Note: For the benefit of those who haven’t read Liz’s previous JAG Down Under review, the introduction from that piece is repeated below. Others may wish to skip ahead to the current Review.
Well, a change is as good as a holiday, they say, so I thought I’d spend my summer hiatus with the fine fellows of Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension. However, the world being what it is, no-one gets nuthin’ for nuthin’, and instead of a relaxing few weeks, I find myself in the midst of a working holiday â€“ to wit, tackling those projects which, requiring an [*cough*] exotic (and exchange-rate friendly) location, packed up their cast and crew and headed for the sunny shores of Oz.
The results of this, ah, “cultural” exchange tend to fall into two categories. Some shows do use Australia purely as an exotic location, inserting stock footage of the usual suspects while their characters go about their normal business. The results are usually painless.
On the other hand, some shows decide to go native. They create Australian characters, integrate them into the plot, and give them reams of dialogue peppered with the local vernacular.
The results could make your head explode.
ii. Some Basics
The first thing you notice about these shows is that they are never, ever suffixed with the expression “—in Australia”. Instead, the title is invariably Such-And-Such Down Under.
The problem with this, of course, is that – with very rare exceptions – no-one in Australia ever uses the expression “Down Under”.
What are those exceptions, you might ask?
1. When writing song lyrics.
Let’s face it, “Australia” is not the easiest word to rhyme. Sure, pronounce it “Oz-TRAYYL-ya” (as many have), and you give yourself a few options, but nothing to compare with the possibilities granted by the syllables of “under”: thunder, wonder, plunder, blunder.
2. When trying to avoid geographical confusion.
After the Sydney Olympics, the organizing committee published a list of the ten questions most frequently asked by prospective tourists in the lead-up to the Games. Coming in fourth was “When/where can I hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir?”
3. When trying to see how much BS we can feed to gullible Americans.
Yes, though I blush to confess it, it’s true: we Australians do sometimes pile on the “local colour” when talking to tourists. And I blush even more to confess that the most popular target for this behaviour is Americans. They have such beautiful natures! â€“ open, honest, trustingâ€¦.
I mean, come on! How could we resist!?
This reflection on “local colour” leads us to the one constant point of the Down Under projects: the endlessly bizarre dialogue. Don’t get me wrong: Australian is a difficult language, chock full of slang, and abbreviations, and nicknames â€“ not to mention the local intonation, which no-one else in the world seems to be able to duplicate (when they try, it generally comes out sounding either South African or Cockney). If the producers really wanted to amuse/entertain/bewilder their audience, they’d only have to make their dialogue accurate. But this never happens. Instead, these shows invariably feature a mindboggling mixture of anachronisms, misused expressions, and flat-out what-the-fudge?-s. Which leads to the question – who writes this stuff? Do the shows use their normal writers? â€“ and if so, do those writers spend a couple of days amongst the locals, then try to reproduce what they’ve heard? Or do they just make it up?
Or â€“ do the producers hire an advisor? â€“ and does that advisor, perhaps, see an opportunity to take Point #3 to a whole new level? Somehow, I’m unable to shake a mental picture of the individuals hired to provide the necessary “colour” for these shows counting their fees and giggling in an evil and manic fashion while reflecting, “I cannot believe they swallowed that!!”
iii. Jabootu Hears The Call
The lead-up to the Sydney Olympics saw a rush of “Down Under” television specials. The ones that made it first to Australian screens suggest that even as I am now luxuriating in Jabootu’s personal realm, he once graced my backyard with his presence. Certainly, the overall standard of these programs indicates that despite being in the middle of a well-earned rest, everyone’s favourite ebon deity saw that he was needed, and interrupted his holiday to make a personal contribution to their production, thus lifting them from the level of mere television mediocrity up into the realm of the truly, embarrassingly awful.
Editor Ken: Sans instructions, I had to illustrate this article in a manner I thought Liz herself would have, had she the opportunity. I hope she likes it.
As I imagine everyone here knows by now, Baywatch was canned in its 12th (!) season, after the show had been moved to Hawaii in an attempt to boost its sagging ratings. What you may not know is that Deathwatch very nearly happened in Sydney. The “Down Under” episodes were shot in the northern beachside suburb of Avalon, and for a while the producers were contemplating moving the show there on a permanent basis. After the experience of the original shoot, however, the Avalon residents (who, after all, pay a great deal of money to live where they do), decided that enough was enough. Having been banned from their own beach â€“ and rather forcibly escorted away by security guards if they ventured onto it – not to mention being brusquely ordered to “keep quiet” well into the day because the stars were sleeping, the locals banded together to stage a heated and angry protest. As one commentator put it, they “reacted as if the producers had said they were planning on burying toxic waste on the beach”.
Which is nonsense, of course.
The producers never had any intention of burying itâ€¦.
I started out my JAG review by confessing that I’d never watched an episode of the show before, and I can almost make the same claim here. Almost. If I’m to be perfectly honest, I must confess that I did once tune into Baywatch on purpose. It was the episode where someone-or-other was nearly dragged to her death by a giant octopus. (The cephalopod in question had, of course, figured prominently in the pre-screening advertisements.) Well, watch it I did, right up to the moment when the potential victim, while being dragged into the depths, carefully pushed the hair out of her face for the camera. At which point I gave a bray of contemptuous laughter and watched a Fred Olen Ray film instead.
