Baywatch-Season 1 (1989) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1989|
|Running Time||1086:53 (Case: 963)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (5)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Gregory J. Bonann
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Case||6 Clip and Ring|
Arthur B. Rubinstein
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
What would drive a grown man to reconstruct themselves like the six million dollar man with plastic surgery, start a band that gets knocked off the charts by the most notorious high-profile Hollywood murder of the 1990s, star in a children’s show next to an animated sponge, develop severe problems with alcohol, get taped drunk out of their mind by their daughter and consequently lose visitation rights? Could it be a converted Pontiac with flashing lights and dials and an artificial intelligence named K.I.T.T.? No? Then how about this – Baywatch: Season 1!
The opening credits say it all, as Hasselhoff, starring as Lt. Mitch Buchannon, runs up the beach, his tanned pecs bouncing, then to a cutaway of Erika Eleniak, running up the beach, her tanned breasts bouncing ... If my halcyon days ended with the final roll of credits for this show in 2000 (thereafter it was relocated to Hawaii and retitled Baywatch: Hawaii sans Hasselhoff), I’d develop an alcohol problem too. So much sun, sand and silicone – you’d want it all back as well, and would have a d*** hard time letting it go.
In case you weren’t born until 2002, or did not own a television from 1989 to present, and have never seen Borat, I’ll give a brief recap of the premise of the series. Set on the coast of Southern California, Baywatch follows the work and interrelationships of a group of extremely attractive and well-manicured lifeguards. Day-in, day-out, these guys are on the beach – the thin red line between summer surfing fun and a drowning watery death. As this crew busily exchange bathing suits for birthday suits, Mitch struggles to teach his son Hobie (Jeremy Jackson) good family values amongst decadent Southern California, and all the temptation thereabouts.
But who cares about plot? Let’s get down to the real star of this show – T&A. In fact a lot of famous T&A, er, sorry, I mean faces, famous faces, have graced the cast of this show – from Erica Eleniak, Pamela Anderson, and Yasmine Bleeth to Brooke Burns, Nicole Eggert and Carmen Electra. This season, it’s Erica Eleniak as Shauni McClain, complete with 80s teased “big hair” and large eyebrows that don’t match her hair-colour – now I just need her to jump out of my birthday cake in nothing but bikini bottoms. Hmmm, okay, maybe not these days. But if I were Steven Seagal trying to wrest control of a US Naval boat that’s been hijacked by terrorists in 1990 (or really just myself in 1990), that’s exactly what I’d want. She struts that face up the beach with immaculate make up, big, big, big 80s hair (hell, everyone in this show has big, big, big 80s hair) and finely crafted and manicured nails (apparently the salt water has done nothing to dry her skin out – where do I get her moisturizer?), and looks pouty as often as possible. All class.
As you can tell, this show is, in a lot of respects, little more than eye candy with an 80s soundtrack (though, disappointing, the producers of this DVD could not afford the music licensing costs of the opening and closing credits tracks, or indeed any of the other music from the originals, so you won’t be bopping along to those old classic tracks). Take, for example, your average scene:
(jumping up and down and pointing out to sea)
Mitch! Mitch! Oh my God, that boy is drowning! He’s drowning! What do I do? What do I do?
(watching Shauni’s assets as they jump up and down with her)
Now, Shauni. As a rookie you need to follow our lead. Do what we do. What we say. Do that pose, again, you know, that one. .... Yes.
But he’s drowning!
Look, I’m Mitch Buchannon. Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon to you missy. And when I say strike a pose, I mean, strike a pose.
(cups her breasts ... er, I mean, hands to her face)
Oh my God, I think he’s gone under!
(staring out to sea)
Hmmm. Well that’s okay then. Not our problem any more. I’m sure he’ll wash up on the beach in a couple of days.
(sits back in his director's chair and opens a beer)
Shame I didn’t get to run up the beach in slow motion though.
(downs his beer and tosses the empty onto the sand, opens another beer)
But, I guess there’s always next time. Now, strike a pose and let's hear some 80s music. Yes, that’s right.
Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but not too significant a deviation from the general plot points of this show.
Of course, that’s not to discount the value of Baywatch – it is apparently one of the most watched TV shows, ever. Such a damning indictment on the lowest common denominator, really. But, then again, there’s nothing like some quality bathing-suit clad T&A at 7:30p.m. on a Friday night (trust me, I’ve just done an all-night Baywatch bender). Now all I need is a six pack of beer and a bottle of Bundy.
