Sunday, April 19, 2009

Riptide: The Pilot (1984)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: January 3rd, 1984

If Magnum P.I. and The Whiz Kids had a baby, Riptide would be their love child. Not just content to have machismo running around in tighty whities, Riptide also features a lovable computer geek nicknamed Boz who has a robot called the Ro-Boz, who is totally adorable! Actually, all of the actors are extremely endearing and a lot of fun to watch. So, although you are guaranteed to get at least two car chases and just as many fist fights per episode (as well as some nice peck checks), this show is all about friendship. Well, ain't that sweet?

You totally thought I was joking about the tighty whites, didn't you?
Riptide aired from 1984 - 1986. It started as a mid-season replacement show, featuring a pilot movie and 12 episodes, and was followed by two full seasons. Coming a few years after Magnum and one year before Miami Vice, the pilot set up the show as a carefree, action packed mystery involving two burning hunks named Nick and Cody (Joe Penny and Perry King, respectively). The episode starts off with a boat explosion that kills everyone except one beautiful girl who just happened to be scuba diving when the "accident" occurred. She is picked up by grizzled sea captain Mama Joe (Anne Francis who is billed in the main titles of several episodes of the first season, but rarely appears) and given to the Riptide boys, a newbie detective duo who reside on their boat in King's Harbor (a fictional coastal Southern California beach community). Good army buds from the Nam, they also sport a healthy sense of competition when it comes to the attention of the ladies. And so begins solving the mystery behind the sunken boat and the fight for the affection of the survivor, Kimba Hall (Karen Kopins from Fast Forward and Once Bitten, making her one of the coolest chicks of the 80s!).
Thom Bray = so cute!

These down and out detectives bring in their old army bud, Murray "Boz" Bozinsky (Thom Bray), a famous computer whiz who is fed up with his office job (I mean really fed up!) and he brings along the Ro-Boz, who can pretty much do anything except bring you a drink without pouring it on you (this later becomes a bit of an ongoing joke through the show).

The story for the pilot is competent and fun, a little complicated but fairly easy to follow. The show actually featured some fun mysteries in the later episodes. I liked that the crime solving parts were a little Murder, She Wrote. And thusly, it was the birth of a pretty amazing series.

Nick helps the Ro-boz get his investigating-on!

All three seasons of Riptide were recently released on DVD and I just picked up Season One (with Season Two currently on the way!). I had the vaguest memories of the show, but mostly remembered the boat and the easy going flow of action. It's an obvious riff on Magnum P.I. but original enough that I am wary to make any comparisons (except for Cody's mustache, which made him that blonde alternative to Tom Selleck. Nice to know there are choices in these matters!). They doubled the hunk factor but took some great lessons from Magnum's camaraderie with his Nam buds. So yeah, I just made a comparison, what of it?

Slightly dumbfounded machismo at its finest!

Riptide was created by Stephen J. Cannell, who along with Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson, made some of the best escapist action television of the 80s. Say what you will about one-off episodes, which often feature characters who disappear in the ether never to be seen again. The overall enjoyment of this kind of "mindless" action fare frankly blows a lot of newer stuff out of the water. I remember when people watched television to escape and not to feel all bad about something. Riptide is one of the best of those shows to air in a decade full of great escapist television, and that my friend is no small feat.


LaraAnn said...

The Tuesday night line up of The A-Team, Riptide and Remington Steele was my second favourite. Thursday's Magnum P.I. and Simon & Simon was my first. I actually had Riptide and Tom Selleck posters in my room. My cousin Mary had a crush on Joe Penny and I liked Perry King. Just found your blog through Pam and am enjoying it.

Amanda By Night said...

Hi LaraAnn, thanks for commenting! I'm a bit of a Magnum fanatic myself. I still watch reruns on Retro Television and of course, have the DVDs. I never get tired of it.

I loved Riptide when it first came on and was so pleased to see it released on DVD. It was such a wonderful show, and kind of went by the wayside after it went off the air. I don't really remember it rerunning anywhere...

Cindylover1969 said...

Mama Joe and her all-babe crew (all FEMALE babe crew, that is... I always wondered about that!)

Great post!