Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day Forty-four - Airwolf: Season 1, Episode 3, or "Yay Jingoism!"

Another of Donald Bellisario's quests to present hot action to the American people and garner ratings gold (Monday's blog subject, Magnum PI, was also a Bellisario production), Airwolf represents pretty much everything that was wrong with the 80's.

Blatent cold-war paranoia, Asia as the Third World, cheesy American ubermensch fighting incompetent, yet vaguely threatening Russian strawmen, and awesome Western technology on display to deter any who would cross the Red, White, and Blue.

Seriously, if Airwolf wasn't so patently ridiculous, you'd almost think it was a recruitment video for the Armed Forces.

To start off with, the whole series revolves around a CIA or NSA or whathaveyou super-helicopter that is not only bullet proof and built with more weapons and countermeasures than DARPA's wet dreams, but it can also reach MACH 1 and go from an undisclosed airbase in the continental United States (a cave in Monument Valley, Utah for anyone with ANY sense of national landmarks) all the way to the far western tip of Alaska on one tank of gas.

Then there's the cast.

Jan Michael Vincent is a terrible stoic... I mean, a cello playing, ace pilot, warrior-poet? What is this, a Clive Cussler novel? I can't watch a single moment of his long, pointed stares without wanting to break up into fits of laughter... and, though I have a soft spot in my heart for Ernest Borgnine, he's thoroughly underutilized as the comic relief. Sure, he has a great sense of humor and timing, but it's like putting Groucho Marx in a community theater production. In an attempt to add some class, he only serves as a distraction.

The premise of the series aside, this particular episode is just so much chest thumping on the part of writers to reaffirm that they are, indeed, loyal and patriotic Americans. The closest it gets to being any sort of critical is having a drunk officer rail against the unsympathetic civilians who hated him when he returned from Vietnam and how war orphans and similar destitute children of American servicemen were left to fend for themselves only to become pawns of Soviet spies trying to extract the latest US Aircraft via blackmail.


I despise this show... not only for its heavy handed politics and crude special effects, but also for its lazy production value overall. At least Magnum was filmed in Hawaii. Here we're supposed to believe that shots of the high desert with winter snow blanketing the ground with pinion trees sprouting up from the sea of white is a PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE substitute for footage of Alaska.

Seriously... they say they're some small distance from Nome, Alaska during the final length of the episode's journey to trick the KGB and save the child, yet nowhere is even any STOCK footage of our Northernmost state. Nor are there ocean shots or refuels as us ignorant American television viewers have no concept of distance or geography.

There's snow, so it MUST be Alaska.


Maybe I'm just bitter, but it's television like this that has dulled the wits of society. Hopefully the rest of 80's week won't be this bad.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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