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****Sharkey's Review****
 
Next Generation
 2nd Episode/#156/8th Season (1997-1998)
Date Aired: 10/11/97   Encore: 10/17/97
Week of: 10/05/97 - 10/11/97 
 
My Score:  4 Rescue Cans
 
This Week's Quote: "When you think you've exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven't."
                                             -Robert H. Schuller
 
Ratings:
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!)

The premier episode continued its trend and strong storylines with Next Generation. This week, the main plots in this second episode concentrated on April Giminski (new cast member Kelly Packard), Manny Gutierez (Jose Solano), Hobie Buchannon (Jeremy Jackson) and Hobie's Dad, Mitch (David Hasselhoff).

All Rookie plots were strong and wonderful. The struggle with a Lieutenant who tries to resist moving on to a higher position and is reminded of the youth of his own Rookie Summer 25 years ago gives the episode polish and depth. Rookie training and drills were demonstrated under Michael "Newmy" Newman (Michael Newman), who does a fantastic job as the tough trainer to get the very best out of the rookies. As a lifeguard in real life, he is completely natural and comfortable in this role. Now that he is a main cast member, he gets to show what he can do.

Also, the talented Kelly Packard was wonderful with her portrayal of a struggling rookie trying to make the final team after the accident with the jetskier resulting in a concussion. She really made viewers want to cheer her on. She displayed hope, courage, and determination. I really look forward to seeing a lot more of her in future episodes.

Again, a special note must be given to Erin Gray, who brings a fresh, polished authoritative figure to the episode for balance. Jose Solano is getting to branch out more this year and is very impressive, especially in showing other emotions. I look forward to seeing Jose Solano in more challenging storylines that will allow him to expand. I think that the challenge of different situations of rescue storylines will let us see a broader range of his acting skills. Jeremy Jackson gives very strong performance and support in the acting department to the other actors as well as impressing with his lifeguarding skills (he actually serves as a real junior lifeguard in his community). After watching him being groomed to be a lifeguard over the years, you knew that his character Hobie had tremendous talent, but just wanted him to display it.

As we had learned in the last episode, Manny had stormed out of Mitch's office after learning that he was disqualified from rookie school because his 20/40 eyesight didn't meet the county requirement of 20/30. Manny's mom had called headquarters concerned because he didn't come home that night. Newmy explained what happened. Feeling that everything he had worked for was for nothing, Manny returns to the barrio. Too upset to see a solution to the problem. However, during this time he gets to calm down and think about the situation. Manny was brought up well by his mother. And when faced with making a hard decision for yourself, reason usually wins out. He knew what he had to do.

Mitch argues with Chief Johnson (Erin Gray) that the regulation against contact lenses that kept Manny out of rookie school are outdated and unfair. That they are the only county unit that still had a requirement of 20/30 vision. The Police Department, Fire Department, etc. all had upgraded their regulations to 20/40. The Chief agrees to consider his recommendation-if Mitch agrees to reconsider turning down his promotion to Captain. The Chief insisted that the rookies needed his leadership. I loved the way she made him think here. Making Mitch see that instead of wasting his talent staying in one place-in a tower and reliving his youth, he could help a lot of the youngsters. How could he possibly help Manny just being assigned to a tower? To help Manny and those who follow him down the line, Mitch would have to step up to a more authoritative, challenging position.

It's interesting too, how this point goes back to the first episode. Mitch had given Hobie a choice of rookie school or Summer school. Now Mitch is faced with a simular situation. He either help the deserving Manny so that he can be reinstated by accepting the Captain's position. Or not help him by staying in the Lieutenant's position and just be content in being assigned to oversee the beach and assigned a tower. Mitch is far too talented for that. It was time for Mitch to pass the can on to Hobie and tell him to take it and swim with it. After all, still in great shape, he could still assist in occassional rescues and give pointers to the rookies.

After looking over the lifeguard manual, April and her friends, Lani McKenzie (Carmen Electra), and Skylar Bergman (Marliece Andrada), opted to go out on a practice swim. April wanting to practice her "Ins and Outs." A jetskier circles around them maliciously. The tether of April's rescue can tangles on the Jetski intake, thus dragging her through the water. She struggles to breathe and tries to keep from being strangled at the same time. When the jetskier came to a sudden stop, April's momentum carried her forward and she hit her head on the Jetski. Satisfied for the moment, the jetskier takes off. Lani and Skylar helped April out of the water. April makes her friends promise not to tell anyone about the incident. She didn't want Newmy and the other lifeguards to think that she couldn't handle herself in the water.

However, not telling proved to be an ill-fated decision. Donna (Donna D'Errico) noticed that April didn't look so good during training exercises. April insisted that she was all right. Up next, she swims out to the cargo net on the obstacle course. Hobie was after her and caught up and was already climbing onto the net. Stalling, while looking downward, he was concerned, as April didn't seem well and was struggling to hold on. He kept calling out to her asking if she was all right. She faints and falls backward into the water, her foot getting tangled in the net. She dangled upside down, head under water. Hobie quickly yells out to Newmy for back up just before leaping to her rescue.