What was really amusing was noticing how many plot lines in here were recycled by later dramas, and also how often this show was parodied by another drama set in Southern California – The O.C.. You’ve got everything here from the “Off we go to Mexico” episode to the “Disaster earthquake” episode. Too cool for school.
The following is a breakdown of how these episodes are distributed across the 4 discs of this season. For those of you who need a complete episode summary, you can get one at the IMDB or at TV.com.
What else can I say? Relive those late 80s and early 90s memories with some classic Baywatch nostalgia – deep down, you know you want to. Plus, the Hoff needs your support, man. Or at least a spot beside you on the couch sharing your six-pack and your bottle of Bundy. Oh, and Erika Eleniak in a swimsuit ... in every episode. Yeah, that should be enough....
Filmed on 35mm film with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Full Frame, and transferred to video in that ratio for broadcast, we are given a DVD transfer by Force Video that has not been altered from its original broadcast look – indeed, given this is a Region 0 coded NTSC disc, my bet is that this was made from the original NTSC broadcast tapes. Bearing in mind this is a 1980s show that has not undergone any significant cleaning up, this does not look all that bad, but it’s still a long way from looking good.
I watched most of this on my 42” Sony E-Series rear-projection screen. I had a go at the pilot and last episode on the front projector, but the information just isn’t there for scaling to 720p front projection – the image looks seriously grainy and washed out on a large scale and the black level faults are all too apparent. On a smaller scale, the picture comes up better, with most of the faults apparent on a 100” screen far less noticeable on a 42” screen (bearing in mind that at 1.33:1 only a little over half the surface area of a 16:9 screen is being used anyway). This is also a fairer examination of the disc – this show was never meant to be broadcast on super large screens, which in the late 1980s and early 1990s were really a luxury of the extremely affluent (we will see what some of the later seasons look like).
Colour saturation is acceptable for a show of this age, but it’s still quite washed out all things considered. Colours are a little bit too red, but overall not ridiculous.
The picture is very prone to MPEG artefacts like aliasing, moire, chroma noise, low level noise, cross-colouration, dot-crawl, edge enhancements and gibb effect. This gives the picture and overall soft and imperfect look, compounded by the numerous film artefacts, such as dirt, hairs, reel mark changes and splice marks. To its credit, while all of these faults are present, they are never overwhelming or of a nature that completely ruin the enjoyment of the show, but they do make it a little awkward to watch for extended periods when you know how good a transfer can really be.
There are no subtitles.
The dual layer pauses fall in between the episodes.
Audio is available in English in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (192Kb/s) only.
This is this is a decent soundtrack with acceptable range, and reasonably clear dialogue, though the dialogue on some of the outdoor scenes is sometimes a little unclear. This is a fairly centred track with minimal in the way of directional cues.
Those who are fans of the original songs will be disappointed – the producers of this DVD could not afford the music licensing rights. So that well known opening theme track has been replaced and many of the other songs throughout the season, probably all, but I don’t remember the originals in every episode, so...).
Sadly, no subwoofer use unless you use your system to redirect the bass.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio track of the substituted theme music. The other menus are static and silent.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Interestingly enough, we seen to have the real winner over here for completists. The R1 release of the series on DVD starts with the second series. What we have here is the true first series that ran on NBC before being cancelled and picked up by a rival network. As a result of this change in networks, several cast members left and a whole lot of storylines were changes. The Australian R0 release starts at the start with the first NBC series, and the true second season (or first season of the new series) is also available in Australia, all in sequential order. Given this is region free and NTSC, it should make a great buy for the US audiences, particularly those who were fans of Ms Eleniak. Although these episodes are being released two at a time as bonus episodes on the US releases, it’s going to be a while before the whole thing is properly released. Unfortunately, none of the releases have the original music.
Baywatch is a legend ... of sorts. Infamous in its own way, yet still highly disposable as drunken Friday night entertainment at 2 a.m., we seem to have the release of choice here in Australia for the first season. Grab it while you can.
|DVD||Sony DVPNS92, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-HS60 WXGA 3LCD Cineza Projector (10,000:1 contrast ratio) with 100" Longhom Pro-Series Micro-Textured White Matte PVC 1.78:1 16:9 Fixed Mount Screen with Black Velour Trim. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Jensen QX70 Centre Front, Jensen QX45 Left Front & Right Front, Jensen QX20 Left Rear & Right Rear, Jensen QX-90 Dual 10" 250 Watt Subwoofer|