The Streets of San Francisco
GenreCrime drama
Based onPoor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston[1]
Developed byEdward Hume
Directed byWilliam Hale
StarringKarl Malden
Michael Douglas (Season 1-4)
Richard Hatch (Season 5)
Theme music composerPatrick Williams
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes121 (list of episodes)
Running time44 minutes
Production companiesQM Productions
Warner Bros. Television
(season 1)
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 16, 1972 (1972-09-16) –
June 9, 1977 (1977-06-09)

The Streets of San Francisco is an American television crime drama filmed on location in San Francisco and produced by Quinn Martin Productions, with the first season produced in association with Warner Bros. Television (QM produced the show on its own for the remainder of its run).

It starred Karl Malden and Michael Douglas as two homicide inspectors in San Francisco. The show ran for five seasons on ABC between 1972 and 1977, amassing a total of 119 60-minute episodes.[2] Douglas left the series at the start of its final season, and was replaced by Richard Hatch.

The series started with a pilot movie of the same title (based on the 1972 detective novel Poor, Poor Ophelia[3][4] by Carolyn Weston) a week before the series debuted. Edward Hume, who wrote the teleplay for the pilot, was credited as having developed the series based on characters in Weston's novel. The pilot featured guest stars Robert Wagner, Tom Bosley, and Kim Darby.


The Streets of San Francisco premiered on ABC on Saturday, September 16, 1972, at 9 pm Eastern, competing against the popular CBS sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. After Streets gained attention on Saturday nights during the first season, the show was moved to Thursday, where it stayed for the remainder of its run, beginning with the second season, competing against other successful 1970s crime dramas, in different timeslots.

By all accounts, Malden and Douglas developed a strong professional and personal relationship from their time on the series. Twenty years after last working together on an episode, they were both onstage at the 1996 People's Choice Awards. Malden referred to Douglas as "the son I never had" and mentioned that he had wanted producer Quinn Martin to cast Douglas on the series. Douglas responded to the compliment by calling Malden "my mentor", and both expressed that they enjoyed working together on the show.

The show revolved around two police officers who investigated homicides in San Francisco. The center of the series was a veteran cop and widower, Lt. Michael Stone, star #897 (played by Malden), who had more than 20 years of police experience and was now assigned to the homicide detail of the San Francisco Police Department's Bureau of Inspectors. He was partnered with a young inspector and energetic partner, Inspector Steve Keller, star #2248 (played by Douglas), a college graduate, aged 28, who had little experience on the police force. Stone became a second father to Keller as he learned the rigors and procedures of detective work. Eventually, Keller was promoted to full inspector. As the series progressed, Douglas became a star in his own right. Mike's daughter, Jeannie Stone (Darleen Carr), made occasional appearances.

After the second episode of the fifth and final season, Douglas left the show after successfully producing the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won the Academy Award for Best Film for 1975.[2] He, in turn, also established a film career. His character's absence was explained by having him take a teaching position at UC Berkeley, a local college, while Lt. Stone was partnered with another Inspector, Inspector Dan Robbins (Hatch). Hatch started his career on the ABC soap All My Children and later went on to Battlestar Galactica. The change was not popular with audiences, and the show ended in 1977 due to declining ratings and increased production costs. Additionally in 1977, writer James J. Sweeney won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for the season-four episode "Requiem for Murder".[5] The series was sponsored by Ford Motor Company, and half of the vehicles shown were new Ford cars. In the early episodes, Keller and Stone drove a brown 1971 Ford Galaxie four-door sedan and the entire SFPD cruiser fleet consists of Ford Galaxies.

On January 27, 1992, a reunion TV movie titled Back to the Streets of San Francisco was aired. Douglas did not appear. However, Darleen Carr did return as Mike Stone's daughter Jeannie.


Douglas (left) as Steve Keller, with Janice Rule as Beverly Landau in "The First Day of Forever" (season one, episode two)

Guest stars

Malden (right) as Mike Stone, with David Wayne as Wally Sensibaugh in "In the Midst of Strangers" (Season 1, Episode 8)

Many actors guest-starred on the show; some were relatively unknown at the time and became successful stars in their own feature films or television series. Among them:

Michael Douglas's mother Diana Douglas guest-starred in the season two episode "Chapel of the Damned".

