The Streets of San Francisco is a successful 1970s television police drama filmed on location in San Francisco, California, USA, and produced by Quinn Martin Productions, with the first season produced in association with Warner Bros. Television (QM produced the show on its own for the remainder of its run). The show ran for five seasons, between September 16, 1972 and June 9, 1977 on ABC, amassing a total of 119 60-minute episodes. The series started with a pilot movie of the same title (based on the detective novel Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston) earlier in 1972.
The Streets of San Francisco
debuted on ABC on Saturday, September 16
, at 9 p.m. Eastern, competing against two popular CBS
sitcoms, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
and The Bob Newhart Show
. Another critically acclaimed crime drama
, The Rookies
, debuted just five days before Streets;
it was also seen on ABC. After Streets
gained attention on Friday nights during the first season, the show was moved to Thursday, where it stayed for the remainder of the run, beginning with the second season, competing against other successful 1970s crime
dramas, in different timeslots.
This show was about two police officers who investigated homicides in the "city by the bay." The center of the series was a veteran cop and widower, Lt. Mike Stone (Karl Malden
), who had more than 20 years of police experience and was now assigned to the Homicide Detail of SFPD
's Bureau of Inspectors (i.e. Detective
Division). He was partnered with a young, educated, plainclothes
detective and energetic partner, Assistant Inspector
Steve Keller (Michael Douglas
), a 28-year-old college graduate (in real-life, Douglas was in fact born in 1944) who had no experience in the police force. Stone would become a second father to Keller as he learned the rigors and procedures of detective work. Eventually, Keller was promoted to full inspector. As the series went on, Douglas, the son of actor Kirk Douglas
, became a star in his own right. Mike's daughter, Jeannie Stone (Darlene Carr
), made occasional appearances.
After the second episode of the fifth and final season, Douglas left the show after successfully producing the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won the Academy Award for Best Film for 1975. He in turn would also establish a film career, compared to Malden. His character's absence was explained by having him take a teaching position at a local college, while Lt. Stone was partnered with another detective, Insp. Dan Robbins (Richard Hatch), who had started his career on the ABC soap All My Children and would later go on to Battlestar: Galactica. The change was not popular with audiences, and the show ended in 1977, due to low ratings. Also in 1977, writer James J. Sweeney won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for the season four episode "Requiem for Murder".
Many familiar and/or unfamiliar actors who guest-starred on the show went on to become successful stars: Leslie Nielsen, James Woods, Joe E. Tata, John Rubinstein, Patty Duke, John Ritter, Robert Wagner, Ed Lauter, Dick Van Patten, Mark Hamill, William Windom, Stefanie Powers, Martin Sheen, Tom Bosley, Tom Selleck, Larry Hagman, Joe Spano, Noah Beery Jr., Bill Bixby, Norman Fell, James B. Sikking, Anthony Geary, Bob Hastings, Meredith Baxter, Gordon Jump, Doris Roberts, Meg Foster, Nick Scoggin among many others. Michael Douglas' mother, Diana Douglas (born Diana Love Dill), was also starring in one episode. Future movie actor and current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger played a body builder in an episode entitled "Dead Lift", a clip of which has become an well known Internet meme.
An NBC TV movie, Back to the Streets of San Francisco
, was released in early 1992
. Karl Malden returned as Mike Stone, now promoted to Captain of Inspectors. The plot involved Stone investigating the murder of Keller while also investigating a different brutal murder. He also attempted to decide which of two inspectors should be recommended for the position of Lieutenant. Actors Debrah Farentino
and Conor O’Farrell
played the two inspectors.
In July 2008, it was reported that CBS
, whose sister company owns the rights to The Streets of San Francisco
, had commissioned a pilot script for a new version of the series. Sheldon Turner
("The Longest Yard
") and "Numb3rs
" Robert Port
are penning the script, with Simon West
on board to direct the potential pilot.
CBS Home Entertainment
has released the complete first season and Season 2, Volume 1 of The Streets of San Francisco
on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. Season 2, Volume 2 is scheduled to be released on November 11, 2008.
- An occasional character in the series, "Sekulovich," played by Art Metrano, was usually a leg-man for Stone and asked to do errands or get coffee. The inside joke was that the name Sekulovich was actually Karl Malden's real surname.
- The first season of the series, Vol. 1, was released on April 10, 2007, via Paramount/CBS DVD, making this the first of Quinn Martin's series to be released on DVD (CBS Studios now own the rights to this series).
- Douglas did not reprise his role as Steve Keller in the Back to the Streets of San Francisco movie, as he was doing Basic Instinct, at the time, which was also set in San Francisco.
- Karl Malden is the only actor to appear in all 120 episodes of the series. Michael Douglas appeared in the second highest number of episodes, appearing in 98 of the 120 episodes, for the first 4 seasons.
- Stone and Keller's cars for the series were a full sized Ford Galaxie 500 and a Ford LTD 4-door sedan.
- In the German version Steve Keller was named Heller, to avoid confusion with the character of a German police drama, whose name was also Keller.
- During production in San Francisco, many locations were used for chase scenes including a foot chase to the interior of the almost completed BART station, 16th Street/Mission.
- Steve Keller's personal car in the series was a 1973 Porsche 911 Targa in Agate Brown Metallic with tan interior. It was used in several episodes in 1974 and beyond until Michael Douglas left the show.
- (TV Movie)