By Chaz Lipp
One of the most recognizable and respected leading men in cinematic history, James Stewart first transitioned to television in 1971 with a short-lived sitcom called The Jimmy Stewart Show. It ran for one 24-episode season on NBC. While Warner Bros. holds the distribution rights, the series is currently unavailable on home video.
As it turned out, Hawkinswas generally well received and Stewart picked up a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama Series. Now fans can enjoy all eight movies, which run approximately 73 minutes each (commercials brought the original broadcast running time to 90 minutes). Each movie is a standalone affair. Hawkins is called in, accompanied by his cousin and assistant R.J. Hawkins (Strother Martin), to defend an accused murderer. In one case (“Candidate for Murder”), his client is a political campaign manager who allegedly murdered a reporter. In another (“Die, Darling, Die”), Hawkins defends a widow who may or may not have deliberately withheld her husband’s medication, resulting in a fatal heart attack. One case is a little more personal (“Murder on the 13th Floor”), due to the accused being the son of Hawkins’ former love interest. But we never really learn all that much about Hawkins as a character.
Warner Archive’s four-disc set is manufactured-on-demand, meaning your copy isn’t pressed until you order it. The original broadcast ratio of 1.37:1 has been preserved. As is customary for Warner Archive releases, not much clean-up work has been done. The image (and mono audio) is nonetheless more than adequate. There are no extra features. Hawkins is old-fashioned, vintage primetime drama that will provide a nostalgic kick for James Stewart enthusiasts.