An '80s crime show focusing on the unlikely team of retired judge Milton Hardcastle (Brian Keith) and ex-con race car driver Mark McCormick (Daniel-Hugh Kelly). When McCormick's mentor Flip Johnson is murdered and the prototype race car he designed stolen, McCormick steals it back but is caught and arrested. Hardcastle, the judge who originally sentenced him, proposes a deal: Mark will be remanded to Hardcastle's custody if he helps the judge track down 200 criminals in his files who got off on technicalities—beginning with the guy who killed Mark's mentor. Mark grudgingly agrees, and a partnership is born. Oh and once the car is returned to Flip's daughter, she promptly gives it to Mark, so they have a flashy fast car to catch bad guys with, a prerequisite for a 1980's action series.
The series lasted three years, with Milt and Mark chasing down the bad guys—who, despite the series premise, mostly did not come from the judge's files—while developing a contentious but solid friendship. The final episode concludes with Mark attending law school due to the judge's influence.
Hardcastle and McCormick provides examples of:
- Boxing Episode: "The Boxer"
- Busman's Holiday: Repeatedly, but most dramatically in the third season opener, where they are stranded in the wilderness by a plane crash and chased by killers.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Hardcastle's acidic housekeeper Sarah, who vanished without explanation six episodes into season one.
- Clear My Name: While both of the guys wind up in jail more than once in the course of the series, the major example of this trope is in the Christmas Episode "Hate the Picture, Love the Frame", where Hardcastle is framed for murder.
- Cool Car: The Coyote, a shiny red custom racecar.
- The Season One car was based on a kit called the Manta Montage, which itself was based on a McLaren racer. Due to the car being so cramped, the Season 2 and 3 car was based on a larger sports car, a 1981 DeLorean.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mark. His mouth gets him in trouble at least once an episode.
- Disappeared Dad: Mark's father walked out on him when he was five; Mark hunts him up as an adult and discovers that the man is no more reliable now than he was then.
- Doomed Autographed Item: In one episode, McCormick's negligence leads to Hardcastle's house being burgled and just about everything he owns being stolen; including a basketball autographed by Wilt Chamberlin, which is the item he is most upset about losing.
- Fatal Attractor: Mark's taste in women runs to the criminal, the manipulative, and the lethally ditzy.
- Friend on the Force: While Hardcastle knows just about everyone in the Los Angeles police force (and is on good terms with most of them), he has several recurring contacts, most notably Frank Harper in season three.
- He Had a Name: In one episode, Hardcastle has to deal with a police captain who, twenty years ago, shot an unarmed teenager and then covered it up; when the case came before Hardcastle's court, the man was ruled innocent for lack of evidence. Twenty years later, Hardcastle hasn't forgotten:Filapiano: "Nobody even remembers that dumb kid's name."Hardcastle: "Johnson. His name was Cyler Johnson."
- Mistaken for Dying: In season three's "Do Not Go Gentle", Hardcastle is mistakenly diagnosed as having a terminal disease.
- Murder by Cremation: An episode had McCormick and the Girl of the Week about to be killed in this manner when Hardcastle and the police show up just in time to save them.
- Name and Name
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: Tom Kennedy played this type of game-show host on one episode.
- "Rashomon"-Style: In "When I Look Back On All The Things", Mark and the Judge both recount Mark's sentencing; each version is extremely slanted in favor of the person giving it.
- Replaced the Theme Tune: Season one's striking "Drive" was replaced for part of season two with the light-hearted "Back to Back", possibly to reflect the development of the characters' relationship, but the show reverted to "Drive" halfway through.
- Say My Name: At the end of "Homecoming, part I", Mark screams "HARDCASTLE!" after the judge's car goes into the water.
- Under the Truck: McCormick maneuvers his Cool Car, the Coyote X, under the undercarriage of a moving semi-trailer truck. Fortunately, the car has an unusually low profile to enable that and a driver reckless and skilled enough to attempt it.
- Well-Intentioned Replacement: Hardcastle's basketball that was autographed by Wilt Chamberlain is stolen in a break-in (that was McCormick's fault). When they are not able to recover the ball, McCormick attempts to replace it by getting another ball and forging Chamberlain's autograph. Unfortunately, not being a basketball fan, he signs it Walt Chamberlain.
- Wild Teen Party: Although the participants are not teenagers.