Strike Force (TV series)

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Strike Force
Strike Force 1981.png
Theme music composer Dominic Frontiere
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • E. Duke Vincent
  • Elaine Rich
Running time60 minutes
Production company Aaron Spelling Productions
Original network ABC
Original releaseApril 2, 1981 (1981-04-02) 
May 21, 1982 (1982-05-21)

Strike Force is an American action-adventure/police procedural television series that aired on ABC during the 1981–1982 television season, and was produced by Aaron Spelling Productions. The program starred Robert Stack as Capt. Frank Murphy, the leader of a specialized unit of detectives and police officers whose job is to stop violent criminals at any cost (usually with a hail of gunfire).



Mixing elements of Stack's classic television series The Untouchables from 20 years earlier with doses of Mission: Impossible and Dirty Harry , Strike Force immediately provoked controversy over its violence – at one point the series was labeled the most violent in American TV history.[ citation needed ] The series attempted to balance the violence by interjecting liberal amounts of humor into its regular characters and focusing on the detectives' personal lives. [1]


Guest stars

Notable guest stars during the series run included:


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Pilot"Richard LangLane SlateNovember 13, 1981 (1981-11-13)
Five bizarre and brutal decapitations bring together the Sheriff's Department, LAPD, and the Highway Patrol as a special strike force. Headed by Captain Frank Murphy, the force begins their investigation -- their only clue is that each victim served on the jury of an embezzlement case.
2"Kidnap" Lawrence Dobkin Michael FisherNovember 20, 1981 (1981-11-20)
The team is tipped off about a kidnapping by Frank's ex-partner, a souse who claims he also witnessed a murder. This episode was directed by Lawrence Dobkin, who portrayed gangster Dutch Schultz in three episodes of Stack's ABC series The Untouchables , [10] and who also directed another Strike Force episode — "Fallen Angel". [10]
3"The Victims"Lane SlateLane SlateNovember 27, 1981 (1981-11-27)
The Force gambles that money will motivate a woman to set up her colleagues in crime.
4"The Predator"Richard LangCalvin Clements Jr.December 4, 1981 (1981-12-04)
Murphy plays on the emotional insecurity of a sadistic rapist who stalks his victims in supermarkets.
5"Magic Man"Richard LangE. Nick AlexanderDecember 11, 1981 (1981-12-11)
A dealer uses marijuana and pills to lure teenagers into pushing harder drugs to their friends.
6"Night Nurse" Cliff Bole Michael FisherDecember 18, 1981 (1981-12-18)
Patients have been dying inexplicably at four hospitals — including the one where Klein is taken following a heart attack.
7"The Hollow Man"Richard LangWilliam Douglas LansfordDecember 25, 1981 (1981-12-25)
A bomber sends Klein a photographic clue to his next target, and then pays him a visit.
8"The Outcasts"Don ChaffeyStory by: T J. Miles
Teleplay by: T J. Miles & Gene Hanson
January 8, 1982 (1982-01-08)
Strobber shoots a teenage robber whose racist partners swear revenge in a taped message left on the body of a slain Black cop.
9"Ice"Cliff BoleJeffrey BloomJanuary 15, 1982 (1982-01-15)
An international hit man plays cat and mouse with Frank, who has 48 hours to determine his target.
10"Internal Affairs" Bob Sweeney Les CarterJanuary 22, 1982 (1982-01-22)
Clues in a string of jewelry-store robberies point to on-duty policemen -- and the captain of Internal Affairs — who try to pin the crimes on Gunzer.
11"Lonely Ladies"Bob SweeneyWilliam HopkinsFebruary 5, 1982 (1982-02-05)
The common element in a series of rape-murders is that the victims were last seen in singles bars.
12"Fallen Angel"Lawrence DobkinStory by: Robert Brennan
Teleplay by: Joe Gores
February 12, 1982 (1982-02-12)
A murderous cult is alerted to a police investigation by the mayor's premature press conference.
13"Shark"Cliff BoleStory by: Ron Friedman & George R. Hodges
Teleplay by: Ron Friedman
February 19, 1982 (1982-02-19)
Muggings of the elderly go unchecked until a councilwoman is murdered trying to stop an attack.
14"Turnabout"Cliff BoleStory by: Fenton Hobart Jr.
Teleplay by: Calvin Clements Jr.
February 26, 1982 (1982-02-26)
A mobster's right-hand man uses Murphy's ex-wife to contact him about becoming a government-protected witness.
15"The John Killer"Don ChaffeyStory by: F. Michael Johnson & E. Byrne
Teleplay by: Michael Fisher & Calvin Clements Jr.
March 5, 1982 (1982-03-05)
Conventioneers are being murdered by someone masquerading as a call girl.
16"Humiliation"Robert GistBill StrattonMarch 19, 1982 (1982-03-19)
Young muggers out on bail terrorize witnesses scheduled to testify against them.
17"Deadly Chemicals"Charles PicerniStory by: William Douglas Lansford
Teleplay by: Bill Stratton
March 26, 1982 (1982-03-26)
Prison escapees hijack a military van, unaware of the contents: refrigerated germ-warfare cultures.
18"Revenge"Don ChaffeyRick KelbaughApril 2, 1982 (1982-04-02)
A high-school girl left for dead by kidnappers provides the break in a series of abductions.
19"Chinatown" Mike Vejar Calvin Clements Jr.April 9, 1982 (1982-04-09)
Gunzer and his girlfriend are wounded by hit men and the street talk is the girl was the target.
20"Death Fare"Don ChaffeyStory by: Glen Olson & Rod Baker
Teleplay by: Bill Stratton & Michael Fisher
April 16, 1982 (1982-04-16)
A policeman's widow is terrorized by phone calls from a man who claims to be her husband trying to avenge his "death".


Although initially popular, the novelty of the series quickly wore off; [3] only 19 episodes were produced, plus the 90-minute pilot. [11] According to Todd Gitlin's 1983 book Inside Prime Time, Strike Force finished a dismal 76 out of 105 shows in the Nielsen ratings for the 1981–82 season. [12]

Another factor in the series' demise was the competition: ABC pitted Strike Force against the successful CBS soap-opera Falcon Crest , which had, as its lead-in, the then-number one show on television, Dallas .

Home media

The first episode of Strike Force was released on video in North America in the late 1980s.[ citation needed ]

As of 2018, there has been no official DVD release of this series, though there have been several requests for its release,[ citation needed ] and bootleg copies have circulated in the "collectors market" for the last three decades since Strike Force's cancellation. [2] [13] [14] [15] [16]

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