I managed to avoid seeing any more of Baywatch (excepting the opening five seconds of the occasional episode – it screens right after The Simpsons here, so, you knowâ€¦.) until, duty calling, I braced myself to sit through the “Down Under” episodes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, upon the whole, the shows fall into “Category A” as defined in my JAG review â€“ i.e. using the country as a backdrop for its characters, but not getting into that whole “local colour” thing. Given the boundaries I imposed upon myself when I started out to write these pieces, did this mean that Baywatch Down Under didn’t qualify!?
Of course not. I mean â€“ come on! It’s Baywatch, after allâ€¦.
Baywatch Down Under opens with a car submerged in a river, a man trapped inside it. The rescue team eventually extricates him, and surfaces to check on one another. “Everyone here?” inquires Mitch (the one â€“ the only â€“ DAVID HASSELHOFF!! Whoo hoo!!). “Yeah,” responds one of the others immediately. Mitch continues to look around, however, and notices that someone is missing. “Where’s Jake?” he demands. “I don’t see him,” replies the person who originally claimed that everyone was present and accounted for. A frantic search ensues. The whole team thrashes around on the surface yelling, “Jake! Jake!” â€“ which, under the circumstances, seems fairly counterintuitive.
Sure enough, a brief shot below the surface shows us the missing Jake trapped beneath a submerged tree branch, and emitting a rather alarming stream of bubbles. Eventually, Mitch and his team assure themselves that Jake is not above water, and begin to dive. The women seem to have some trouble staying submerged â€“ must be those floaties they carry with them, I guess [Editor Ken: Is that what you call them! Snort! Giggle!] â€“ but Mitch and a male team member locate their comrade, who is still emitting a constant stream of bubbles. They manage to pull him free and haul him to the surface. He tries to thank his rescuers, but the heroic and modest Mitch waves this aside, of course. “This time I got you, next time you get me.” (Subtle foreshadowing?) Then â€“ “LET’S GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE!!”
Cue opening credits. Apart from The Mighty Hoff himself, the only person I recognize is Mitzi Kapture (“Alex”), one-time star of the late lamented Silk Stalkings (another Channel 7 show! â€“ whatta network!). I’m glad to see she got more work because, you know, “Mitzi Kapture”. Heh! Strangely, the credits do not reveal who wrote these episodes – which possibly speaks for itself.
The show proper opens with a scene in the oddest communal shower I have ever seen (not that I’ve seen that many, I guessâ€¦.). The entire team is there, really showering â€“ you know, soap and all â€“ but they are still dressed in their trademark red swimsuits! Hmm â€“ maybe they never come off!? (“You will take my red cozzie from me only when you peel it from my cold, dead body!”) A brief cutaway shows us a guy in a suit lurking in the doorway (I guess if no-one takes their clothes off, they don’t need to shut the door) as the lifeguards discuss Jake’s experience. One of the girls (“Jessie”) comments that Jake must have been terrified, a remark that tags her as a rookie. On the contrary, Jake explains, his training kicked in, and he was perfectly calm. “My mind was clear â€“ clearer than it’s ever been!” Well, no difficulty believing that.
The lurking suit draws near. “Jake,” he pronounces. “Eric,” responds Jake, looking less than thrilled. “What the hell are you doing here?” “We have to talk,” replies Eric. “We have nothing to talk about,” snaps Jake. “Can I see you in private?” Eric inquires, perhaps as creeped out by this situation as I am. Jake chooses to take this as some kind of threat. “You wanna step outside?” Another of the lifeguards (“Cody”) feels called upon to intervene. Jake explains edgily that Eric is his ex-wife’s old boyfriend â€“ “and current lawyer,” he adds with limitless contempt, ordering him to say what he has to say.
“Clare’s dead,” replies Eric obediently. “A traffic accident.”
Jake is (thankfully) stunned into silence. The camera pans around, showing us the shocked expressions of his friends. (Wow! Everyone in this show has blue eyes! It’s just like a Sergio Leone movie!)
“There’s something else,” says Eric.
“What else could there possibly be?” demands the anguished Jake.
(Oh, gee, I wonder? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Buellerâ€¦?)
“A child,” replies Eric. Surprise! “He’s your son â€“ and he’s called Terence.” He drops a photograph onto a table, adding, “There’s an address on the back.” And so there is: Avalon Beach S.L.S.C., Sydney. It’s a little known fact that Australian Surf Life-Saving Clubs double as orphanages.
“What am I supposed to do?” wails Jake. Eric has been heading for the door, but here he looks back. “Do? Do what you always do, Jake.” (You know, it’s pretty tragic when you never watch a show, but you can predict not just plot “twists”, but whole chunks of dialogue. Like right here. All together now!) “Run away.” And having flown halfway around the world for this five-minute conversation, exit Eric.
Jake walks slowly forward to pick up the picture of his son â€“ which is lying next to a prominent display of PAUL MITCHELL brand toiletries. (Hey, never mind that. I wanna know what cosmetics the girls use â€“ they last and last! Through everything from freezing cold river rescues, to warm communal showers with your friends!) The photograph shows a cute little boy hugging an even cuter puppy dog. Awwwwâ€¦.
