I recently came into some wealth: all seven seasons of 80s cop show Hunter. My devotion to all things 80s is pretty much canon by now but I have especial love for Stephen J. Cannell productions. The A-Team and Hunter were my jams, man.
I’ve been watching a lot of Hunter lately and I’m learning things. Things about police work, things about evidence, things about fashion, things about undercover work, things about beds. So much information I can’t contain it all. And now I’m going to share it with you. Enlightenment comes in many forms, my pretties, so open your minds to what Hunter and McCall can teach you.
Identity is important.
First of all, if you don’t know who Hunter and McCall are, I don’t even know you. Detective Sergeant Rick Hunter and Detective Sergeant Dee Dee McCall were partners in the homicide division of the LAPD. They worked exclusively in the 80s because only the 80s could contain the magnificent voluminous excess of fashion and shoot-em-up style for which they were known. Rick Hunter was played by Fred Dryer who is a lean giant ex-NFL player of a guy and Dee Dee McCall was played by Stepfanie Kramer who is tiny and brunette and sassy and whose character bore the unfortunate nickname ‘Brass Cupcake’ when the show began. Together they were sort of notorious. You know, not exactly “by the book”.
Evidence is, like, totally not the point, man.
You know how Grissom was always telling the CSIs to follow the evidence because it never lies? Hunter and McCall never met Grissom. And they really never met any solid evidence, either. If they could trace a phone call to a pay phone near a crime scene, they were done. That was as much evidence as anybody in their right mind could ever ask. They talked about evidence a lot: Did they have any evidence? Was there any evidence? They looked for evidence. “Captain, the evidence is obvious.” That kind of thing. But mostly because ‘evidence’ is cop lingo and they were all about cop lingo.
Undercover work is easy.
There are four kinds of undercover identities: crackhead, prostitute, club singer, and bum. Arguably some of those identities kind of cross over in places but those are the four main identities assumed by McCall when called on to go undercover. Always McCall because Hunter, like James Bond, never bothered with identities for longer than a single introduction before giving himself away by either shooting someone or just telling them his real name. McCall spent a lot of the first seasons either pretend-homeless or pretend-strung out and in between she’d sass it up with spiky 80s hair and even more eye makeup and pose as a singer. She never needed credentials or long prep time or anything besides leather pants, really. Undercover work is so easy, you guys! Let’s all do it! Let’s sing punky versions of Buddy Holly songs and bust perps!
Shoulder pads make you more legal.
And by legal I mean law enforcement-esque. Also the higher the hair, the closer to God. Fashion is super important and if you’re a female detective sergeant solving murders on the mean streets of LA, you need to always be on trend, well accessorized, and carry a snazzy purse because where else would you keep your gun? Holsters are so male, you guys. Equality does not extend to fashion. You both do the same job but my god, one of you has to bring the beauty, okay? And despite how many barely-legal little blonde things were scripted to find Hunter “so cute”, he didn’t bring the beauty. McCall brought the sweet shoulder-padded, permed-hair, shiny lipsticked, chunky necklaced, severe blushed, pleated pant hotness. And never forget that. Fashion is the key to law enforcement success.
Exhaust all confrontational avenues before you decide on any serious police strategy.
They liked to knock on doors and get in people’s faces based mostly on hunches and coincidence. When that didn’t always pan out they would resort to undercover work. You know, putting McCall in to sing onstage at the same club owned by the guys they previously already pointlessly strong-armed for shits and giggles. It’s not a problem! You just duck your head when dudes that can ID you as a cop walk by. Just wear a wig and duck your head, you guys. You worry too much. I mean it’s tiring being a singing star so you don’t want to jump into that unless you’re already sure you can’t rattle the truth out of somebody’s cage without evidence.
Shoot first, interrogate later.
When I said they liked to randomly get in people’s faces, they didn’t always do so with words. See, if someone ran from Hunter, they were guilty. And they’d either get beaten up or shot. If Hunter shot somebody, they were dead. Sometimes he’d go to the shooting range and show his prowess at shooting out knees and shoulders but he only spared the lives of innocent paper cutouts, not real perps. If a suspect pulled a gun, they were guilty. If a suspect ran, they were guilty. If a suspect lied, they were guilty. And really, why waste time asking a lot of questions to verify the already-obvious guilt? Just shoot them. You can clear up nagging questions later, in the morgue.
It’s okay to date suspects as long as they’re sexy and afterwards you bust them.
Both Hunter and McCall had terrible taste in romantic partners. They were very prone to dating/bedding people they met in the course of investigations: which is to say, suspects. Sometimes those people ended up being innocent but frequently they ended up guilty. The key was not to be sentimental. Both Hunter and McCall busted sex partners when push came to shove. No harm no foul so long as they remembered their true love was the LAPD (and each other). So, lesson: date dodgy people but once you find evidence (or “find evidence”) they’re guilty of some kind of crime, just bust them.
Beds are for sissies, yo. So is sleep.
This one time Hunter, who was 6’6”, fell asleep on a loveseat which is a lot like Andre the Giant deciding to drive my Smart car and finding it real comfortable. But he sold it, man. He was having the best sleep all folded in half on that loveseat and don’t even think he wasn’t. Another time McCall fell asleep on her couch wearing a robe over her clothes with a full face of makeup on. Mostly, though, they didn’t sleep. They spent a lot of time on pointless surveillance shifts in horrible cars, waking each other up at godawful hours with new hunches to follow, or just sitting at the office shuffling papers. When you’re a cutting edge 80s detective sergeant you don’t have time for sleep. And thus you have no use for beds. Unless you’re in a hotel and one of the sexy suspects wants to fuck you. Then, by all means, do it in a bed and only a bed.
Vehicular transport is a man’s natural enemy.
A running theme of the show was how badly Hunter treated cars. He trashed a staggering number of department-issue vehicles in his time. Part of his ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ persona involved running people down in cars and wantonly driving cars through public parks and over medians and what-have-you. McCall, on the other hand, had the same sporty little red car for duration of the series. So you know that thing people like to say about women drivers? Stick it where the sun don’t shine. Hunter was the worst driver on television. Fact.
For more life lessons, you really should subscribe to the Stephen J. Cannell School of Being Awesome. Everything you need to know in life you can learn from either The A-Team or Hunter. If there’s something they left out, you can pick it up in one of Jean-Luc Picard’s stirring speeches on Star Trek: the Next Generation. I, like Dr. Frank-n-Furter, can make you a maa-aa-a-a-aaan with those simple steps.
- Corinne Simpson