Baywatch (1989-2001)

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A declawed Overcat

While scrolling through online articles this week, I came across a ‘coffee spiller’ of a headline that was titled “Justin Timberlake rumored for ‘Baywatch’ movie”. To no surprise there was a tidal wave of virtual applause’s in the comment section from many women.

Apparently, Paramount pictures has been on a mission to get Timberlake into some lifeguard fatigue and run along the beach in slow-motion for their up coming Baywatch film. The adaptation has apparently been in the works for a while now.

Mr. Timberlake is rumored to play a disgraced ex-Olympic swimmer who ends up congregating with the Baywatch gang. David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson are also set to make an appearance in the film. Time will only tell, and for now we must play the waiting game.

This rumor however has inspired this weeks TV Series Saturday Review. So let us take a trip to Memoryville, population Generation’s X and Y.

*Optional (Highly recommended): Cue up/play “I’m Always here” by Jimi Jamison before reading.

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Baywatch Overview:

Creators: Michael Berk, Gregory J. Bonann, Douglas Schwartz                                                             Stars: David Hasselhoff, Jeremy Jackson, Pamela Anderson &Michael Newman                                      Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure

A guilty pleasure for all ages and genders, Baywatch was probably the closest thing you will get to soft-core pornography devoid of actually purchasing some. It aired from 1989-2001 and focused on a team of lifeguards at a beach resort. Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) was in charge of the younger lifeguards who came and went with each season.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that this show was actually running on cable television and was just accepted. The amount of slow-motion camera work alone is enough to push it over the watershed of absurdity. Nonetheless, however you feel about the show, Baywatch should be viewed as plain and simple unadulterated entertainment. The show, believe it or not, had more to it than just the glossy fantasy it portrayed about lifeguards and California beach life.

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During its reign, Baywatch was watched by millions and was one of the most commercially successful undertakings in modern television. While the show offers much for the younger adult, there is also enough to keep the older audiences content. By the third season, the show was breaking records on a daily basis; a turning point that meant that it was much more than simply an orgy for the eyes and shameless eroticism.

While the plots and writing may have not been the most riveting or well-acted, the action within them was most certainly entertaining. The writing had an optimistic approach to an array of difficult issues such as teen pregnancy and life changing moves, which are tossed into the show with about as much subtlety as the cast’s wardrobe. While many controversial issues are explored throughout, the series manages to approach each with a degree of nonchalance that is virtually extinct in modern day television.

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The series works on the principle that, as long as the episodes fundamentals are built around the coexisting comradeship and career of its cast, they allow for a reasonable level of diversification from the plot. Essentially, what the creators of Baywatch managed to develop was an ultimate winning combination: a mix of the serial levels of absurdity the cast tend to find themselves apart of, and the practicality of the environment in which surrounded them. The one simple word to describe this formula: genius. It is also important, however, to remember the timing of this show and the cultural setting of the series.

Developed around the needs and expectations of the 1990’s, Baywatch perfectly depicts the vanity of America during that timeline. Everything from the hairstyles to the clothing choices is typically 90’s, and the show was proud of it. The series was typically American and stood as a testament to a proud nation. Just as The Hills is a recognizable face of 21st century America, Baywatch epitomized its viewers, playing up to whatever it could. It was in essence the poster-child for American 90’s culture.

TCDBAYW EC003To be honest, there are only so many episodes one can endure before the lack of plots and regular clichés get to the viewer. Seasons 1-3 had decent plot structures, but after that they made as much practical sense as C.J Parker’s love life in the show. While the concept was good during the 90’s, one can’t help but feel that maybe that is where it should stay. If this new movie with Timberlake is more than a rumor, it more than makes me curious as to how the producers will approach the film given the media landscape of today. Television and films (most) have evolved in unbelievable ways, and plots are now so intelligent they make Stephen Hawking look plain. However, movie-goers tend to surprise us at the box offices in terms of viewing appetite. But I digress.

Overall, the series and show from a macro sense is enjoyable on a sensory level. While the cast are now mostly porn stars, former solvent abusers or simply aging C-list celebrities, Baywatch gives you a chance to see them all at their very best. The show, like life, shouldn’t be taken so seriously and should serve as a happy reminder of the 20th century and enjoyed for what it is; good clean family fun.

It’s almost summertime. What better way to get ready and into the spirit then by grabbing some friends, some wobbly-pops, a Baywatch collection (preferably a VHS version for that retro vibe), and sharing some laughs over the phenomenon that is and was Baywatch.

I’ll be ready….forever and always.

David Hasselhoff

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