Absorbed in his troubles, Jake stares out at the pounding surf*, and we finally learn that these episodes were written by one Maurice Hurley. These were his only writing credits for the series, but he later served as executive producer for Baywatch Nights (!). Now, when a young man is troubled in his soul, who would he want to turn to but The Mighty Hoff? And sure enough, Mitch soon sidles up to Jake. “Heard about your loss,” he comments tactfully, then prompts, “I didn’t know you were married?” And then we get the tragic tale of how while “beating around the world â€“ surfin’, goofin’ off” â€“ Jake met “this incredible girl” in Sydney. They got married, but it didn’t work out. However, Jake never stopped loving her, and could never bring himself to sign the divorce papers. “I always thought that somehow, some way, I was going to end up back in Sydney,” Jake confesses. And so you are, Jake, only â€“ not the way you dreamed. Oh, bitter irony! Jake then further confesses that he doesn’t think he’s up to the responsibility of fatherhood. Cue philosophical musings from Mitch:
“Look, a few years back, the same thing happened to me. Different situation, but the same.”
He then goes on to describe the “awesome, incredible, frustrating, demanding” experience of fatherhood. Jake is unreasonably resistant to this line of argument, pointing out that he and Mitch are different.
“Yeah, we’re different! But we’re the same!”
Mitch then offers to accompany Jake on his trip to Australia, dismissing Jake’s protestations that he can’t ask that of him.
“I love Sydney! It’s one of the most awesome cities on the planet!”
Ah, Mitchâ€¦.if only it returned your affectionâ€¦.
And with that we cut to a surf-side pool in Sydney. A phone is ringing. A man leaps from the water to answer it, and we see that while the establishing shot showed clear blue skies, this second one shows them to be grey and overcast. Ed Wood would be proud. The man answering the phone turns out to be Kip Kane, Mitch’s old buddy. (“Kip Kane”? Oh, dearâ€¦.) Hearing that Mitch is “coming Down Under”, Kip calls his team around him and announces some big news: that’s he’s becoming a race promoter; that he’s staging a series of international competitions “like the Ryder Cup, for water sports!” He invites Mitch to put together a US team. Mitch is hesitant, so Kane pours on the added inducements:
“What if I arranged to fly you down here AIR NEW ZEALAND â€“ THE FINEST SERVICE TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC â€“ and put you up at STAR CITY â€“ SYDNEY’S BEAUTIFUL NEW CASINO â€“ at no charge to you?”
Nor to the producers, I imagine. Mitch, gathering his own team around, inquires what kind of race it will be?
“It’s a hybrid! Part eco-style, part ironman, a little triathlon. Starts in Sydney, ends in the bush!”
Yeah, that sounds probable. One of Kane’s team then has the temerity to suggest that the US team couldn’t possibly win. Realizing that these upstart Aussies need their butts kicked, Mitch agrees, but only if his entire team can come. Kane looks pained (why? Surely AIR NEW ZEALAND and STAR CITY will be footing the bill?), but also agrees to terms.
“Think of it, Mitch: you’re gunna be there at the start of my new career!”
“And â€“ the end of it! G’DAY!!”
And Mitch hangs up, laughing triumphantly. Hmmâ€¦.I guess someone should have explained to him that, unlike “aloha”, “g’day” doesn’t mean hello and goodbyeâ€¦.
Cut to the team’s AIR NEW ZEALAND flight. Jessie is questioning Jake about his situation, wondering why his wife didn’t tell him she was pregnant? Jake shakes his head.
“I guess she just stopped loving me. It was all so sudden â€“ out of the blue.”
“Nothing’s out of the blue â€“ you just didn’t see it coming.”
(I was perversely amused, by the way, to discover that the full character name of this blonde, blue-eyed beach babe is “Jessie Owens”!?).
A flight attendant â€“ who looks weirdly like Raquel Welch â€“ sees Jake’s picture of Terence, and gives it A Significant Look. Jake asks Jessie why she cares so much about his situation, and Jessie reveals that her own father walked out when she was a child; that her mother fell into a deep depression and died; and that the only time her father was heard from again was a “collect phone-call” on the day of the funeral. Classy. This is Brooke Burns’ Oscar Clipâ„¢ moment, and she goes on for about five minutes about how her father never knew how she needed him, how she really needed him, how she really, really, really needed him, until Jake finally blurts, “I get it!” Yup, no need to use a sledgehammer on ol’ Jake Barnes!
Elsewhere, Cody is flicking through his Big Picture Book Of Sydney, pointing out future Olympic sites to April. “It’s gunna be awesome!” he comments, revealing that he, too, has studied at the Foot Of Hoff. After some sad musings about his “lost chance” at the Atlanta Olympics, Cody flicks to the inevitable photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and we do a still more inevitable fade to the Real Thing, followed by â€“ a helicopter shot over the harbourâ€¦. A whole series of Bleeding Obvious picturesque shots follows, in which blue skies and grey skies are strangely mingled. Unwisely cut in is a shot of the Great Ferry Boat Race â€“ which only takes place on Australia Day. We find that Mitch and his team, plus Kip Kane, are on the Lady Northcott (which was also the ferry prominently featured in JAG! â€“ I guess it’s the standard government “rental”). Mitch climbs up on the bow and does his impression of Leonardo DiCaprio (which is illegal, but never mind. Uh â€“ climbing up on the bow, that is, notâ€¦.) He then tells Kip that “Jake needs to get to Avalon.”
“No worries. The ferry stops near SYDNEY HARBOUR SEAPLANES â€“ they can run him up.”
(Of course, if he was really in a hurry, he’d’ve got a bus from the city. You know, like normal people? [A seaplane to Avalon!! Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee!])
April asks Jessie if she’s coming with them and she responds, no, she’s going to Avalon with Jake. We then get a shot of Jake looking grave, and see that behind him stands “Raquel”, the AIR NEW ZEALAND flight attendant, who is still watching him thoughtfully.
