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Sharks! Ghosts! Guns! Gambling!

Back at Malibu Beach, things are changing. In the space between disc #4 and disc #5, Baywatch has suddenly turned into The Cort & Eddie Show. Words cannot express how overjoyed I am about this development. And yes, that is a completely blatant lie.

Oh what fun the first episode of this batch is. Given some sort of assignment by Mitch (the traitorous sod), off go Cort and Eddie for some fun together at a holiday camp, to help out with something or other. They did say what. I probably wasn't listening. But then - oh no! - a saboteur begins wrecking rides, and trying to kill people for... reasons. I don't know what they are. They probably said, but again it's quite possible that I wasn't paying that much attention. They stop him, there's some yelling. It should be a lot more fun than it is, and I'm not quite sure why it isn't. Possibly it has something to do with Cort swaggering about the place with his stupid grin and annoying attitude, but it could just as easily be the fault of the support cast. Even the subplot, in which Shauni accidentally gets herself included in a swimsuit calendar, isn't much fun. Captain Thorpe, the main protagonist in that storyline, is rarely given the chance to be anything other than a two-dimensional prop; but a brief bit of fun from Gina, Craig's all too rarely seen wife, helps to spice things up a bit. I like Gina. Whoever thought it was a good idea to continually sideline her, I have no idea, but whoever it was, they have no business writing a TV show. She only gets to appear in half of the episodes, and when she does turn up, she usually doesn't get more than a couple of lines; but she's like First Aid for bad scripts. Gina's cool. Shame that it rather seems the producers don't agree.

And then joy of joys, nothing much improves in episode two, when Cort and Eddie go off for some more 'fun'. This time they visit a floating casino, which is sure to end well. A casino that for some reason is floating two miles off shore, happily illegal, when if it floated another mile out, it could do what it wanted, and nobody would be able to do anything. But never mind. Needless to say, the gambling doesn't go according to plan, and shenanigans ensue. Or semi-shenanigans do, anyway. First Eddie gets addicted to gambling (really quickly), then he loses everything and gets himself thrown overboard. Cleverly he manages to wash ashore on the exact bit of beach that Craig is jogging on, which isn't bad going given how big America's coastline is. Then, with Eddie expressing disbelief that Craig is willing to help he and Cort battle a boatful of crooks (clearly he's wiped Mexico from his mind completely), they all set out to get some revenge. Whilst Mitch romances Hobie's English teacher, because that's much more fun than adventures.

The adventure isn't as much fun as it sounds, though. Admittedly we do get Gina back for a bit, which makes up for the rest of the episode being endlessly boring scenes of Cort being a jerk, and Eddie being annoying - not that she gets to do much, of course. We do get some mild fisticuffs, and also there's some fun towards the end when Cort sets off a smoke bomb, which causes almost the entire guest cast to leap overboard in terror. Why do people on TV always do that? The slightest sign of possible-maybe-peril aboard a ship, and they leap straight into the sea. Never mind that they're two miles from land, and immediately begin splashing about like they've never swum a stroke in their lives; the sea is much safer than... something they haven't even bothered looking at. They didn't even look to see if there were lifeboats. Anyway, Craig has secretly arranged for the police (and Mitch, just in case he felt like an outing) to be hiding outside. In a boat. On the open ocean. Just as well the heavily security conscious crooks didn't think to look up at any point in the proceedings, then. It's not like you can hide around a corner out at sea. And why did Craig have to tip the police off secretly anyway?! Just how big a jerk is Cort?! But I digress. Garner comes along to help save the day, which is quite nice of him given how much he hates boats and wet things. And thus ends an episode that's only slightly better than the proceeding one.

Since this is never a show to be brilliant when it can be spectacularly mediocre, the next episode manages to be even worse. Tormented by what seems to be a ghost running around on the beach, Eddie goes off the rails, and eventually gets benched. Gina saves the day by appearing again, just long enough to find a painting of the 'ghost', which helps everybody to work out that it must be a woman who died in a fire years earlier. Probably. Except she's not, she's the woman's daughter, sent mad years ago by the fire, and apparently inclined to spend random nights running about on the beach, impersonating her dead mother. Or she might be possessed by her dead mother. Or it might actually be her mother. It all depends on whether or not the writers ever want to pick one side of the fence and stick with it. Since they clearly couldn't choose whether or not they believe in ghosts, they could at least have tried to make the teasing entertaining. And they could have saved us Eddie's incredibly lame story about his sister while they were at it.

