Hunter (TV series)

Hunter is a police drama television series starring Fred Dryer which ran on NBC from 1984 to 1991. The titular character, Sgt. Rick Hunter, was a wily, physically imposing, and often rule-breaking homicide detective (badge# 089) with the Los Angeles Police Department. Stepfanie Kramer co-starred in the first six of the series' seven seasons as Hunter's female partner Sgt. Dee Dee McCall.

Created by Frank Lupo, the show in its early episodes played as television's answer to Dirty Harry. Even after the show's violence was toned down during the second season in hopes of boosting ratings, Hunter and McCall still managed to resolve many cases the good old-fashioned way, by shooting the perpetrators dead.

The show's executive producer during the first season was noted producer Stephen J. Cannell, whose company produced the series.

Show history

Season 1 (1984-1985)

Initially placed in a Friday-night slot against the then-popular Dallas (also a Lorimar production), the show struggled to find an audience and drew criticism for its often graphic depiction of violence. In the first season, the producers sought to create a hook by giving the main character a catchphrase, "Works for me", which was sometimes used two or three times an episode and was even tacked on to the end of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's opening theme music. Several early episodes featured montages set to popular songs from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Mid-way through the first season, with ratings showing no sign of improvement, Cannell gave network chief Brandon Tartikoff a private screening of a two-part episode ("The Snow Queen") that had yet to air and asked him to give the show time to find its feet. Tartikoff liked what he saw and put the show on hiatus until a better time slot could be found. Two months later, Hunter returned to the screens on Saturday nights and viewership slowly started to rise. The first season ended in joint 79th place in the Nielsen Ratings.

Season 2 (1985-1986)

For its second season, Cannell brought in his mentor, Roy Huggins, best known for his work on Maverick and The Rockford Files, to refine the show. As the new executive producer, Huggins toned down the violence, softened the main character's fractious relationship with his superiors, dropped a backstory concerning Hunter's family ties to the mob, and played up the chemistry between Hunter and McCall. Huggins also moved the show's setting out of the back streets and into the more desirable areas of Los Angeles. Emboldened, Dryer and Kramer frequently toyed with the scripts by ad-libbing, and the Hunter character broke the fourth wall for the first time with an aside to viewers at the end of the two-parter "The Beautiful And The Dead". Viewers responded to the changes, and the show's second season ended in 38th place in the Nielsen Ratings. Hunter continued this progress to become a mainstay of NBC's Saturday night schedule.

Season 3 (1986-1987)

Just before work on the third season began, Dryer threatened to walk out unless his salary, reportedly US$21,000 per episode, was raised and creative changes were made. Cannell hit back with a US$20 million breach-of-contract suit. A compromise was reached, with Dryer reportedly landing a new deal worth US$50,000 per episode. The third season, again helmed by Huggins, saw the arrivals of Charles Hallahan as Captain Charlie Devane and Garrett Morris as police informant and street hustler Arnold "Sporty" James. When Hunter went missing, Dee Dee teamed with Columbo-like Detective Kitty O'Hearn (Shelley Taylor Morgan) (Shades episode #22). This was the show's first season in the top 30, coming in at 25th.

Season 4 (1987-1988)

Huggins retired at the end of the fourth season, which placed 18th in the Nielsen Ratings. A three-part storyline, "City of Passion," teamed Hunter and Dee Dee with Detective Kitty O'Hearn (Shelley Taylor Morgan) and her new partner, Sgt. Brad Navarro, played by Erik Estrada. Together they solved the rape case of "Stinky".

Season 5 (1988-1989)

For the fifth season, George Geiger took on the role of executive producer, having worked in the same capacity on Scarecrow and Mrs. King and as co-executive producer on Miami Vice. In the first four seasons, Hunter and McCall typically worked on cases together, allowing the producers to showcase the chemistry between the actors. But the fifth season increasingly had them working apart, ostensibly to lessen the workload of Dryer and Kramer and to allow richer, more complex stories. The fifth season placed 17th in the Nielsen ratings.

Season 6 (1989-1990)

By the sixth season, Dryer's growing influence had won him the role of executive producer. The sixth season featured an episode ("Unfinished Business") in which it was revealed that Hunter and McCall had once slept together, which suddenly cropped up to cause a rift in their working relationship. At the end of the sixth season, which placed in the top 25 of the Nielsen Ratings, Kramer left the series to pursue a career in music. In the season's final episode, McCall was shown marrying an old flame and moving out of Los Angeles.

Season 7 (1990-1991)

For the seventh and final season, the producers moved the lead character (and Capt. Devane) from divisional homicide to the elite "Metro" unit based at Parker Center, and NBC shifted the show to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. A new female co-star, Darlanne Fluegel as Officer Joanne Molenski, was brought in, only to leave halfway through the season when her character was murdered by a female serial killer. Her replacement for the second half of the season was Lauren Lane as Sgt. Chris Novak. Hunter's signature unmarked vehicle, a moss green '76-'78 era Dodge Monaco/Plymouth Fury, was also finally replaced (after an accident with Molenski's cruiser in the season's first episode) by a silver '90 Ford LTD. For the first time (barring the sixth season finale) Hunter also made sporadic appearances in uniform.