Jake, with Jessie in tow, heads for the dock of SYDNEY HARBOUR SEAPLANES. They are told that their pilot will be there in a minute, and whaddya know!? â€“ it’s Raquel Welch! Jessie recognises her. “Hey, weren’t you the flight attendant on that AIR NEW ZEALAND flight? What a coincidence!” Ya think? “It gets better,” responds Raquel. “I don’t know your name, but you’re Jake Barnes.” At which, “Raquel” finally introduces herself. “I’m Allie Reese. I was Clare’s best friend.” Gosh, fancy!
Jake tries to make Allie talk about Terence and Clare, but she is evasive. The three climb into the plane and take off, and we get the usual aerial shots over the harbour. Just to vary the diet a little, Jessie exclaims, “That looks like an old fort!” It is, Allie confirms, “Fort Denison â€“ dates back to the convict ship.” Uh, the convict ship? (Not that I’m complaining. If that’s gunna be the extent of the dreaded “c” word, I’m grateful, believe me!)
Actually, Allie’s remark isn’t strictly true. Pinchgut Island, on which the fort is built, was used to isolate particularly troublesome convicts — you can think of it as a down-market Alcatraz, if you like — but the Fort wasn’t built until the 1850s, more than a decade after convict transportation to Sydney had stopped. Denison was actually built in apprehension of an attack by Russian warships that never eventuated; and by the time construction was complete, the fort was obsolete. (And thus was the precedent set for all Australian government projects to follow!)
Jessie then insists on labouring the point about just how much of a coincidence all this has been â€“ just in case we weren’t already having enough trouble swallowing this storyline. “First you’re on that AIR NEW ZEALAND flight â€“ then you’re a friend of Jake’s wife â€“ and now you’re flying him to meet his son! What are the odds of that happening?”
“Some of the native people,” responds Allie, “wouldn’t think it strange at all. They believe that heaven and earth will move as one to protect a child.”
Oh, I see. We’re going to try and blame all this on the aboriginal people, are we? Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer to place the blame right where it belongs â€“ with crappy American TV writers.
“So maybe I’ve been chosen to get you safely to Avalon” â€“ as opposed to those evil, untrustworthy, Route 188 bus drivers, I presume â€“ “in which case it’s providence, not coincidence.”
Jake was in a hurry, remember? That’s why he took a seaplane. This apparently escapes Allie, who continues to circle the harbour at a leisurely pace before eventually heading north. Thank God! We finally get away from those shots of the harbour, and show the viewer something a bit less familiar: the Northern Beaches.
“That’s where we’re headed,” Allie says at last. “That’s Avalon.” The city has been overcast to this point, but our first view of Avalon beach is under blazing sunshine. “What’s going on?” Jessie asks, seeing the activity below. “It’s a surf carnival,” replies Allie, “with teams from the beaches around New South Wales. If you want to see something uniquely Australian, though, this is it!”
(Actually, if you really want to see something uniquely Australian, I’d recommend a cricket ticket for Bay 13 at the MCG â€“ heh, heh, heh, hehâ€¦.)
We now get some close shots of the beach. Hey, that’s funny! When they flew over the beach, there were no boats on the water. But now there are! And now there aren’t! And now there areâ€¦!
Cut to Jake and Jessie at the beach, gaping at all the activity around them. Miraculously, although the rest of the beach is drenched in sunshine, the two Americans have found an overcast spot. Go figure. We now spend several minutes observing the numerous Surf Life-Saving teams from all around New South Wales. Since this is both thematically correct and kind of nice to look at, it is easily the most enjoyable part of the show. Eventually, however, Jake remembers that he’s not actually there to enjoy the sights, and wanders off to look for his son. After a few seconds of fruitless searching, he pauses in frustration. But wait! â€“ who’s that on the balcony behind him! And he’s even got his puppy with him. Awwwwâ€¦.
The dog barks, and Jake looks around, making eye contact with his son. He smiles tentatively, but the kid continues to look grave. He then turns and runs away. Smart kid.
Allie suddenly appears in a yellow one-piece. By another staggering coincidence â€“ sorry, act of providence â€“ she just happens to be a member of Avalon Surf Life-Saving Club. (So â€“ she just keeps the seaplane when it suits her?) As she stands there talking to her fellow team-members, we pan back to Jake, lost in thought. Just then, faintly, we hear a cry for help.
And now we get what, amazingly enough, is the single stupidest part of this entire story.
The cry for help comes from the girlfriend of a man who has been washed off the rocks at the edge of the beach. He is struggling in the high surf, and in danger of being swept onto the rocks. Astonishingly, although we are in the middle of a major surf carnival â€“ although we just spent about five minutes watching dozens of lifesaving teams go through their paces on the beach â€“ although the water was literally covered in surf-boats â€“ no-one hears the cry for help but Jake. And he grabs a handy flotation device and charges off to the rescue.
And then we discover why no-one heard the cry for help but Jake: the camera follows him as he runs along the beach, and we see that for the purposes of this plot point, the entire surf carnival has vanished from Avalon Beach!