In case you hadn't guessed, disc #5 is so far not shaping up to be my favourite. Still, at least the maybe-a-ghost-and-maybe-not episode minimises the Cort exposure. We don't get any such luck with the disc's final episode; but then, to be fair to Cort, practically the entire cast is acting like jerks there, so it's not like he's alone. For this episode is the shark episode; and really there's very little that's good about that one.

What to say about the shark episode. Well, it's got sharks in it. Sharks are good. Not always, admittedly. Even I can see that there are certain circumstances in which sharks would not be good; but those circumstances rarely occur when you're watching television. We get some very nice stock footage of sharks in this episode, and the fact that the different bits of footage are all of wildly differing quality (and wildly differing sharks) doesn't really get in the way. No, what gets in the way is the plot. A local businessman hits upon an idea to raise his profile. He'll pay $10000 to whoever catches the biggest shark. This brings hundreds upon hundreds of fishermen to the beach, eager to catch as many sharks as they possibly can, big or small, in an attempt to win the prize. And lucky us, we're treated to lots of footage of dead sharks, swinging from hooks on the pier. What fun. Practically everybody seems to join in with the excitement. I'll forgive Hobie, since he's just a little kid, but almost the whole of the rest of the cast are bouncing up and down in glee, ready to join in with The Great Shark Massacre. Cort's no surprise. What's a little wholesale slaughter to him, if it'll win him ten grand? Bit surprised at Eddie, though. Shauni actually sides with the sharks, but her objections are treated as a joke by the script. The sole proper argument that we hear against this little venture is that all these fishermen baiting the waters might be putting the swimmers at risk. Oh dear. Poor swimmers. Anyway, the businessman who started all this mindlessness in the first place dumps a special transmitter in the sea, guaranteed to attract sharks from all over, which does at least provide a little entertainment. Slightly baffling entertainment, as in keeping with age-old tradition when sharks are used on TV shows, they change species from shot to shot. Oh look! It's a Great White! And now it's a blue, and now it's a mako, and now it's a fifty-year-old bit of footage of something else completely! But nobody will notice. Honest.

Yes, I am nit-picking. But they're cheerfully talking about the pointless, large-scale slaughter of sharks, many species of which are endangered, so I'm allowed. So there.

Hang on, I mentioned entertainment, didn't I. Sharks! There's one lovely scene early on, when a shark menaces a group of surfers. Craig immediately dashes into the sea, and sends all the surfers back to the beach; just in case they hadn't worked out for themselves that that might be a good plan (oddly enough they largely had). He then hauls one last, terrified surfer back to shore in a splendidly shark baity fashion. He's not the only one to try that stunt either, as later both Jill and Mitch go leaping into the sea in front of hungry sharks as well. They do it with serious faces, however, as opposed to bouncing into the surf like an over-excited puppy, as they both go to the rescue of a group of children. And children in danger is extra-serious, with extra-serious music. By this point, Jill has practically got "Shark Food" written across the back of her swimsuit, which makes it all the more hilarious that it's children she's saving. After all, if you're going to have one of your main cast killed off, TV Drama Rule #3 states that it has to happen whilst saving the life of a child. Preferably a small, photogenic one, who whimpers prettily.

Poor Jill. I like Jill. She's tough and practical and grown up, and she looks like she knows how to handle herself, which is probably why she's had nothing to do all season. If she'd been young and pathetic, and painted into a much too small swimsuit, she'd probably have had as many storylines as Shauni. She'd probably still be alive, too. As it is, she begins this episode by talking about her childhood, which sounds off every alarm going. When a character that we know nothing about suddenly gets given a background, you can usually assume that they're for the chop. It's like when, in Torchwood season three, the writers suddenly gave Ianto a sister, and something to do besides make the coffee. His death shortly afterwards should really have come as no surprise to anybody. Oh look, I'm digressing again. Jill tells us about her childhood, anyway. Then she jumps into the sea and gets eaten by a shark. As you do. Except technically she doesn't, as this is one of the episode's various weak points. The shark attack, I must say, is done beautifully. Yes, okay, so the angle and speed of the shark's strike looks wrong, as the most it would have done is surely head-butt the rescue boat, but ignoring that, the rest is done beautifully. Quick cuts, and images of Jill being hit at force, and dragged away at speed, make it all very effective. Slightly spoilt then by Mitch swimming over to her severed life-saver, and yelling "Jill!" repeatedly to an empty ocean. And why is it suddenly empty? Did the shark eat the rescue boat too? Other than that, it really is done well. It's dramatic and quick and really quite shocking, and would have made a lovely (and brave) exit for the character. Which is where it all turns weird. I get the distinct impression that the writers were told to tone it down, because suddenly we're in a hospital, and Jill's there in a bed. Granted, Great Whites do tend to spit people back out again, because they don't taste very nice, but she was nowhere in sight. How did they get her back? She's just there, in hospital, with no noticeable damage (and definitely nothing missing), smiling bravely at everybody, and then dying off-screen of a blood clot. It's stupid and anti-climactic, and even worse, it leads to a Jill montage. Her co-stars all stand around, staring into the middle distance, and remembering scenes they had with her. Necessarily short ones, as she didn't ever get to do a lot with most of them. Then we see footage of her running in not-quite-slo-mo along the beach at sunset, with the Obligatory Eighties Soft Rock Baywatchy Ballad playing in the background. This probably wasn't supposed to be quite as funny as it is.

