Most people probably remember the slow motion running on the beach of Pamela Anderson and other supermodels in the syndicated television series which became a pop culture phenomenon known as Baywatch. The original series ran for ten years, and then was overhauled into Baywatch: Hawaii with a new cast which ran another two years. The series ran eleven seasons spanning twelve years total. The series about the lifeguards that patrol the beaches of Los Angeles County became the most watched television series in the world with a weekly audience of over 1.1 billion viewers. Despite that, few people probably remember the spin off show, Baywatch Nights.
This new series followed original cast lead Mitch (David Hasselhoff) joining former police officer Garner Ellerbee (Gregory Alan Williams) who become private detectives. They are joined by Ryan McBride (Angie Harmon) and Griff Walker (Eddie Cibrian) rounding out their team. The show was meant to be a crime drama, but after its disappointing ratings of the first season, the producers decided to switch to a science fiction format inspired by the X-Files where we see Mitch and new cast member Dorian Gregory as Diamont Teague, a paranormal expert replacing the Garner Ellerbee character who was written out of the series, battling monsters and other supernatural elements. Despite the success of the X-Files and the original Baywatch, this ill-conceived knock off hybrid was cancelled after the second season.
If the first episode of the second season is any indication of what the whole of the series was like, then I can see why it didn’t last. Mitch rescues a woman who is floating in the water, when she awakes, she begins screaming the name of a legendary New Guinea sea monster. They trace the woman back to a sunken ship, and worried that there may be other survivors trapped in air pockets within the ship, Griff and Mitch dive down, but not before a warning from Diamont about the monster the woman was referring to. While on the ship, Griff is attacked by the creature and the majority of the episode is Mitch and Griff trying to find a way to escape. The two heroes finally figure out a way to stop the creature and finally can complete their mission having saved a couple of survivors from the submerged ship.
The episode felt chaotic with an inconsistent rhythm and terrible tempo. The plot barely exists and there was no real story to connect the audience to the characters. In future episodes, the cast encounter mermaids, sea monsters, vampires, mummies and resurrected Vikings. The production value on the show was low and felt cheesy and campy. As for the actors, let’s face it, no one on this show is going to win an Academy Award anytime soon. David Hasselhoff has always been somewhat of an over the top actor and he does not disappoint in this series. Eddie Cibrian would go on to have a steady television and film career (Invasion, Turistas) as would Angie Harmon who starred in Rizzoli & Isles. Overall, the series could never figure out what it wanted to be and how to combine the science fiction element with good storytelling.
Forgotten Television: Baywatch Nights
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