I was just a teenage boy in 1989 when I first tuned into a new show. I remembered really liking Knight Rider a few years before, so any show that starred Michael Knight was OK by me. This was the the turn of the decade from the 80s to the 90s. The internet and all the wonders that would unlock was still about six years in my future.
Back in those days we had to rely on our imaginations, or a few precious and shared magazines, for our… ahem… entertainment. If you ever came into possession of a VHS video cassette containing the pleasures of the flesh, that was it, you were immediately anointed as some kind of King.
Then, as I first watched Baywatch, Erika Eleniak walked into my young life, and I don’t think I was ever the same again.
A few years later she left the show, but my broken heart was immediately healed by a new arrival as the pause button on my VCR reached breaking point.
Saturday night became some kind of sun-kissed softcore party with improbable tales and outlandish spin-offs (Baywatch Nights, anyone?) as swimsuits were magnificently filled in Southern California.
So it was something of a surprise when the Baywatch movie remake, starring the usually reliable Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, missed the mark so badly. Johnson and Zac Efron have good comic timing. Alexandra Daddario looks amazing. How could they seemingly miss the magic of the old show? It was almost as if nobody making it had ever seen the TV show, or had no idea what it was that made it work.
Above all else it wasn’t really funny, and somehow cost $65m to make. Just to put that into context, that is between 2 and 3 times the budget of John Wick.
Pamela Anderson already said she was not a fan. Now another TV star has given some details about some behind the scenes wrangling that killed off a pitch for a modern reboot on CBS. David Chokachi said this was killed due to the movie:
“I had pitched them, they rebooted every show from the ’90s and I’d say half of them were hits. I was like, ‘Why are you guys lagging on this, why didn’t you try and strike?… Then the movie came out and the movie squashed any idea. CBS was going to do the show, I had a meeting with them, a location scout. Then the movie came out and instead CBS went with [Magnum PI] that year.”
The original was once the most watched TV show in the world after Hasselhoff himself turned it around from cancellation into syndication. Canned after just one season, eventually in syndication it had over 1.1 billion viewers a week as it entered it’s golden age of Yasmine Bleeth, Pamela Anderson and Alexandra Paul.
It eventually left our screens in 2001 with several TV movies along the way, spin offs and a Hawaii relocation that included a young Jason Mamoa in the cast.