Blue Thunder – The Complete Series
C+ Sound: C Extras: D Episodes: C+
Badham’s Blue Thunder (1983) was a
decent action thriller that did not do as well as it should have and is a
better film than it ever got credit for.
When it was not a blockbuster, those in the know knew a hit was still to
be had somewhere, so TV was the next place to go with the concept. While Airwolf
with Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine was the somewhat bigger hit, Columbia decided to try out a Blue Thunder TV series the next
year. With James Farentino taking Roy
Scheider’s place and the cast offering football greats Dick Butkus & Bubba
Smith, the hope was to get the male audience.
However, the show only lasted 11 episodes, all collected here on this Complete Series DVD collection.
additional curiosity for the show is that it was produced by Fugitive producer Roy Huggins, who was
also known for Alias Smith & Jones,
Maverick, Toma, Baretta and
latter-day hit Hunter. This was not as successful, but no worse than
Airwolf or other later
imitators. The other curio is an early
Dana Carvey before hitting it big as a Saturday
Night Live cast member. Carvey had
previously surfaced briefly as an ambulance attendant in Halloween II and then on the failed Mickey Rooney sitcom One Of The Boys which later produced
one of his funniest impersonations of a celebrity in doing Rooney as someone
who could not stop talking about his peak fame decades before.
Like Airwolf, the budget here was not going
to be the equivalent of Badham’s feature film, but this was a serious,
ambitious and good-looking attempt to do a series version that holds up better
than you might expect. Besides some old
technology, only Cold War plots involving KGB troubles add age to the show. The series also tries to erase
(unsuccessfully) the idea of the technology being used for the wrong purposes,
a major point of the film that rings truer than ever. Still, it is worth a look for those
interested and was worth the trouble of pulling out of the Sony archives.
X 1 image was shot on film, remastered in digital High Definition and looks
shockingly good throughout. There are
shots that are not as good, while the Pilot
in particular reuses footage from the original feature film. It is blurrier because at the time in 1984,
reprinting square 1.33 X 1 frames out of anamorphic 2.35 X 1 Panavision frames
was not done as well and there were limits in being able to do it right. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is clean, but at a
volume that is lower than it should be.
There are no extras.
- Nicholas Sheffo