Blogging Baywatch: Season 1

Is Baywatch good? Not really. Is it terrible kitschy 1990s television that is hilariously terrible in many respects? Yes. Is it terrible 1990s syndicated television in which many episodes have not aged particularly well in the twenty to thirty some-odd years since they aired? Also yes. But Baywatch is so dumb, and is available on Amazon Prime, that I’ve watched too much of it lately. So here’s some entirely irrelevant thoughts on season one.

All the episodes are ranked on the zero to five Baywatch scale, which is a scientific form of evaluating campiness and stupidity. Higher totals are both good – stupid camp levels it’s entertaining – and bad – if they just did this obvious thing the episode would be over kind of thing.

Everything below has spoilers for three decade old episodes. Also I can’t be bothered to give background on the characters

Pilot TV movie

This is a pretty dark note for Baywatch to start out on, with Craig rescuing a teenager who falls in love with him and ends up trying to kill his wife while at the same time Mitch’s old friend dies in a boat explosion saving Hobie and another kid when the boat goes under. Because this is also the pilot you get fun re-casting prior to the start of season one proper. In many respects this really is a good example of cheesy 1980s made-for-TV movies. Score: 4/5

Season 1

“In Deep” - Pretty basic episode, although the now vintage power skis are a true time capsule. Score: 1/5

“Heat Wave” - Most of this episode is unremarkable expect for the ending. Two kids are stuck in a flood drain and they need to be rescued before high tide comes in and they drain. Ultimately the two end up in the giant collection chamber and the water starts rising and one of them can’t swim. So naturally when the fire department gets the large concrete cover lifted, Jill doesn’t throw down her rescue can before the cable snaps and the cover slams shut. That allows Mitch to dramatically kick in another grate and save the day. Score: 2/5

“Second Wave” - So I got the idea to write up all of this when I was nearly 20 episodes into the first season. So some of these I don’t really remember. Score: 0/5

“Message in a Bottle” - Another relevantly unremarkable episode. The final chase scene is kind of fun. Score: 1/5

“The Sky Is Falling” - The last episode started the terrible Shauni and Eddie love story that will resolve itself in a few episodes with the natural outcome, but for now we’re stuck with the two pretending to hate each other. Also a very slapstick Boris and Natasha vibe in this episode with the couple trying to steal a suitcase full of money. The random cuts to the suitcase during the episode is a nice touch. Grade: 2/5

“The Drowning Pool” - Eh, the guy who thinks he’s a lifeguard is kind of fun. Grade: 1/5

“Rookie School” - Mitch tries to be a cop, pretty standard episode. Grade: 0/5

“Cruise Ship” - Bryan Cranston playing a drunk guy driving a dumpy party boat, quality by itself. Grade: 3/5

“The Cretin of the Shallows” - The killer looks like the guitarist in Limp Biskit. Cheesy 80s murder mystery. Grade: 2/5

“Shelter Me” - Somehow the storm that hits during this episode is so massively powerful to shut everything down, but not powerful enough to rip the simple tarp the roofers put on Mitch’s house. Also should we trust a guy who has roofers tear up his roof when there’s a massive tropical storm coming in? I’m not entirely sure we should. Also a longer appearance by Michael Newman, who you know is a real lifeguard cause he looks normal. Grade: 3/5

“The Reunion” - This gets a point solely because you can tell during the boat race that the director gave zero cares about making sure the shots had continuity. Just watch that part and watch how boats magically disappear and re-appear and they’re facing one direction only to face the next in the next shot. Grade: 1/5

“Armored Car” - Now this is the pinnacle of Baywatch. On the one hand a pier needs repairs so there’s a fundraiser that involves parking a heavy armored van on said pier and letting people take photos with it. When a construction worker inspecting the pier ends up hurt, no one seemingly bothers to find out why, resulting in the pier partly failing and the armored truck falling into the ocean, trapping Eddie and Shauni when Eddie saves a kid stuck inside it. That’s a lot but this is where it gets truly spectacular. The pier has literally failed, so naturally Mitch and Craig drive two Baywatch trucks onto the pier to assess the situation. Realizing they need to save Eddie and Shauni they found maybe two basic inflatable rafts from a nearby shop and magically float the armored truck. Once floated they decided the best way to get it to shore is to have a front loader pull it. When the front loader is on sand. So naturally that fails and everyone just pulls really hard and gets it to shore in two seconds. Also Jill and the Australian lifeguard play in a beach volleyball tournament that is a half episode long slo-mo shot. They win but Jill will have to spent her winnings on rotator cuff surgery. Grade: 5/5

“Home Cort” - The only thing here is Cort is introduced, probably the best character of the season. Cort is like Baywatch’s version of Jack T. Colton, Michael Douglas' character in Romancing the Stone. Grade: 1/5

“We Need a Vacation” - Bad Mexican Vacation. Things go boom. Grade: 3/5

“Muddy Waters” - This gets a higher rating for one reason and on reason alone. When the criminal is found he decides his best means of escape at the water park is to run up a functioning water slide. And Cort decides the best way to catch him is to also run up a functioning water slide. Also Shauni gets in trouble for doing a pinup calendar, which is just weird on so many levels. Grade: 4/5

“Snake Eyes” - This is the campiest James Bond film. Illegal casino boat. Spear gun as a weapon. Mitch is going to date his kid’s English teacher, which seems problematic but it does give us the campy ending of Mitch rescuing a guy in the middle of the date to end the episode. Grade: 4/5

“Eclipse” - Paranormal stuff happens? Maybe? Apparently there’s an entire series of a []Baywatch spin-off]( in which Mitch becomes a detective. The first season is mostly normal, but the second one gets real weird with paranormal and alien stuff. chef’s kiss Grade: 3/5

“Shark Derby” - They kill Jill and they do it in the most ridiculous way. Well, she dies pretty normally, but she’s attacked by a shark because a local restaurant is running a shark derby and the owner illegally baits and chums the water. But the shark attack is so terrible that I thought it was a dream sequence, until I realized it wasn’t. The zooming out shot of Mitch with two cans is quality. Grade: 4/5

“The Big Race” - The continuity issues here are amazing and they don’t even bother to hide them. In the long shots when they first take the boat out, Mitch and Craig have goggles and life jackets when operating the speed boat, like responsible lifeguards. Cut to the close-ups and they’re in totally different track jackets. Shauni wears an acid washed Canadian tuxedo to mourn Jill. Grade: 3/5

“Old Friends” - Mitch gets a broken leg and a snake bite. Something happens with Cort and an old friend, honestly I didn’t pay much attention to this one. Grade: 1/5

“The End?” - “What kind of name is Shauni?” Is probably the best line of the whole season. Oh yeah, an earthquake happens, Cort and Craig get stuck in an underwater cave that also has a hole at the top but isn’t flooded. Relatively boring season finale, earthquake aside. Grade: 2/5


Honestly, it’s pretty easy to see why NBC cancelled the whole affair after the season. It’s pretty bleh. Unfortunately, the syndication package replaces Peter Cetera’s theme with Jimi Jamison’s that was the syndication theme, which is a shame as Cetera’s is decidedly better.