The New Mike Hammer (1986) (NTSC)

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Released 8-Nov-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Bonus Episode-The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (90:28)
Bonus Episode-Mike Hammer: Murder Takes it All (90:02)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 1035:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (7)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ray Danton
Michael Preece
James Frawley
Bruce Kessler
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring Stacey Keach
Lindsay Bloom
Don Stroud
Kent Williams
Case ?
RPI ? Music John Davis
Ron Ramin
Doug Timm


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The New Mike Hammer ran for 4 seasons and 48 episodes on TV between 1984 and 1987. The full title of this 7 DVD collection from ViaVision is Mickey Spillane’s The New Mike Hammer: The Series which is somewhat misleading. What we actually have in this collection is all 22 episodes of season 3 of the show, which aired between September 1986 and May 1987, each episode of approximately 47 minutes, on 6 DVDs. On the 7th DVD are two full length telemovies: The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, shown on 18 April 1986 between season 2 and season 3, and Mike Hammer: Murder Takes it All, shown on 21 May 1989.

     The New Mike Hammer stars Stacey Keach, who is still going strong in 2017 with 209 credits listed on the IMDb. He first played Mike Hammer in the TV movie Murder Me, Murder You in 1983; he is to my mind rather too light weight, likeable and charming, not menacing or brutal enough as Spillane’s hard boiled tough guy. However, he has charisma and in the context of a TV series he is pretty good; you could not have too much violence on TV in the 1980s, only shootings without blood and punches which don’t break any bones. Other continuing cast members are Lindsay Bloom as Hammer’s secretary Velda, Don Stroud as Police Captain Pat Chambers and Kent Williams as Special Prosecutor Lawrence D. Barrington. Each episode also adds guest stars; most of whom are not very familiar although exceptions include Cornel Wilde right at the end of his career, singer George Benson, comic Arte Johnson of Laugh-In fame, Bo Hopkins (The Wild Bunch) and Claude Atkins, while the episode “Deadly Collection” showcases the non-acting of Micky Dolenz of The Monkeys.

     Each episode is stand alone; there are no continuing story lines (except for a mysterious woman who appears in most episodes, drifting through a scene) and no character development. Some episodes come about when people hire Mike to find somebody but often it is Hammer in the wrong place at an inappropriate time. The quality of the episodes varies due to the different writers and different directors. Some episodes are excellent television, such as “To Kill a Friend” or “Who Killed Sister Lorna?”, others such as “Murder in the Cards” try for funny dialogue and come up sounding silly while “Harlem Nocturne” is almost an extended music video! The episode “A Face in the Night” is different for a couple of reasons; not only does Mike get to meet that mysterious woman from the other episodes, it also features the most ludicrous and irritating “Oostralian” accent and colloquialisms you are ever likely to hear.

     Each episode involves a murder and a mystery to be solved mostly, but not always, told from the POV of Hammer complete with his voice-over narration so that in most instances the story develops for the audience as Hammer puts the pieces together, the resolution often involving a twist as the real villain is revealed. Some episodes are a bit different, such as “Kill John Doe” which involves the KGI and US Security, but most are set firmly within the streets and usual denizens of New York; the police, wise guys, the wealthy and elite of New York who mostly are more corrupt and devious than the wise guys, while Mike has more than his fair share of beautiful, often dangerous and devious, women. Indeed, one of the strengths of the series is the location filming on the streets and along the Bay of New York harbour; it is interesting seeing how New York looked in the late 1980s. Occasionally the location changes; in “The Last Laugh” Mike goes the L.A., which is mostly an excuse to show surf and bikinis and have The Beach Boys on the audio track. And of course, it would not be the 1980s without huge gas-guzzling cars and women with big, big hair and massive padded shoulders.

     The New Mike Hammer may not be top notch television but it is an entertaining series with wry humour, murder, mystery, shootouts, action during which quite a few cars are destroyed, some interesting stories and excellent New York locations. Big cars, big hair and padded shoulders: welcome to the 1980s!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The New Mike Hammer is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, 4x3 in the NTSC format.

