Baywatch Nights (1995-1997)
Type: Spin Off
David Hasselhoff. You've got to reach out and take hold of his hand. You've got to reach out till your safe on dry land. That's at least what Hasselhoff claims in the end theme song to the show that would not die. Hasselhoff wouldn't let it! When it looked like the show was going to drown in network seas, Hasselhoff wrestled its ass to shore, pounded on its chest yelling at it that it had never given up on anything in its life, smacked it across the face and brought it back from death on the beach of syndicated television.
I know. You wanna know what I've been smoking. The show I'm going on and on in overly dramatic terms about is of course Baywatch. Baywatch was a show about California lifeguards that started on NBC. It originally starred the aforementioned D. Hasselhoff and former Hardy Boy Parker Stevenson. Parker Stevenson apparently joined the cast in the belief that Baywatch would be like L.A. Law for lifeguards, that it would treat their lives with that same degree of drama and realism. And you thought I was smoking something? Yeah, realism. The show eventually featured sea monsters, dangerous smugglers and David Hasselhoff swimming under the beach through sand to stop a bad guy! Yep, it was a regular documentary on the life of lifeguards.
To be fair, those things didn't happen till Parker S. was off the show. He left when the show left NBC. On NBC, Baywatch managed to prove that even a semi-realistic portrayal of lifeguards was not all that much to cheer about (sorry lifeguards). But following one year on NBC, Baywatch returned as a syndicated series where it thrived. It thrived by adding all the cheesy goofy plot elements listed above. There were more. And lots of shots of hot girls in bathing suits didn't hurt either (there were hunky guys for any female viewers as well).
After six years of dragging drowning victims out of the sea, David Hasselhoff was in the mood to try something new. He wasn't stupid though. You don't turn your back on a hit show. Instead he tried to use Baywatch as the platform to launch a spin off series called Baywatch Nights.
Baywatch Nights was a show about David Hasselhoff's lifeguard character Mitch Bucannon taking on a second job as a private investigator. To his credit, Hasselhoff still appeared on Baywatch while also starring in the spin off. Say what you will, the man's a hard worker. Also coming over from Baywatch was Garner Ellerbee. On Baywatch he had been a cop. In the spin off he quit to become Mitch's partner. Other Baywatch folk of course also made the occasional appearance. Angie Harmon, who would later go on to respectable and impressive work on Law And Order, played Mitch's other partner Ryan McBride. Good lord, how many P.I.s does one show frickin' need?
The show made one serious miscalculation though. It took the beach out of Baywatch! No beach, no T & A, no fun, no ratings. Desperate to fix the show, changes were made that once again must prompt the phrase "what were they smoking?" In its second season, Baywatch Nights took on a ... oh I can't even say it... a supernatural feel. Yes, they made it X-Files meets Baywatch. Mitch went from saving drowning victims to staking vampires.
I guess I can sort of see the logic. Baywatch flopped when it tried to be serious and became a hit when they cheesed it up, why not do something similar for the new show? To be fair, Buffy The Vampire Slayer mixed action, comedy and goofy fun into a successful show. It just doesn't jive with Baywatch's reality. A giant killer squid you can sort of buy. It's a show about the ocean. Squids exist in real life at least. But the undead? The undead being battled by a moonlighting lifeguard? Come on. At least with Buffy slaying was her prime gig and not just something to do for extra money. And besides, there was still not enough T & A. Baywatch equals hot bodies not cold dead bodies. After its second season, Baywatch Nights was pronounced D.O.A. Not even Mitch Bucannon could save this floundering series.Other Baywatch Crossover Links
Baywatch and Baywatch Hawaii
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