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DVD Review: Baywatch – Seasons One and Two

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Baywatch is nothing without two very important ingredients — the music and the women. Of course the hit syndicated series was originally supposed to be an extension of David Hassellhoff's (aka The Hoff) "career", but he barely has any presence and acts like he's amazed he's been handed a script. So long as the music and the women exist on the DVD releases, fans should have no problems.

In saying that, what the hell happened to the music and the theme song from the syndicated years?

Apparently the love for this show is so strong that the companies that made these two packages figure the fans won't care one bit. Considering the franchise has such a big following, I would think a fan especially would care about the exclusion of the music — especially the theme song. But that's probably not the biggest crime.

The California based lifeguard drama originally aired in 1989 for a season on NBC. There were many changes made from that season onward (including the jump to syndication after NBC canned it), but the season is still a valuable part of the show's history. Sadly, these are included as bonus episodes and will not be sold as a complete set. I've discovered meanwhile that in the UK, the show will get the music as well a set of the entire NBC season.

still from Baywatch | hosted by TinyPic.comSo what is Baywatch?

I couldn't really tell you. It's kinda like watching a behind-the-scenes show of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition — except it's on every week. You throw in a few beefy guys, set it up on a California beach and make everyone lifeguards — that's Baywatch. They save lives, fall in and out of love and get killed sometimes. Apparently the show also had the CSI extension where they not only saved lives on the beach, but off the beach as well.

Unlike CSI, they never could completely spin-off the brand since it was all about babes and the beach. The Hoff did one spin-off known as Baywatch Nights where he moonlighted as a detective. The series hovered around, but seemed not to fit into, the overall universe and was canned after two seasons.

Baywatch had a few of the old players from the NBC season, and a few new ones in the mix for the syndicated first season. Perhaps the only two characters of the bunch worth paying attention to are Eddie Kramer (Billy Warlock) and Shauni McClain (Erika Eleniak), who play co-workers in love. Sadly, they both left the series after a season — not that I think they would last.still from Baywatch | hosted by TinyPic.com

Personally I think they should have written Eddie having a love triangle with Pamela Anderson, who joined the cast as C.J. Parker in the second season. It's kind of a tough call here — Shauni McClain or C.J. Parker? Innocent and sweet Shauni, or Pam's body?

Sorry Erika, you'd lose that battle — and I don't even like Anderson.

The Hoff displays a surfer-dude style playing Mitch, who is something of the leader of the lifeguards on Baywatch Beach. He's a divorced dad trying to save hot babes while parenting Hobie (Jeremy Jackson), who is the least annoying child character I've seen yet. He has a good episode in the first syndicated season set in which he befriends a young homeless girl (played by Nikki Cox of Unhappily Ever After) who is trying to find her mother. Funny that the adults act childish and the kid came off as the most mature.

Apparently there is an actual lifeguard in the cast in the form of Michael Neumann, who is a friend of Greg Bonann, who was one of the creators of the series. He must have had some fights with The Hoff (who also was a producer and invested his own money into the show) over the realism of the series. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

"So you're saying you wanna get rid of the ladies?" said The Hoff.

"Yes, I think it's totally against reality. Bodyguards don't just save supermodels," said Neumann.

The Hoff stares at a promo picture from his days on Knight Rider. "You know, I started to think I was gay when I had only one babe a week and was left with the same damn talking car to keep me company. Now I have several babes in front of me, Mike — why would you as a man be so blind to this obvious good fortune?"

Neumann slams the door and cell phones his agent. "See if Bochco is doing a series — maybe he needs a lifeguard on NYPD Blue."

Hey, it wouldn't be far-fetched considering he almost got a futuristic NYPD series started.

The first and second syndicated seasons on DVD come with no "play all" feature. There's also a stupid little segue scene in which a big wave comes crashing down when you switch between some of the selections. As someone who never notices cover art, the quality of the promo shots seem very bootleg — not to mention they're inaccurate. First of all because this is the first two seasons, each should come with the promotional cast photo for that season. Some of the cast included in the photos on the box sets don't represent the actual cast of that particular season (although you get Erika on the upper-left corner for S1 and S2 with Pamela).

You do get a photo gallery, a trivia track, and no commentaries. I suspect one reason it took so long to get this set out was trying to lure someone from the cast or behind the scenes to do one of these for some of the episodes. Don't expect The Hoff to do it since he was prematurely fired from the series during its run.

I'm sure most people have heard the theme enough that if they don't hear it again on these DVD sets, they could simply hum it to themselves over the rather generic track used in its place. After all, it's all about the babes and the beach — who needs a theme when you have eye candy? I would think that if a studio was handed the transfer of this series, they would have treated it a little better than they did — especially with regard to the music.

Speaking of babes, if any of the fans out there have the look of a Baywatch hunk or babe, they should sign up at Baywatch On DVD to enter a contest to see if you could be the best of the best. Just upload your photo to the gallery where website visitors will rank who can draw the most heat. The winner will get a flat screen TV as well as other prizes.

YouTube carries the original syndicated theme credits for season one if you are interested, as well as the NBC version from '89 (sung by Peter Cetera).

About Matthew Milam