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Rookie Summer 8.1
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****Sharkey's Review****
Rookie Summer
 Premier Episode/8th Season (1997-1998)
Date Aired: 10/04/97   Encore: 10/10/97
Week of: 09/28/97 - 10/04/97 
My Score:  4 Rescue Cans
This Week's Quote:  "The only time you cannot afford to fail is the last time you try."
                                              -Charles Kettering
5 rescue Cans/Exceptional (Super Waves!)
4 Rescue Cans/Excellent
3 Rescue Cans/Good
2 Rescue Cans/Fair
1 Rescue Can/Poor (A Total Wipeout!)

After last year's dark season that almost everyone noted contained episodes not up to par with its 6 previous seasons, and with Baywatch Nights out of production after a two-season run, the attention is now back on Baywatch.

Returning for its 8th season, the premier episode Rookie Summer, indicates the very strong return of the show's former greatness. This time, the new characters are not just inserted. They start off with active, meaningful roles. You get to know something about them right from the start, compared to last season where there were too many rip currents. We still don't know anything about some of those characters. That will all change this season. The enjoyable Rookie Summer, contained memorable scenes and lines in tune to those that helped make the show overwhelmingly famous. I actually took the episode apart and examined its script and content. The script and plots were actually excellent, as I could not find anything wrong with them.

However, there were a few weak spots in the acting department. Carmen Electra's acting skill will need work. As stronger acting skills could have resulted in an even stronger piece. As with other cast members before her, she will improve by next season. As I recall, Pamela Anderson was a bit weak in the acting department when she first came on board, but now, she's a pretty good actress. She sounds more natural. David Chokachi has improved tremendously since his first season. David Chokachi actually shines in Rookie Summer. He has really grown as an actor.

Although I thought that there were too many lifeguards last year, I still think the same way...there are way too many lifeguards this season as well. But the characters are all going to be used with purpose. I would have given this episode more than excellent had Electra had strong acting skills.

The fact that Baywatch was looking for a new Captain and some rookie lifeguards was a great improvement in itself. The last time we saw rookies trying out for lifeguard positions was in the show's 5th season/(1994-1995). This time, the rookie qualification swim was a lot more detailed than in the past. Interviews as to why they wanted the job, the number assigned, the photo sessions as in relation to the numbers assigned. The stretching, the anticipation, and finally, the line-up for the swim. The problems getting out to the water to swim and how each handled it. How an anxious Manny Gutierez (Jose Solano) swam strong to lead the pack. And an nervous, worried dad, Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) with binoculars in hand, keeping a close eye on how son Hobie (Jeremy Jackson) was doing. How lake swimmer April Giminski (Kelly Packard) who wasn't used to the tide, and didn't seem to have a chance managed to join the pack. Manny qualified crossing the line first while Hobie, who didn't give 100% felt more comfortable in the last pack of qualifiers.

The desperate race for the last spot on the roster resulted in a loss for the Frat brat, Richie (Mark Auerbach) who was angered and started a fight. April who came in just after Richie, sat down to cry in disappointment for not making the cut. And a key spot when a rookie was injured (torn hamstring) and the spot offered to her. She was very happy and appreciative to get the chance. Richie on the other hand was angry because he had been next in line. He storms out. This plot with the rookies had the feeling of the older episodes. The quality is back. A little more sophisticated though, to accommodate equipment and rule changes for the current time.

Mitch is offered the Captain's position, which he turns down...again (offered once by Captain Don Thorpe (Monte Markham), as he was considering the Chief position for himself in Nightmare Bay/Parts 1 and 2/2nd season 1991-1992, and the result of turning it problems in Money, Honey/2nd season 1991-1992. This time, the Chief (Erin Gray/Silver Spoons) wanted him to take the position, as she personally held him responsible for the vacated position. Gray is a wonderful addition here. Mitch just explained that maybe she was still in love with her ex-husband. Captain Samantha Thomas' (Nancy Valen) ex was only described as her ex-business partner that she got romantically involved with. He  hurt her badly enough to make it hard to trust another relationship with co-worker. The Chief was persistent and determined to get Mitch to take that position. She wanted him to start right away and pointed out that he was the most qualified for the Captain's position.

