Strike Force (TV series)

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 special unit of specialized 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, the series immediately provoked controversy over its violence – at one point the series was labeled the most violent in American TV history – though the series attempted to interject liberal amounts of humor into its regular characters and balanced the violence by focusing on the detectives' personal lives.

Strike Force
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • E. Duke Vincent
  • Elaine Rich
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Aaron Spelling Productions
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkABC
Original releaseApril 2, 1981 (1981-04-02) 
May 21, 1982 (1982-05-21)


  • Series star Robert Stack's character, SCPD Det. Capt. Frank Murphy, is the head of the special Strike Force unit. He is a tough, incorruptible cop, tenacious and efficient on the job, but whose personal life is as unkempt as the home he lives in. He is a recent divorcé who is stuck with a house that was painted pink by his ex-wife, Eve, (who left him for a career in show business, but whom he still obviously loves dearly), where he lives with Sam, his scruffy, oversized, beer-drinking dog (whose main source of nutrition appears to be a brand of dog food labeled "Doggone It").[1] He is as tough as nails, but caring and fair...and loyal to the people under his command.[2] Capt. Murphy's favorite food was chili dogs (which he seems to "require" everyone on his team of "Strike Force" detectives to eat)...and his constant nemesis was the squad room soda machine, which seemed to work for everyone in the precinct but him...and is a running joke in the series.
  • Det. Sgt. Paul Strobber, played by Dorian Harewood, is the only married member of the team, and the most serious; A loving family man, with a wife and young son, but easily the most fearless and dangerous Strike Force member on the street. He is like a coiled spring, ready to strike when provoked, as he did when his family was threatened by White Supremacists in the episode "The Outcasts"[3][4] He likes to wear turtleneck sweaters instead of ties, and hates Murphy's chili dog diet, refusing to share in it.
  • Det. Sgt. Rosie Johnson, played by former Australian teen singing star Trisha Noble,[5][6][7][8] is tough, curvaceous, and beautiful...and very much a lady. She became a police officer after her husband went missing in Vietnam and enjoys making-and-deflecting- jokes about her bust size. She is crazy about Gunzer, and often tries to get him to notice her.
  • Det. Lt. Charlie Gunzer, played by Richard Romanus, is the group's free- spending ladies man, with a dry, wicked sense of humor, who Rosie likes, but is afraid to tell him. He likes fast cars (in one episode, he bought a Mercedes SL sports car)...and faster women, and looks upon the chaste Rosie as nothing more than a friend and colleague.
  • Michael Goodwin plays Det. Sgt. Mark Osborne, the youngest member of the team...and clearly the most "normal" in this dynamic, yet dysfunctional group.[9] Called "The Kid" by Gunzer, he is a dedicated police officer whose favorite food is chocolate chip cookies. He likes Rosie, and has asked her out at least once, but to no avail.
  • Herb Edelman played Deputy Police Commissioner Herbert Klein, the immediate superior of the Strike Force, and a close personal friend to Capt. Murphy. A dedicated cop and family man, Herb was cited several times for valor in his early career, but seemed to have lost his taste for the violence in the streets, and now is content simply to stay behind a desk and wait out his time until retirement. He is also an amateur author, who often asked Murphy his opinion on the novels he writes, that strangely never seem to ever get published.

Although initially popular, the novelty of the series quickly wore off; only 19 episodes were produced, plus the 90-minute pilot.[10] 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.[11] The first episode was released on video in North America in the late 1980s. Another factor in the series' demise was the competition: Strike Force was pitted by ABC against the successful CBS soap-opera Falcon Crest, which had, as its lead in, the then # 1 show on television, "Dallas".

As of 2018 there has been no official DVD release of this series, though there have been several requests for its release and bootleg copies have circulated in the "collectors market" for the last three decades since its cancellation.[1][12][13][14][15][16][17]

Composers (incomplete listing): Dominic Frontiere (1.1, and series theme), John E. Davis, Allyn Ferguson, Mark Snow, Nelson Riddle (1.15).

Guest stars

Notable guest stars during the series run included:


No.TitleOriginal air date
1"Strike Force: Pilot"November 13, 1981 (1981-11-13)
2"Kidnap"November 20, 1981 (1981-11-20)
3"The Victims"November 27, 1981 (1981-11-27)
4"The Predator"December 4, 1981 (1981-12-04)
5"Magic Man"December 11, 1981 (1981-12-11)
6"Night Nurse"December 18, 1981 (1981-12-18)
7"The Hollow Man"December 25, 1981 (1981-12-25)
8"The Outcasts"January 8, 1982 (1982-01-08)
9"Ice"January 15, 1982 (1982-01-15)
10"Internal Affairs"January 22, 1982 (1982-01-22)
11"Lonely Ladies"February 5, 1982 (1982-02-05)
12"Fallen Angel"February 12, 1982 (1982-02-12)
13"Shark"February 19, 1982 (1982-02-19)
14"Turnabout"February 26, 1982 (1982-02-26)
15"The John Killer"March 5, 1982 (1982-03-05)
16"Humiliation"March 19, 1982 (1982-03-19)
17"Deadly Chemicals"March 26, 1982 (1982-03-26)
18"Revenge"April 2, 1982 (1982-04-02)
19"Chinatown"April 9, 1982 (1982-04-09)
20"Death Fare"April 16, 1982 (1982-04-16)


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