     The DVD cover notes that “every possible effort has been made to produce the highest quality DVD release. Due to the quality of some of the original elements, some visual imperfections will be experienced”. That said, the series looks pretty good. Detail is on the soft side and colours are rather washed out, and while there are a few flecks and marks here and there including hairs they are not distracting. Contrast and brightness does vary, as do skin tones, and there is minor interlacing, the most prevalent in “Mike Gets Married”. However, the main issue is that the print is often quite dark, so shadow detail in the night scenes can be non-existent. For example, in the episode “Deirdre” when a man wakes up and moves across his apartment to open the door the screen is almost black, “Lady Killer” has a number of indistinct scenes, which is not good when a murder is occurring, while in “Requiem for Billy” in the opening sequence at night in the woods it is almost impossible to see what is happening.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
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Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     Dialogue is clear. The effects, such as engines, shots and punches, are flattish but acceptable. The series’ jazzy title track, Harlem Nocturne by Earle Hagen is very effective. Music within the episodes is provided by a range of composers including John Davis, Ron Ramin and Doug Timm and is fairly generic.

    Lip synchronisation was fine. Pops and hisses were absent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras as such but Disc 7 contains two complete telemovies. Both are in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, 4x3, NTSC with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. While there is a little aliasing, the TV movies look pretty good with only minimal marks.

The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (90:28)

     A blonde six year old girl is abducted in New York. The next day Mike is in the right place to prevent the abduction of Megan (Emily Chance), another blonde six year old who is the daughter of movie star Joanna Lake (Lauren Hutton). Joanna, fearful of another attempt, hires Mike to come with them when they return to L.A. However Mike is unable to prevent Megan being kidnapped; attempting to get Megan back leads Mike into something far wider than extortion which has its origins in the Vietnam War.

     The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer was directed by Ray Danton with music by Earle Hagen. In addition to the usual cast from the TV series, Stacey Keach, Lindsay Bloom, Don Stroud and Kent Williams, the film adds Mike Preston (Mad Max 2) in a prominent role while veteran Mickey Rooney has a cameo.

Mike Hammer: Murder Takes it All (90:02)

     Mike is drugged and abducted in New York and dropped into Las Vegas where an old acquaintance with mob connections Johnny Roman (Ed Winter) is hosting a telethon raising money for the children’s charity run by Dr Carl Durant (John Calvin). Johnny denies that he was responsible for having Mike abducted; Mike is unconvinced but when Johnny is murdered it seems that someone has set up Mike to take the fall. Mike is arrested but is bailed out by Helen Durant (Lynda Carter), Carl Durant’s wife, who needs Mike’s help. As Mike seeks the real killer to clear his name he comes into contact with Helen’s daughter Amy (Stacy Galina) and her boyfriend Brad Peters (Jim Carey), but as the bodies continue to pile up Mike seems no closer to finding out just what is happening.

     Mike Hammer: Murder Takes it All was directed by John Nicolella with music by Ron Ramin. The usual cast from the TV series, Stacey Keach, Lindsay Bloom and Don Stroud, appear and there are a number of other familiar faces in the cast including Lynda Carter (who played Wonder Woman on TV between 1975 and 1979), an early appearance by a very young looking Jim Carrey (he plays an accountant but there are a number of jokes in the script about him wanting to be a comedian) and Michelle Phillips (from The Mamas and the Papas).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There are various collections of this TV series listed on Amazon.com. None seem to be directly comparable to our release from ViaVision but as it is NTSC and Region Free a similar collection was likely to have been released in the US.

Summary

     Nostalgic for the time on TV when P.I. shows such as 77 Sunset Strip, The Streets of San Francisco or Hawaii Five-0 reigned? I have no memory of The New Mike Hammer showing on Australian television, but I could have missed it. In any case, it is an entertaining, sometimes exciting series with murders, tough guys, police, wise guys, the corrupt wealthy and elite of New York, beautiful and dangerous women (if you can get past the huge hair styles and bigger padded shoulders) and interesting New York locations. Fans should enjoy this 7 DVD set containing all 22 episodes of season 3 plus two full length telemovies.

    The video is reasonable, the audio the original mono. No extras as such but the two full length telemovies are welcome.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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