A revival NBC TV movie, The Return of Hunter: Everyone Walks in L.A., saw Dryer and Hallahan reprise their roles. (Hunter had also been promoted to lieutenant.) Airing on NBC on March 6, 1995, the movie took the O.J. Simpson case as its inspiration. Kramer, pregnant at the time, did not appear as McCall. The TV-movie co-starred Barry Bostwick and John C. McGinley.

In November 2002, 11 years after the original series ended, the TV movie Hunter: Return to Justice made its premiere to strong ratings. Kramer also returned to her role of McCall, but the show's setting switched from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Given the success of the revival, Cannell, Dryer and NBC attempted to bring back Hunter as a regular series. In the weeks following the airing in April 2003 of another TV movie, Hunter: Back in Force, the network broadcast three new one-hour episodes of Hunter. Another two episodes were filmed but never shown in the U.S, likely because the ratings demographics for the one-hour episodes skewed toward older viewers. Dryer subsequently cited creative difficulties and budget constraints.


In the first season and for several subsequent seasons, the pistol that Hunter carries is a Heckler and Koch P9S 9mm with a muzzle compensator attached. It is also the pistol in the title introduction. McCall used a stainless Beretta 90 in the first season. The Walther PPK that McCall uses is most likely a Walther PPK/S. The Desert Eagle that he uses in the occasional episode was a gift from his Mafia father for graduating.

During the first two seasons, he used a Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum and she used a Walther PPK in .32 ACP.

During the second season for a couple of episodes Rick Hunter used a Smith & Wesson 629 in .44 Magnum (2 1/2" bbl).

During one episode of the second season Rick Hunter used a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle in stainless steel with an extended barrel.

During seasons 3 and 4, Rick used Smith & Wesson 629 in .44 Magnum (2 1/2" bbl).

During one episode of the fifth season Dee McCall used a .38 Special S&W Model 60 in this time in stainless steel.

During seasons 5 through 7, Rick used a 9mm Beretta 92F/FS, while during seasons 5 through 6 Dee Dee used a .44 Magnum, Smith & Wesson Model 629 in this time in stainless steel.


In the pilot, Detective Rick Hunter drove a 1978 Dodge Monaco and a 1970 Ford LTD. During the first season, Detective Rick Hunter drove a 1972 Chevrolet Impala, 1971 Chevrolet Nova, 1974 Plymouth Satellite, and a 1978 Chevrolet Impala. During the seasons two through six and one episode during the seventh season, Detective Rick Hunter drove a 1978 Dodge Monaco. This car blew up in the third season & was replaced with an identical one. During the seventh season, Detective Rick Hunter drove a light blue 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria. During the first two seasons, Detective Dee McCall drove a garnet red and bright silver 1984 Dodge Daytona until it caught fire. During seasons three through five, Detective Dee McCall drove a garnet red 1986 Dodge Daytona. During the sixth season, Detective Dee McCall drove a white 1990 Dodge Dynasty.

Episode guide

Season 1 (1984-1985)

Pic Title Original airdate Episode #
"Hunter" September 18, 1984 101
"Hard Contract" September 28, 1984 102
"The Hot Grounder" October 5, 1984 103
"A Long Way From L.A." October 26, 1984 104
"Legacy" November 2, 1984 105
"Flight On A Dead Pigeon" November 9, 1984 106
"Pen Pals" November 16, 1984 107
"Dead or Alive" November 30, 1984 108
"High Bleacher Man" December 7, 1984 109
"The Shooter" January 4, 1985 110
"The Garbage Man" January 11, 1985 111
"The Avenging Angel" January 18, 1985 112
"The Snow Queen: Part 1" March 23, 1985 113
"The Snow Queen: Part 2" March 30, 1985 114
"The Beach Boy" April 6, 1985 115
"Guilty" April 13, 1985 116
"The Last Kill" April 20, 1985 117
"Fire Man" May 11, 1985 118
"Sniper" May 18, 1985 119

Season 2 (1985-6)

  1. Case X
  2. Night of the Dragons
  3. The Biggest Man in Town
  4. Rich Girl
  5. Killer in the Halloween Mask
  6. Rape & Revenge: Part 1
  7. Rape & Revenge: Part 2
  8. Million Dollar Misunderstanding
  9. The Big Fall
  10. Waiting for Mr. Wrong
  11. Think Blue
  12. Blow-Up
  13. War Zone
  14. Burned
  15. Scrap Metal
  16. Fagin 1986
  17. 62 Hours of Terror
  18. Death Machine
  19. The Set Up
  20. The Beautiful & the Dead: Part 1
  21. The Beautiful & the Dead: Part 2
  22. The Return of Typhoon Thompson
  23. Saturday Night Special

Season 3 (1986-7)

