DVD: THE BEST OF B.L. STRYKER (Two “Classic Episodes”)
Reviewed by Michael Shonk


B.L. STRYKER. Universal. Part of the rotating series in ABC Mystery Movie (with Columbo, Kojak, Gideon Oliver, Christine Cromwell) February 1989 through August 1990. Two seasons; 12 episodes, two hours each. CAST: Burt Reynolds as B.L. (Buddy Lee) Stryker, Ossie Davis as Oz Jackson, Rita Moreno as Kimberly, Michael O. Smith as Chief McGee. Created by Christopher Crowe. Executive Producer: Tom Selleck. Co-Executive Producer: Burt Reynolds. Supervising Executive Producer: William Link. Producer: Alan Barnette. Story Editor: Joe Gores.

“The Dancer’s Touch” (February 13, 1989) Guest Cast: Helen Shaver as Diane. Teleplay by Leon Piedmont and Walter Klenhard and Chriss Abbott. Story by Leon Piedmont. Directed by William Fraker.


   As a New Orleans cop, Stryker could get into the mind of the bad guy until he would know the bad guy’s next move before he did. After too many bad guys in his head, Stryker snapped and beat a rapist nearly to death. Now he tries to make it through the day living on a broken down houseboat on the “wrong side of the river” of his hometown, Palm Beach. Helping him is his best friend, a washed up boxer, Oz Jackson.

   But Stryker’s past has caught up with him as a rapist, using the exact same methods as the one from New Orleans, is attacking rich young girls on the “right side of the river” of Palm Beach.

   The chemistry between Reynolds and Davis and the relationship between their characters is special and their scenes together are the best this show has to offer. Sadly, it is not enough to overcome the weak mystery, bad melodrama, predictable twists, and a sea of cliches.


   The supporting cast features such overused types as the frustrated Police Chief who looks the other way while Stryker gets things done, the rich annoying ex-wife, the ex-wife’s maid who speaks her mind, and the comedy relief neighbor.

   The story fails at nearly every level. For example, there are several scenes with the wacko rapist alone dancing in the dark. The purpose is to make the villain creepy and menacing but instead the scenes induce laughter.

   The killer was easy to guess since there were no suspects. The victims were obvious. Every twist was predictable. That is except for Stryker, who was as clueless as the mystery, and only defeated the killer-rapist because he was suicidal.

“Carolann” (March 6, 1989) Guest Cast: Deborah Raffin as Carolann. Written by Hall Powell and Jay Huguely. Directed by Tony Wharmby.

   Carefree ex-cop Stryker gets his first case as a PI when he saves the life of a Queen of a Middle East country, whose gun running King had just been killed. By coincidence the Queen just happens to be the little sister of Stryker’s childhood best friend.


   This is a slow tedious two hours with a story featuring more padding than mystery. Why bother with suspects when the story can focus on the reminisces and romance between the just yesterday widow and her childhood crush, Stryker?

   How about a subplot with Stryker fixing up Oz with his ex-wife’s maid? You want action? Watch the Queen seduce Stryker with a cigar. Watch the two exchange long, long, long silent but meaningful looks. Detective work? How about a montage of Oz searching “the streets” for someone while Mike Post’s soundtrack screams in the background?

   This episode introduces Stryker’s screwball secretary to run his office in a beachfront condemned building. Lyynda, with a photographic memory and too cute name, will take the job only if her dog stays with her.


   Stryker hates dogs. After that Stryker takes the dog with him everywhere, including when he and his comic relief neighbor, now millionaire computer genius, sneak into the police station to illegally use the Chief’s computer.

   As for the ending, everyone involved should be in jail for theft.

   This “Best Of” DVD is a major disappointment considering William Link (Colombo) and Joe Gores (Hammett) worked on this series, and Robert B. Parker (Spenser) and his wife Joan H. Parker wrote the Edgar nominated episode “Blues For Buder.”

   The entire series is available on DVD, but suffering through these two episodes is enough for me.