Okay â€“ I realise that this is the traditional “estranged father proves his credentials to doubting child” scene; but for crying out loud! â€“ did they have to take this to such ridiculous extremes? [Editor Ken: Well, if you wanted proof that Liz had never seen Baywatch beforeâ€¦]
Allie, who has been up near the clubhouse chatting to her yellow-cozzied comrades, notices, not that someone is drowning, but that Jake is running down the beach. She stares after him with a puzzled expression, as if she can’t for the life of her figure out why a lifeguard would be running towards the water carrying a flotation device. Light finally dawns, and she and one of her colleagues (“Ian”) grab a rubber ducky (uh, that’s one of those inflatable rubber motor-boats) and charge into the surf. Next to come to her senses is Jessie, who runs after Jake. And then, who else should notice these goings-on but Terence? â€“ who runs down the beach, gaping in alarm as he sees his father in action (and, by the by, giving the viewer a nice clear view of his HOT TUNA beachwear).
And for the record, that is it. Throughout the dramatic rescue scene to follow, not one other person â€“ not on the beach, and not in the water â€“ takes the slightest notice of what’s happening.
Jake runs to the rocks and plunges into the water (an incredibly dangerous and, yes, stupid act which later on is vindicated, of course). Meanwhile, Allie and Ian try to get near in their boat, but are forced back by the dangerous surf. Jake manages to grab the endangered man, and supports him while they wait for the boat to draw near. Jessie has run to the victim’s girlfriend. Allie and Ian narrowly avoid getting smashed onto the rocks by an eight-foot breaker. Seeing this, Jessie shouts disgustedly, “Get in there! What are you waiting for!?” Miraculously, the huge surf suddenly drops (as miraculously as it got up, I guess â€“ it certainly wasn’t anything like that when we first saw the beach), and Jake and his rescue-ee are hauled to safety.
The watching Terence beams approvingly. Awwwwâ€¦.
The rubber ducky plunges up the beach and disgorges its load. (And yup, not one sign of the surf carnival is anywhere to be seen. Not so much “Avalon” as “Brigadoon”, really.) Ian says to Jake, “You must be a life-saver!” “Lifeguard!” snaps back Jake. Oh, excuse us. “L.A. County.” Ian then chews Jake out for his little rock-diving stunt, and Jake says belligerently, “That’s what we do, pal! We get our hands on the victim, and figure it out from there!” Which explains the high attrition rate amongst L.A. County lifeguards. Allie steps in to play peacemaker, pointing out that neither technique would have worked on its own, they had to work together. CO-OP-ER-A-TION. Just like on Sesame Street. Allie then notices that Jake scratched his shoulder blade on the rocks, and hauls him off to patch him up. Jessie joins them, and starts asking about the Surf-Lifesaving organization.
“So, is this, like, a lifeguard headquarters?”
“Yes and no,” replies Allie, and goes on to explain a bit about the Australian Surf-Lifesaving movement (although without really giving an indication of the organization’s scope, or mentioning that it was the first of its kind in the world). The patched-up Jake asks about Terence. It turns out that Clare, too, was a member of Avalon S.L.S.C. “But he can’t continue to stay here on his own,” Allie comments. You would think not. (I presume that for convenience’s sake, Terence will prove to have no other relatives in Australia.) Jake is then sent to “the rock-pool”, where Terence sits with his feet dangling in the water. Strangely enough, this public pool area is otherwise completely deserted.
Jake sits beside his son and they make awkward small-talk â€“ the weather, Terence’s dog, surfing â€“ until Terence finally asks his father where he’s been? “California,” replies Jake, choosing to interpret his son’s question literally, rather than morally. Jake then expresses his sorrow over Clare’s death, but Terence, stoic little Australian male that he is, pretty much shrugs this off with a Well, whaddya gunna do? look. Things get a bit gooey from there, with Jake promising he’ll never, never leave his son, and Terence signifying his approval by initiating a game of “underwater tag”. From the balcony of the clubhouse, Jessie and Allie beam at this turn of events. How lucky that no-one was on the beach or in the pool to block their view of it!
And now it’s time to see what the others are up to. We cut to STAR CITY CASINO. A banner on the front reads “STAR CITY welcome TEAM BAYWATCH”. In yet another of this story’s many acts of providence, we see that the event is being sponsored by AIR NEW ZEALAND and PAUL MITCHELL PROFESSIONAL SALON PRODUCTS.
“It’s great of STAR CITY to put us up, huh? Check out the view!” comments Mitch, and another of Hoff’s Disciples (Alex, I think) agrees, “Yeah this place is awesome!” We are then introduced to “John Paul DeJoria and his lovely wife, Eloise”. Mr DeJoria is in fact CEO of the company that makes PAUL MITCHELL PROFESSIONAL SALON PRODUCTS, and thus is playing himself; as indeed is his “lovely wife, Eloise”, one-time model, now company spokesperson. DeJoria makes a little speech about the “PAUL MITCHELL Sydney Challenge”, and how wonderful it is to have attracted “such respected teams” (uh, teams? uh, respected?), only to be interrupted by Kip â€“ who will in turn be interrupted by me.
I said that they don’t do the whole “local colour” thing here, and that’s largely true. Instead, they find a new twist. Rather than depicting Australians as beer-swilling, shark-watching, colloquial-spouting ockers, they depict them as cheats and bad sports, and habitually rude to boot. Which approach is ultimately the more irritating? Well, as Audrey Hepburn once said, each in its own wayâ€¦.
Anyway, Kip interrupts DeJoria’s speech with, “Before you go any further—” Mitch in turn breaks in, insisting that Kip let DeJoria finish. But DeJoria only chuckles, claiming he’s used to Kip interrupting. I guess that’s what Australians do. Kip then apologises to Mitch for that “you can’t possibly win” taunt, saying he knows that hurt the Baywatchers’ feelings. Not that he’s retracting the statement, mind you. “It’s just that you’re lifeguards! You’re not really athletes!”