And Mitch gets all angry, and they find the transmitter, and nobody else gets eaten. Nobody apologises to the sharks, either. All in all, not Baywatch's finest hour. Not exactly an advert for responsible ocean management, either. Two or three fatal shark attacks against humans tend to be reported annually. Around seventy million sharks get killed every year by humans. You'll have to excuse me if I'm not exactly on the side of the Baywatch writing team with this one.

It's okay. I'm shutting up now. :)

Pictures!


As a pay off for the annoying amount of Cort and Eddie that we're exposed to now, we've just been updated to my favourite version of the opening credits. For some reason I've always liked this bit. This is in no way related to the fact that Craig tosses his float up into the air and catches it one-handed, and then Cort tries the same trick, and drops his.

Honest.


Jill gets a bit of plot, in exchange for being eaten in a few episodes time.


Gina pays a fleeting visit, in order to be briefly awesome.


Gambling. TV shorthand for "Things are going to go very wrong for one of these characters shortly".


Meanwhile, Mitch has an "I'm in love with Hobie's English teacher" montage. Lucky us.


Then the director gets worryingly arty. Either that or they're suddenly in a horror movie. Could be either.


And - surprise surprise - things are soon going bad for Eddie.


Just throw him back, Craig. It'd be simpler for everybody.


The Three Musketeers plan their next venture. Because battling crooks in Mexico didn't hit any snags at all.


Oh look, it's gone all James Bond.


Gina pays another quick visit, in order to help Craig infiltrate the casino. She is wearing something, honest.


Mitch and Garner speed to the rescue.


Which is handy, as Cort has just been caught with his hand in the till.


But never fear! Craig Bond is already on hand.


The bad guy only has the one gun, after all, and he's only twice Craig's size. Leaping on top of him is sure to be fun.


Ghost on the beach!


A painting from 1923, that Eddie insists is the same girl. Doesn't look much like it to me, which immediately conjures up merry memories of Sunset Beach, and paintings that didn't look anything like they were supposed to. :)


Jill gets reflective about her childhood. Oh dear.


Shark!


Completely different shark!


Another completely different shark!


Here! Jump off your surfboard and on to this one with me! We'll be really low in the water, and moving really slowly, but I see no possible disadvantages to this.


Neither does the completely different shark (again) that's hanging around watching.


Another shark!


Oh noes! Jill!


Lots of sharks!


Mitch and Cort go looking for the shark transmitter, with unexpectedly entertaining results. They really do love zooming in on the stand-ins in this show, don't they. That one in blue is supposed to be Mitch. It clearly isn't. For starters whoever it is has shrunk about two feet in height, and that's without even touching on the fact that that clearly isn't Mitch's head.


Two sharks!


Big shark!


Really rather big shark!


Okay, now you're just mugging at the camera.


Bye bye shark.


And bye bye Jill. Rather unfortunately, they choose the world's least appropriate song for her farewell montage. The lyrics go "It's okay now, my friend." Except it isn't okay, is it. She's just been eaten. That's about as far from okay as you can get.

Next time on Baywatch, pirates invade Malibu Beach, and Cort is made to walk the plank.

This may not be entirely the truth.

Comments

( 1 fierce growl — Growl fiercely )
ladygretchen
Mar. 27th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
Boy, I was so sure I gave a really fierce growl on this post…so, so sure! Maybe I dreamed I did. But anyway, totally awesome and funny, even though someone getting eaten by a shark is not funny in any way. This show always got rid of the people who could actually act!
( 1 fierce growl — Growl fiercely )

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