Broadcast history

Main article: List of The Streets of San Francisco episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen Ratings
First airedLast aired
PilotSeptember 16, 1972 (1972-09-16)N/A
126September 23, 1972 (1972-09-23)April 12, 1973 (1973-04-12)#56/ 15.5 rating[6]
223September 13, 1973 (1973-09-13)March 14, 1974 (1974-03-14)#22/ 20.8 rating
323September 12, 1974 (1974-09-12)March 13, 1975 (1975-03-13)#22/ 21.3 rating
423September 11, 1975 (1975-09-11)March 18, 1976 (1976-03-18)#26/ 20.7 rating
524September 30, 1976 (1976-09-30)June 9, 1977 (1977-06-09)#52/ 18.0 rating
Television filmJanuary 27, 1992 (1992-01-27)TBA
Sep 1972 – Jan 1973: Sat at 9:00–10:00 ET
Jan 1973 – Aug 1974: Thu at 10:00–11:00 ET
Sep 1974 – Sep 1976: Thu at 9:00–10:00 ET
Sep 1976 – Jun 1977: Thu at 10:00–11:00 ET[8]

When the series debuted, it was slotted as counter programming opposite CBS' popular Saturday-night situation comedies, but failed to build an audience. The two-hour pilot movie ranked 58 out of 65 programs telecast that week,[9] while the first regular episode of the series fared even lower at 62nd of 65 programs.[10] In January 1973, ABC shook up its lineup by shuffling a number of its programs around. The Streets of San Francisco moved to Thursday night, and immediately increased its viewership to an 18.1 rating and 31 percent share of the audience.[11] Over the next three years, the series flourished on Thursday, ranking number 22 for its second and third seasons and number 26 for its fourth. For the 1976-77 television season, ABC made the strategic error of moving the show up one hour, placing it in direct competition with Barnaby Jones, another Quinn Martin Production. The two crime dramas virtually split their audience with Barnaby Jones ranking 49th and The Streets of San Francisco falling to 52nd of 104 shows for the season.[12] The decline in viewership, coupled with steadily rising production costs and a new contract for star Karl Malden, prompted ABC to cancel the series.

In the United Kingdom, The Streets of San Francisco debuted on November 19, 1973, on ITV.

Home media

Region 1 / Region 4

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released all five seasons of The Streets of San Francisco on DVD in Region 1, and the first two seasons in Region 4. All seasons have been released in two volume sets.

On May 9, 2017, CBS DVD released The Streets of San Francisco- The Complete series on DVD in Region 1.[13]

DVD Name Ep # the Release dates
Region 1 Region 4
Season 1, Volume 1 16 April 10, 2007 October 1, 2009
Season 1, Volume 2 13 September 25, 2007 October 1, 2009
Season 2, Volume 1 11 July 1, 2008 October 1, 2009
Season 2, Volume 2 12 November 11, 2008 October 1, 2009
Season 3, Volume 1 11 July 3, 2012 N/A
Season 3, Volume 2 12 July 3, 2012 N/A
Season 4, Volume 1 11 August 28, 2012 N/A
Season 4, Volume 2 12 August 28, 2012 N/A
Season 5, Volume 1 12 October 30, 2012 N/A
Season 5, Volume 2 12 October 30, 2012 N/A
Seasons 1-3 73 2017 N/A
Complete Series 122 May 9, 2017 N/A

Region 2

Paramount Home Entertainment has released the first two seasons of Streets of San Francisco on DVD in the UK.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 26 August 18, 2008[14]
Season 2 23 September 14, 2009[15]


  1. ^ "'Poor, Poor, Ophelia' by Carolyn Weston". Kirkus Reviews. February 1, 1971. Archived from the original on October 14, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Brebner, Anne; Morrison, John (March 2011). "Aspect Ratio". Blip TV. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  3. ^ "Carolyn Weston". Brash Books. Archived from the original on October 14, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Pierce, J. Kingston (February 6, 2015). "Pierce's Picks: "Poor, Poor Ophelia"". Archived from the original on October 14, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  5. ^ "Edgar Allan Poe Award | Lincoln City Libraries".
  6. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1972-73 TV Ratings".
  7. ^ "Weekly Nielsen Ratings: 1991-92 TV Season". Ryan Ratings. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  8. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows : 1946–Present (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 593. ISBN 0-345-25525-9.
  9. ^ "NBC is first out of the chute in new Nielsens" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 2, 1972. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 9, 1972. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  11. ^ "'Burnett' gains in rescheduling" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 5, 1973. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  12. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 25, 1977. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Streets of San Francisco The Complete Series". TV Shows On DVD. Archived from the original on March 15, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  14. ^ "Streets of San Francisco: Season 1". Amazon. August 18, 2008. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  15. ^ "The Streets Of San Francisco: Season 2". Amazon. September 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2022. Retrieved September 16, 2017.