Gee, I wonder where this is heading?
The Baywatchers all react with indignation, and Alex takes the bait, pointing out that Cody nearly made the Olympic team. Kip retaliates by introducing “Duggo”, who did make the Olympic team. “James Duggan?” Cody asks, dismayed. “Freestyle sprints?” Kip then also introduces “Nicki Masterton, who’s won two triathlons—” (this, with his arm around a slender blonde who looks as much like a triathlete as I do [although for opposite reasons]), “—and “Kendra Reilly” (played by Channel 7 [*cough*] personality Tania Zaetta), a kayaker who would have won the World Championship, except her paddle snapped â€“ “and she still came in third!” Mitch then toasts DeJoria â€“ and, of course, “his lovely wife, Eloise” â€“ thanking them very much for this opportunity (Hoff sounds most sincere here; I guess he enjoyed his holiday), then hoping for the sake of Kip and his team that their boasting words “aren’t too difficult to swallow”.
Cut to Jake meeting up with Terence in “his room” at the S.L.S.C. They start getting to know one another, agreeing that history was their favourite school subject. And hey! â€“ local colour! Of a sort, anyway. I don’t think I can do better than quote the following dialogue in full:
“What are you studying?”
“Yeah? The Pilgrims! Pilgrims were pretty brave, don’t you think?”
“The Pilgrims! You know â€“ Plymouth Rock, Thanksgivingâ€¦.”
“Uh, we don’t study them.”
“No, right. No, you wouldn’t. [Pause] Um â€“ gotta girlfriend? [Terence gives him a contemptuous look] Okay, how about sport? What’s your favourite sport?”
“Cricket’s your favourite sport!?”
“‘Foo-ty’? Ohhh, football! Yeah, football! I love football! I love football! Yeah! [Slight pause] What’s that smell? Something smells awesome!”
“It’s a sausage sizzle.”
“A â€“ SAUSAGE â€“ SIZZLE.”
(You know what’s really sad about this? At the tender age of eight, the kid who plays Terence [Christian Patterson] is just about the best actor in this whole silly show. Even so, he can’t quite keep a Who-wrote-this-stuff? expression off his face as he’s delivering these lines.)
Cut back to STAR CITY. James Duggan aka “Duggo” is putting the moves on April, bemoaning the fact that he’s “painfully shy”.
“If I wasn’t so shy, I’d be able to tell you how being this close to you makes my heart race!”
“Um â€“ I’m going to walk away now.”
“Did I make you angry?’
“No, just metagrobolized.”
(Yeah, okay, okay, I put that in. Like anyone in Baywatch knows a word with five syllables!)
“No, you just confused me. Either you’re the sweetest, most ingenuous guy I’ve ever met, or—”
“Or you’re not.”
Mitch thanks DeJoria once again for the awesome party, then retires, pleading jetlag. It then turns out that the competition is tomorrow â€“ so I guess us bad sports don’t want to give the Americans a chance to get over their jetlag. Mwoo-ha-ha! Seeing Mitch withdraw, Nicki (the blonde triathlete) also bids DeJoria farewell. He wishes her good luck, and with a grimace she concedes, “I’m gunna need it!” She then scurries after Mitch, as Alex looks on thoughtfully.
Mitch walks through the casino, Nicki in his wake. He opens his door with his electronic key, and as it swings shut, Nicki hurries forward and stops the lock catchingâ€¦.
At the beach â€“ at the SAUSAGE SIZZLE â€“ Allie tells Jake that if he wants to stay, “You’ll have to ‘Q’. Qualify,” she elucidates. Wow, how about that life-saver lingo, hey? Jake shakes his head, telling her that as soon as he’s got Terence packed, “We’re going home. Back to California.”
Unbeknownst to Jake, Terence is within earshot. The boy has sat through conversations about his dead mother without batting an eyelid, but this announcement brings a look of utter horror to his face. Dropping a sausage (don’t worry, that’s not a euphemism), he turns and runs awayâ€¦.
End Of Part 1
*This “staring at the pounding surf” bit reminded me of the following (from Lori’s Mishmash Humor Page)
What People Around the World Learn About Americans By Watching Baywatch
1. American men and women spend 15 percent of their days running in slow motion along the beach.
2. Americans almost drown an average of two times each hour.
3. Despite the habit of breathing water, CPR always works and no one actually dies, except from cancer.
4. People in the U.S. look thoughtfully at the ocean for an average of 15 seconds after being told anything of any importance.
5. Americans never worry about getting enough to eat, but fat people are unreliable and sometimes evil.
6. Most American women have abnormally large breasts that are worshipped via close-ups for an average of two minutes and thirteen seconds per hour.
7. When swimming in California, you are more likely to be attacked by jewel thieves or taken hostage by terrorists than you are to drown.
8. Most activity that takes place off the beach occurs in montages and lasts no longer than two minutes.
9. Although Americans, especially lifeguards, complain that they are poor, they all have expensive sports cars and luxurious homes.
10. Motorboats, unlike cars, will not talk back to David Hasselhoff.
You know, if I’ve learnt anything from doing this “Jabootu Down Under” series of reviews (other than that I really need to think before I commit myself to things), it’s that you should never underestimate the ingenuity of American TV writers. I went out on a limb when reviewing Part 1 of this epic adventure, and pronounced that the vanishing surf carnival was the stupidest part of the whole story.
Well â€“ I was wrong.
