Riptide – The Complete First Season
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: C+
Badham’s Blue Thunder (1983) so big
that it could inspire a bunch of TV imitators?
Airwolf is the best known and
a TV version of Blue Thunder
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) was also launched with only limited
success. Well, the film did business,
but was not the huge success Columbia Pictures had rightly hoped for, but it
did have still-box-office-hot Roy Scheider and anyone or anything even remotely
connected to the then-huge success of Steven Spielberg was being embraced. Also being embraced was the issue of Vietnam
and too many projects in the 1980s were concerned with negating what really
happened. Following Magnum, P.I. and the Badham film, Riptide was a series that tried to ride these waves.
series was about three Vietnam vets played by would-be leading man Perry King,
later lead Joe Penny and Thom Bray as a techno-geek who is the third banana
here, but ironically is the least dated character (stereotypes notwithstanding)
of the three. Like Blue Thunder and Magnum,
they too have a helicopter to fly around in, to which some of my friends would
mockingly say “oooooooooooooooooooooo”.
For the first season, they also were lucky enough to have Anne Francis
as a sort of “female Higgins” and the show constantly treats Vietnam as just
another conflict that can be brushed off.
J. Cannell was a producer, but it seems he was not quite as active as he would
be on later shows as he moved on to producing his own hit shows. This new Complete
First Season set covers all 13 hour-long shows from the early 1984 debut
season when it was a mid-season replacement.
The scripts are surprisingly juvenile, then when you add the silly
humor, mandatory Star Wars/Gil
Gerard-era Buck Rogers robot (you
have to see it to believe it) and how the show shamelessly looks like every
such film and TV show in the field at the time (think of this as Miami Vice-lite, very lite), you
realize how a show that hardly caused a ripple was on for three seasons. It was safe, revisionist propaganda for young
males and going along with the “rules” of reactionary 1980s action
programming. In content, it is like a
time capsule, made more obvious when you see the yacht they lived on.
X 1 image looks very good for its age, with good color, some good detail and
overall solid image from film prints that are in very good shape. Ron Vargas’ cinematography might not have
been the most memorable for an action show, but looking back, his work here is
more competent than he was getting credit for.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good and clear, which is not always
the case for TV shows even this relatively recent. There are no extras, but
playback is impressive, so if you are a fan or just curious, this set will not
disappoint upon playback.
- Nicholas Sheffo