In this episode, of the new cast members, Lani McKinzie (Carmen Electra) is the first to be introduced. We learn that she met Cody Madison (David Chokachi) while he was vacationing in Hawaii. She was his dive guide. She came to L.A. hoping for a shot as a professional dancer. She got a chance to perform during amateur night at a local club. She invited Cody to come. Lani's ex-boyfriend, Darren Homes (Hamilton Von Watts) showed up and started to harrass her. Cody got in the middle and the bouncer had to throw Darren out, but not before Darren could hit him hard-below the belt. Later, Lani told Cody that Darren thought that she came to the mainland to follow him. Darren saw them together in Hawaii and thought that Cody was interested in her.

Darren stalked her..while she and another rookie jogged on the beach and again during a rookie training session. Cody ssaw this and challenged Darren after he refuses to leave. The water fight was convincing as Darren tried to strangle and drown Cody with the cord of his rescue front of many witnesses yet. Michael "Newmy" Newman (Michael Newman), who was instructing the class, swam out to break it up. Darren mounts his board and swims off, threatening to sue. With witnesses watching what he did, and the fact that he was in the criminal act of stalking...I don't think so! The direction of the struggle was well done. And for some unknown reason, jealous maniacs really do get excessive strength when fighting for another person's affections. They do this even though they will never get that affection. This scene as well as the rescue scene were done well and puts less emphasis on Carmen Electra's weak acting skills.

Mitch and Hobie prepared dinner. Mitch brought up his concerns about the qualifying swim, and that he finished so far back. The fact that he didn't give 100% or even try to break a sweat. He didn't seem committed and if his heart wasn't in it, he shouldn't be out there (unfortunately, this would mean going to Summer school, as Mitch gave Hobie two choices before he picked rookie school). But it's good to see that the pressuring has lessened greatly (since the episode Liquid Assets/7th season 1996-1997). Hobie tells his dad that he might take into consideration that it's not easy being the son of a living legend. Mitch agrees to take that into consideration. It's apparent here that Hobie is afraid of messing up or of being compared to his father. Given his dad's immaculate reputation. It should also be noted the qualifier isn't most important as to whether a rookie finishes first or last. Where you finish in the final is what counts the most.

Manny, on the other hand, failed the eye test and is disqualified from rookie school. He finds out that without the contacts he wears, he must have 20/30 vision by strict county regulations. Manny's vision was 20/40. This rule seemed a bit harsh and outdated. As long as you can see fairly well in case the contacts come out and can still make the rescue, the rookie should not be disqualified. Contacts are going to enhance vision anyway. And no one would ever have guessed that Newmy and Caroline wore contacts. The impression was that they had perfect vision since no scene has never shown them mentioning contacts, nor were they shown holding a container that held the lenses. The rule should be modified or changed completely, as it is outdated.

Most memorable though, was the office scene when Manny was angered because he was told by Mitch that he couldn't be an L.A. county lifeguard because of the stiff county regulations. When Mitch offered to help him get a job at a private club where the regulations weren't so strict, Manny rejected the idea. Hobie suggested corrective laser surgery. Manny told him to get real and that he couldn't afford that. And was so angered that he broke a window in Mitch's office. Manny was hurt and told Mitch, "I was trained to be an L.A county lifeguard, not some second rate Cabana boy." He went on how the upper brass didn't see him win the qualifying race or how hard he had worked. They didn't know anything. But told Mitch, "...but you do Mitch...and all you can do is toss me a bone! Thanks..for..nothing!" He stormed out of Mitch's office. This scene gave Manny a bit of color. That he's capable of showing other emotions besides the only one displayed last year....over-enthusiasm. Jose Solano has a lot of potential. Now is time to start working toward that.

And then there's the rescue scene. When Lani was late for a meeting with Cody, he became concerned. With the help of Baywatch Headquarters, he tracked down the freighter that Darren came in on, and rushed to the boat to look for Lani. Darren had kidnapped her, planning to take her back to Hawaii. I couldn't understand why Lani didn't put up any kind of struggle. She just allowed him to take her, and he had no weapon! Lani needs more backbone.

However, she did hear a fight going on outside and managed to crawl through a porthole and grab a fire extinguisher. She sent a blast in Darren's face so that Cody could finish the fight. Darren is sent back to Hawaii to face a prior assault charge and a prison term.  My Score: 4 Rescue Cans

Next Review: Next Generation


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