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On Friday, Sept, 22, 1989, NBC brought an hour of surf, sand and drama to TV screens with Baywatch. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review of the David Hasselhoff show is below.
The surf off the coast of Southern California is a jungle. Just ask any lifeguard responsible for patrolling the shore.
Their stories are the heart of Baywatch, regardless of what a casual watching of the program may suggest. String bikinis, macho surfers, sun bunnies and hot doggers share equal time with the rescue work in this GTG Entertainment hour. But, let’s be honest, it’s the oiled bodies that will bring viewers back.
David Hasselhoff and Parker Stevenson are convincing as boyhood friends who continue to share adventure on the staff of the Los Angeles County lifeguard team. Hasselhoff is now a lieutenant, which keeps him behind a desk more often than not, while Stevenson is now a lawyer, moonlighting as a beach protector.
The supporting cast includes Shawn Weatherly, Billy Warlock, Erika Eleniak, Peter Phelps, Holly Gagnier and Monte Markham with Brandon Call especially effective as Hasselhoff’s son, Hobie.
In the hourlong premiere titled “In Deep,” the serious side of power ski abuse is tackled after an innocent sailboarder is killed by a reckless jet skier. Without becoming preachy, Baywatch gets its point across — all the while featuring poetic shots of the beauty of the ocean and those who occupy its shoreline.
While the script by executive producers Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz is typical TV fare, it manages to incorporate safety tips as well as action in balanced fashion. The fact that the series is the first to be sanctioned by the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Assn. proves it’s on target all the way.
Thanks to director of photography James Pergola, the Malibu/Venice beach has never looked so inviting. Baywatch is a pleasant, if unstimulating, way to begin a weekend. — Richard Hack
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