But since some of the reasons I was wrong are geographical as well as dramatic, and therefore perhaps not as apparent to my beloved readers as they are to me, I’ve appended two maps to this review, demonstrating
(i) the whereabouts of Fort Denison;
and (ii) the distance of Avalon Beach from Sydney Harbour.
Any other visual aids you might find scattered within the text are entirely the fault of Mr. Kenneth Richard Beggâ€¦.[Jabootu Ken: Sounds like an invitation to me…]
As those of you with long memories might recall (and for the benefit of those people who couldn’t be bothered re-reading Part 1, for which I don’t blame you one little bit), we left the young Terence Barnes fleeing in horror from the news that his father intends to take him to live in California. Meanwhile, the squad of professional cheats who comprise the Australian Eco-Ironman-Triathletics team were beginning to work their evil ways upon the innocent and trusting members of Team Baywatch.
Part 2 opens with kayaker Kendra Reilly putting the moves on Cody, seducing him with the following display of wit and charm:
“Ha, ha! Sounds like the hero of an American cowboy flick!”
She then slides a suggestive finger across his chest and invites him for a swim. As she walks away, Cody looks her up and down, realises that even if she is a moron, she’s built, and obediently follows.
We cut to the pool, and since if these “Down Under” specials have taught us anything, it’s that Australian women have incredible difficulty keeping their tops on, it comes as very little surprise when we see (or rather, don’t see) that Kendra has discarded hers. (It comes as still less of a surprise that this sequence contains some rather odd camera angles.) While breasts are out of the question, bikini thong-clad lower extremities are obviously okey-dokey, as we get some lingering tight shots of Kendra’s just-concealed nether regions and exposed buttocks as she slides into the water. As disco-fied didgeridoo music wafts through the air, Kendra and the slavering Cody swim away, the camera suddenly taking flight up to the ceilingâ€¦.
â€¦.while back in Mitch’s room, The Mighty Hoff lies sleeping, as the evil and scheming Nicki Masterton puts her cunning plan into effect, artfully arranging things so that it appears that certain Romantic Activities took place. After switching off his bedside alarm, and scattering roses, champagne bottles and lingerie around the room, Nicki pauses. She may be both a cheat and triathlete, but she is also A Woman; and, overcome by the brute masculine force that is The Mighty Hoff, she pauses by his bedside, and kisses him tenderly. “Another time â€“ another place,” she breathes wistfully, and vanishes into the nightâ€¦.
Early the next morning, we find Terence Barnes continuing to express his opinion of the prospect of living in California. “I won’t leave and you can’t make me” reads the note he leaves for his father, as he packs up his bag and his dog and heads for the hills. Or at least, the beach.
Alex comes up to collect Mitch who, thanks to Nicki’s machinations, has overslept. She has two cups of takeaway coffee in her hand, and as she knocks, one of the paper cups slips an alarming ninety degrees, with surprisingly little ill-effect. I guess that despite the efforts of AIR NEW ZEALAND, STAR CITY CASINO and PAUL MITCHELL PROFESSIONAL SALON PRODUCTS, the show’s budget didn’t stretch to real coffee. Or perhaps tradition demanded adherence to the long-standing soap opera convention of never actually putting anything in anyone’s cup. Mitch finally answers the knock, clad only in a sheet. At last! Something for the ladies! As calliope-like “This is funny!” music plays on the soundtrack (doo de de doo doo, de doo de doo doooâ€¦.), Alex looks past him, sees the state of the room, and blurts, “Did you even get to bed last night!? “What?” responds Mitch, who apparently made it from the bed to the door without noticing the state of his room, or that he was walking on rose petals. Alex takes a look in the direction of the bedroom, sniffs, “Oh, I see that you did!” and storms off. And then, not content with the coffee cup trick, writer Maurice Hurley pays tribute to the very roots of comedy writing by having Mitch rush out after her, shouting, “Alex, wait a minute! Nothing happened!”, so that his door can swing shut and catch his sheet. And yes! A couple of women do immediately appear in the corridor. And where Hurley found the strength of character to resist making them nuns, I’m sure I’ll never know.
After a brief shot of Terence rowing himself towards a small sailing boat, it’s time for Kip Kane’s Eco-Ironman-Triathlon!! We get a few picturesque establishing shots over the harbour (in which the replica of the Endeavour drifts past; like the ferry race footage in Part 1, this looks like cut-in stock footage from recent Australia Day celebrations), and then some close-ups of Fort Denison, the starting point of The Great Race. The fort is covered in banners for PAUL MITCHELL PROFESSIONAL SALON PRODUCTS, and there are dozens of people milling around waving flags (about half-half Australian and American, strangely enough), and grinning, and generally trying to look like watching the start of Kip Kane’s Eco-Ironman-Triathlon is the high point of their lives so far.
There are, of course, two schools of thought on this subject. Some people believe that the unemployed should be willing to take any job, no matter how seemingly degrading, rather than take a hand-out. Others think that there are certain lines that human dignity should not be asked to cross. Watch these scenes, and you may find yourself inclining to the latter opinion.
Mitch is still trying to explain himself to Alex when Nicki swans past, trilling, “Morning, Mitch! It’s a beautiful morning!” Alex sniffs, and suddenly the penny drops for ol’ Mitch. “Are you jealous!?” Of course, Alex gives him the “We’re just friends” routine â€“ oh, Alex, Alex! How can you lie to yourself like thatâ€¦? As she walks off, Kip Kane digs an elbow into the bewildered Mitch’s ribs and leers, “Hey, hey! Wild night, huh?”
