sporty" James, bombastic street hustler and informant. In the season opener "Case X", directed by onetime Starsky and Hutch star David Soul, Hunter searches for the serial killer of female porn stars. Later episodes include "The Biggest Man in Town", in which Hunter and Dee head to a resort community run by a man who may be a big-time criminal; "Rich Girl", wherein a guilt-ridden Hunter seeks out the actual perpetrator of a crime for which a suicidal young woman was wrongly accused; "Killer in a Halloween Mask", taking place on the set of a Hunter-like TV series for which Hunter and Dee Dee serve as technical advisors; "Fagin 1986", in which our hero mercilessly targets another corruptor of youth; "The Set-Up", bringing Hunter in contact with the "untouchable" international criminal who may have caused the death of his former partner; and "The Return of Typhoon Thompson", clearly inspired by the story of boxer "Hurricane" Carter and starring Isaac Hayes in the title role. The most memorable of the season's offerings is the two-part "Rape and Revenge", with Hunter declaring a vendetta against the South American man who raped Dee Dee, then managed to escape prosecution by declaring diplomatic immunity. Only slightly less fascinating is another two-parter, "The Beautiful and the Dead", in which the murder of a gorgeous girl in a seedy motel plunges Hunter into a complex espionage yarn involving both Federal and Russian secret agents. Hal Erickson, RoviRead Less
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