  1. Overnight Sensation
  2. Change Partners and Dance
  3. Crime of Passion
  4. The Castro Connection
  5. High Noon in L.A.
  6. From San Francisco with Love
  7. True Confessions
  8. Love, Hate, and Sporty James
  9. The Contract
  10. The Cradle Will Rock
  11. Bad Company
  12. Down and Under
  13. Straight to the Heart
  14. Requiem for Sergeant McCall
  15. Double Exposure
  16. The Girl Next Door
  17. Any Second Now
  18. A Child Is Born
  19. Crossfire
  20. Hot Pursuit: Part 1
  21. Hot Pursuit: Part 2
  22. Shades

Season 4 (1987-8)

  1. Not Just Another John Doe
  2. Playing God
  3. The Jade Woman
  4. Flashpoint
  5. Night on Bald Mountain
  6. City of Passion: Part 1
  7. City of Passion: Part 2
  8. City of Passion: Part 3
  9. Turning Point
  10. Hot Prowl
  11. Allegra
  12. Renegade
  13. The Black Dahlia
  14. Naked Justice: Part 1
  15. Naked Justice: Part 2
  16. Girl on the Beach
  17. The Bogota Million
  18. Death Signs
  19. Boomerang
  20. The Fourth Man
  21. Murder He Wrote
  22. Silver Bullet

Season 5 (1988-9)

  1. Heir of Neglect
  2. The Baby Game
  3. Dead on Target: Part 1
  4. Dead on Target: Part 2
  5. Presumed Guilty
  6. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
  7. Honorable Profession
  8. Payback
  9. Partners
  10. The Pit
  11. City Under Siege: Part 1
  12. City Under Siege: Part 2
  13. City Under Siege: Part 3
  14. Me, Myself & Die
  15. Informant
  16. Blood Line
  17. Shoot to Kill
  18. Code 3
  19. Ring of Honor
  20. Teen Dreams
  21. Last Run
  22. Return of White Cloud

Season 6 (1989-90)

  1. On Air
  2. Shallalagh
  3. Investment in Death
  4. A Girl Named Hunter
  5. The Legion: Part 1
  6. The Legion: Part 2
  7. Yesterday's Child
  8. Shield of Honor
  9. The Fifth Victim
  10. Brotherly Love
  11. The Nightmare
  12. Broken Dreams
  13. Son and Heir
  14. Unacceptable Loss
  15. Unfinished Business
  16. Lullaby
  17. Final Confession
  18. Blind Ambition
  19. Sudden Withdrawal
  20. Second Sight
  21. Street Wise: Part 1
  22. Street Wise: Part 2

Season 7 (1990-1)

  1. Deadly Encounters: Part 1
  2. Deadly Encounters: Part 2
  3. Where Echoes End
  4. Kill Zone
  5. The Incident
  6. A Snitch'll Break Your Heart
  7. Oh, the Shark Bites!
  8. The Usual Suspects
  9. This Is My Gun
  10. La Familia
  11. Acapulco Holiday
  12. Fatal Obsession: Part 1
  13. Fatal Obsession: Part 2
  14. Under Suspicion
  15. The Reporter
  16. Room Service
  17. Shadows of the Past
  18. The Grab
  19. All That Glitters
  20. Cries of Silence
  21. Ex Marks the Spot
  22. Little Man with a Big Reputation

Cast and crew

DVD releases

Anchor Bay Entertainment released the first three seasons of Hunter on Region 1 DVD. The company's Associate Brand Manager said on 9 January 2008, that the company had no plans to release the remaining four seasons.

Season(s) Ep# Region 1 Additional Information
Season One 19 January 11, 2005

  • Brand New Interviews with: Stephen J. Cannell & Stepfanie Kramer

Season Two 23 July 12, 2005
Season Three 22 January 3, 2006

International airings

  • In Australia, the show was shown on the regional station GTS/BKN.
  • In Barbados, the show was shown on CBC TV 8.
  • In Brazil, the show was shown on Rede Globo, dubbed in Portuguese.
  • In China, the show was dubbed in Standard Mandarin and aired on STV. Hunter was one of the first US series to air regularly in China. Although Dryer is still widely recognised in China, his efforts to set a Hunter movie there in the late 1990s did not bear fruit. The Hunter TV series is a favorite of the disgraced former Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong who had quoted the name, character and events of the TV series in various speeches he delievered.
  • In Colombia the series were presented as "El Cazador" (Spanish for (the) Hunter). It was broadcasted by JES productions in Cadena Uno every saturday nigth at 9:45 PM, from 1987 to 1991. The final season never was aired in Colombia.
  • In Costa Rica, the show was shown on Teletica Canal 7 as "El Cazador".
  • In Czech Republic, the show was shown on TV Prima.
  • In France, the show was shown on TF1.
  • In Germany, the show was shown on Sat.1.
  • In Hong Kong, ATV broadcast the show.
  • In Indonesia, the show was shown on TVRI.
  • In the Philippines, the show was aired on RPN-9.
  • In Sweden, the show was shown on TV4.
  • In Turkey, the show was shown on Star TV and Kanal D.
  • In the United Kingdom, the first two seasons aired regionally on terrestrial broadcaster ITV, the remainder on satellite channel Sky One.

External links

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