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Ghost Canyon

'B.L. Stryker - The Complete First Season'
(Burt Reynolds, et al / DVD / NR / 2008 / Hart Sharp Video)p> Overview: Burt Reynolds is one of the most enduring stars in Hollywood, making scores of movies over 40 years. Starring roles in The Longest Yard, Semi-Tough, Smokey and the Bandits and countless other action and comedy hits made him one of the biggest male stars of the the '70's and 80's. His role in Boogie Nights in 1997 reinvigorated his career.

DVD Verdict: I'm a big fan of TV mysteries, so I was very happy to see Arts Alliance America releasing the first season (five 2-hour episodes) of this very underrated mystery series. Burt Reynolds fans (who know what he can do when given solid material) and TV mystery aficionados should grab this one!

"B.L. Stryker" only lasted two seasons (as long as the "ABC Mystery Movie" lasted) but can and should have gone far longer, even after the umbrella series was axed. "Stryker" was a terrific series, the best by far of any of the ABC Mystery Movie segments (including the Columbo revival, and I'm a Columbo fan!) with strong talent in front of and behind the camera.

Tom Selleck co-produced, the scripts were strong by the likes of Robert B. Parker ("Spenser: For Hire" and the "Jesse Stone" series) and Joe Gores, and the directors included Hal Needham. And this series is among the best that Burt Reynolds ever did, solid mysteries with a light comic touch (but never buffoonish comedy). The cast had a terrifically smooth chemistry from the start, including Ossie Davis as Stryker's best friend and retired boxer Oz (whose character really grounded the show and humanized the potentially cliche Stryker PI character), Dana Kaminski as Stryker's wannabe-actress/secretary Lynnda, Rita Moreno as Stryker's glamorous ex-wife Kimberly, Michael O. Smith as the local police Chief McGee, and Alfie Wise as the nouveau riche neighbor whose toys (planes, cars, SUVs) always ended up getting destroyed during Stryker's cases. And the guest cast included Kristy Swanson, Helen Shaver, Maureen Stapleton, Neil Patrick Harris (before Doogie Howser) and many others.

The pilot episode is much darker in tone and violence than the rest of the series, and the true tone of the series and the full cast of characters aren't established until the second episode. If you're a mystery fan or a Burt Reynolds fan, do yourself a favor and buy the First Season (with five 2-hour episodes) when you see it, so that sales will dictate Arts Alliance releasing Season 2 (with seven episodes, several among the best of the series).

The video is clear and the episodes are unedited, and as a bonus there's PDF scripts of three of the episodes. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.