As Hobie lifts her head and upper torso out of the water, Newmy arrives quickly. Newman then tells him to support the brunt of her weight while he worked to get her foot free. As they head out of the water, Hobie holds her head steady while Newman carried her. Newmy was wonderful here calling out instructions as they lowered her onto the board and strapped her in to keep her steady. April was weak, still with her eyes closed directing her grateful words at Hobie and said, "Thank you, Hobie." And he said with reassurance and compassion that she was going to be all right. This was a real rescue situation first hand and everyone did everything right. Beneficial to the rookies. April would be all right, as she had a slight concussion and would be out in a couple of days to rejoin the other rookies. Later, Newmy told Mitch that he didn't have to worry about Hobie. He had lifeguard in his blood. Yes, he did.

Later when out on watercraft maneuver practice, the rookies spot the culprit. April and Lani asks if a lifeguard can make an arrest, and tells Cody and Newmy about what happened when the jetskier circled them maliciously. And that when April hit her head must have caused her to fall off the net. Cody and Newman chased the culprit down, only to discover that it's Richie (Mark Auerbach), the Frat Brat that was angry over April being chosen over him on the roster. Richie would not have made it as a lifeguard at Baywatch. Richie displayed a lot of ruthless violence when Cody and Newmy chased him down and hit Newmy as hard as he could in the middle of his face. Practically hard enough to cause a nose bleed! Thank goodness it wasn't bleeding! But Newmy was a bit stunned and slow in getting back onto his Waverunner. And a scarab had to join in the chase. He struggled extremely hard to the very end as the helmet was lifted from his face. The result from being a bouncer at a wild Frat House. He had another assault charge to add on to the list when he hit Newmy. I'm all for locking this guy up....under the jail!

Manny was sitting in Mitch's office. He apologized to Mitch for losing his temper and breaking the window in his office. He offered to pay for it, but Mitch told him not to worry-that it was in the budget to have it fixed. Manny knew that he belonged at Baywatch and would do whatever it took to be an L.A. county lifeguard. So he asked Mitch to help him get that job at the nearby club that he suggested earlier. That he'd put off college and work full-time to earn the money to have that corrective laser eye surgery that Hobie suggested. Mitch was so impressed and touched by Manny's commitment and arranges for him to get back into rookie school in time for the final qualifying race, The Gauntlet. The top ten finishers would get hired as lifeguards. The Gauntlet would also determine the coveted spot, the Rookie of the Year.

This last leg proved exciting as the rookie's lined up and waited for the gun to go off. Hobie, who held back purposely in the qualifying race, used both talent and experience to help him lead the way throughout the course. He looked very impressive here as he made his way up the net and over the top. Meanwhile, April was having a bit of trouble with the net, pausing, perhaps remembering her last encounter here. She didn't have Hobie to help her out this time, so she had to do this on her own. And she went for it. She dived off the platform and joined the pack of swimmers.

As the swimmers made their way on to the shore, there was a struggle for placement. In a tight race with Manny, Hobie saw his father standing at the line cheering for him. Oh how I loved this scene! Hobie crossed the line first, grabbing the 1st placement stick from his hand. Proud Mitch cried out, "Hobester...," and looked playfully at his empty hand and then fisted it. Hobie congratulated Manny on a great race. Mitch looked over at Hobie, eyes shining with pride. Hobie's eyes met his, and he gave his dad a shy, modest smile in return. As everyone crossed over the line, we see a struggling April seemingly not able to make it. She sees that she is in a frantic race for that last spot. The other rookies were cheering her on. April suddenly wanted this, and she reached inside to find the sheer determination to pass the rookie in front of her. It was suddenly a very tight race and she stretched as far as she could to grab the stick to outreach the other rookie. She had won the last spot on the roster! Mitch seemed relieved and gave her a proud glance. He knew that she'd make it. The other rookies were all both relieved and happy for her, exchanging hugs.

The Gaunlet was a very exciting part of the plot and touched different emotions. The scene was well directed as it looked like a real rookie competition final. A few points here...Hobie finally made up his mind to give 100% and live up to his ability which accounted for an exciting climax for the event. As a junior lifeguard for probably as long as he could remember, why waste the talent? And April, who demonstrated that her possibility to get the job she needed wasn't exhausted. Never give up, Never! She really made you to want her to get that last spot. And Manny. If another officer had been in Mitch's place, he or she would have just gone by the book and dismissed the eyesight problem without a second thought.

And always a favorite, the final scene where Mitch catches up with Hobie on the beach to congratulate him on his placement. For the second time in history, a Buchannon had won the Rookie of the Year title. They raised their hands for high fives. Mitch was so proud. Mitch told him that he could choose his own beach assignment. And Hobie told him that he knew that. It was his choice and wanted to be assigned to Zuma Beach, wanting to get from under the shadow of his famous father. But Hobie told Mitch that they saw a lot of each other at home that it would be best if he worked at Zuma. Mitch was stunned, but he told Hobie good-naturedly that he wished he had told him that before he decided to accept the Captain's position. Hobie was happy about that. But Mitch continued to state that Zuma Beach was under his jurisdiction as well. And as they closed the scene with one of their most famous trademarks, father/son "walk on the beach," Hobie complained in good-natured fashion, while Mitch kept answering his complaints in an equally good-natured fashion. He said that he'd be looking over Hobie's shoulder for the rest of his life. We hadn't seen one of these scenes since Hobie was 14 years old, which was the show's 6th season. It was pleasing to see again. I hope that we get to see more of them.  My Score: 4 Rescue Cans

Next Review: The Choice

 

 
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