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****Sharkey's Review****
 
Charlie
 5th Episode/8th Season (1997-1998)
Date Aired: 10/26/97   Encore: 11/26/97
Week of: 10/26/97 - 11/26/97 
 
My Score:  5 Rescue Cans
 
This Week's Quote: "I'm gust glad I could be here."
                                             -Charlie Everett Hays (1984-1997)
 
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 show turned to real life for its brilliant, emotional 5th episode. This week's episode was based on the true story of little Charlie Everett Hays (June 29, 1984 - January 30, 1997), who had Medullary Thyroid Cancer, a rare disease found in children. Because of his life, researchers found a genetic marker for the disease. In the future, early detection of this form of cancer should prevent children from dying.

The episode had two plots that blended together nicely to center around April Giminski's (Kelly Packard) young brother Charlie (Michael Cuccioni). Charlie and his mother Paige (Judith Ledford) came to Baywatch for a visit. April wasn't happy to have her family at Baywatch. Seeing that Charlie was so sick was hard for her because she didn't like everyone being nice to Charlie out of pity. Everyone was told that Charlie had a rare form of cancer and was getting treatment at UCLA. Out of emotional turmoil, she revealed to Captain Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) that Charlie was not really having treatment done at UCLA. He was used for research for the scientists who were working to better treat and detect this type of cancer.

She tearfully admitted that there was no cure or hope for Charlie. Charlie was going to die very soon. April apologized to Mitch because she thought that having Charlie around must have been a downer for everyone. Mitch had a talk with her and set her straight. Mitch showed how inspiring Charlie really was. Charlie had enough courage and strength to help other kids who were sick by allowing the scientists to do tests on him. April realized that Mitch was right.

The second plot is about the annual Talpin dory race. Mitch and Michael "Newmy" Newman (Michael Newman) have won this event for seven years in a row. This year Mitch wasn't going to compete. He wanted Hobie to have a turn, but Hobie went to and convinced Mitch to compete. He told Mitch that he couldn't be the best without beating the best.

Charlie has the time of his life with the lifeguards. Charlie loved being on the beach and learning about lifeguarding and he even started to help. Mitch took him on a Windjet and let him drive. Hobie wrote a song with Charlie. April was grateful to them for making the last days of Charlie's life so special.

During the race, Mitch and Newmy rowed strong to keep the lead until the third leg when Hobie and the brilliant Aussie, Ingo Dobbins (Jonathan Crow) came in close and just passed them. Depending on the run up the beach and to the finish line, Hobie kept the lead and crossed the finish line before his father. The seven-year streak was broken, but Mitch felt prouder than ever. The trophy was still in the family. Hobie decided to give the trophy to Charlie. When Charlie died, the lifeguards gave their own special salute to him. They played the song he wrote with Hobie and proclaimed his courage and strength all across the beach, calling him a hero.

Michael Cuccioni, who portrayed Charlie Hays in this episode, was one of those children Charlie helped save. Michael has been in remission for two years. The performances were first rate all around. Young Michael Cuccioni came across wonderfully as Charlie. Charlie, who was always bright, cheerful, and courageous wanted to make a difference. He inspired many. He never complained. He said, "I was just glad I could be here." He will never be forgotten.

The content of the final scenes was extremely emotional. When Charlie was much too tired to finish watching the Talpin race, and rested in the arms of April and his Mother, telling them to "watch for me." And when Mitch and his son Hobie (Jeremy Jackson) tried hurrying out to him, rowing as fast as they could in a dory, only to find that Charlie had been too tired to "stay." Their eyes filled with tears. The very convincing, classy funeral scene-the best I've ever seen on the show. The music piece was beautiful. And then at the end of the episode, the tribute.

I actually cried during the scenes above, especially during the funeral. I used a full box of tissues. Tears stayed with me for a couple of hours after viewing it.  My Score: 5 Rescue Cans

Next Review: Lifeguard Confidential

 

 
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