The other “pairs” are also joining up again. Cody tells Kendra that “I’m glad your Mom was a believer in the, uh, buddy system!”, while Duggo and April have another metagrobolizing conversation:
“Hi! Wow! You look great in cozzies! But then, I knew you would!”
“Thanks!! Uhhhâ€¦.what are ‘cozzies’?”
What â€“ are â€“ cozziesâ€¦. Well, I’ll tell you what, April: I’ll give you a hint. That isn’t a reference to the fact that you’re in the Southern Hemisphere. Now, think real hardâ€¦.
(Tell me, oh gentle readers: are Americans really as incapable of figuring out mild slang as they’re always made out to be?)
An announcer then welcomes everyone to the “PAUL MITCHELL Sydney Challenge!” and introduces “Team Baywatch, USA!” and “Team Sydney, Australia!”
“This is a stage-race! Paddles, runs â€“ with a little surprise! Then â€“ more of the same!”
(They really didn’t think this thing through, did theyâ€¦?)
A gun is fired, and to the cheers and flag-waving of those unfortunate extras, the PAUL MITCHELL Sydney Challenge is underway! And before many seconds have passed, we see why Team Sydney, Australia, took a blanket decision to cheat: they can barely figure out how to get their paddles into the water, let alone use them in a co-ordinated fashion. It’s going to be a long raceâ€¦.
(One amusing shot shows the kayakers crossing in front of the Bridge from left to right â€“ a glance at the accompanying map of the harbour should tell you what’s wrong with that.)
We cut briefly to Avalon, and Jake discovering that the sensible Terence has run away; and then it’s back to the race. Out on the water, the tactics of the Evil Australians are paying off, as Mitch and Alex continue to squabble instead of concentrating on their paddling. Over in the next kayak, Kip congratulates Nicki on the success of their dastardly scheme. Mwoo-ha-ha! Nicki, however, feels pangs of guilt at pulling such a dirty trick on The Mighty Hoff. But finally, she and Kip agree on their next move: “Let’s hammer them, then lay on the commiserating!” Mwoo-ha-ha-ha!!
And then The Inevitable happens. As their kayak glides past some mesh fencing, April inquires innocently, “Hey, what are those fences for?” “Sharks,” replies Cody. Surprise! “Sharks!!” exclaims April. Having gotten that Contractual Obligation out of the way, the two begin to review their previous evening’s activities, with April hoping that Cody didn’t wear himself out, snigger, snigger!
(Actually, this whole sequence is funny for reasons that would be totally lost on non-locals. So far, the main thing that the two “Down Under” specials I’ve examined have in common is their insistence that women in Australia will take their clothes off at the slightest provocation; JAG even managed to work in an entire plot-thread based on this point; while both shows expended considerable energy on getting as many not-quite-nekkid people in front of their cameras as possible. At the same time, they both shied well away from the reality of the local situation. For instance, had the cameras trained on April and Cody swung to the left at this point, the Baywatch producers might have really had a ratings winner on their hands; because, unless my memory is playing tricks on me, the particular stretch of shark-netting we’re looking at is up near Lady Jane Beach aka Lady Bay â€“ a genuine nudist beach!)
Meanwhile, Kendra and Duggo are agreeing on how much they like the accents of their American rivals â€“ “Very sexy!” â€“ while Kip is still doing what he’s been doing since the start of the race: shouting “Left! Right! Left! Right!” at supposed triathlon champion, Nicki. (I think a big ‘L’ and ‘R’ on her hands might have been more useful.) These individual incidents have all taken place with the four kayaks quite some distance from each other, but suddenly, they’re all in a cluster and heading for the beach. The four pairs make it onto shore, at what appears to be Bradley’s Head, to the south of Taronga Zoo. With endless shrieks of “Go! Go! Go! Go!” they change shoes, grab a drink, and inspect the maps provided, then sprint off to the applause of still more embarrassed extras.
Back at Avalon, Allie is showing Jessie around, before we get one of the most cringe-worthy cameos in the history of television. Now, it may be that my non-Australian readers don’t know who Rene Rivkin is; if so, I envy them; and since I have no intention of giving this utter !@#$%?&$ any more publicity, I shall simply say that in the unlikely event that there was anyone out there still wondering whether the illustrious Mr Rivkin had any shame, we’ve just laid the issue to rest.
Anyway, Allie introduces RR as “the executor of Clare’s estate”, which proves to be about $12,000. Jessie helpfully observes that she wouldn’t call that much of an estate, allowing the cigar-puffing RR to respond smugly, “It will be by the time I get through investing it!” He then bestows a handshake upon Jessie (yecchh â€“ wash your hands, Brooke, quick!), and this nauseating sequence is thankfully brought to a close. Jake comes charging up to announce that Terry has run away. Unperturbed, Allie demands to know why he would have done that, and Jake confesses that he was planning on taking the boy to Los Angeles. (You know, I really am struggling awfully hard to keep myself from saying how reasonable I find Terence’s behaviourâ€¦.) Jessie, Buddha-like, opines that the note Terry left means that he wants Jake to find him. She knows this from “personal experience”. (From which we infer that her father took off without leaving a note.) “Clare would know where to find him!” Jake says bitterly. Uh, Jake? If Clare were here, none of this would be happening, you jerk! (Oh, how I wish that Clare were here!) Allie reveals that a lot of Clare’s stuff is in storage in “a garage on St Anne’s Bluff”, and suggests that they might find something there. The question of what, exactly, is left to our imaginations.
And then it’s back to the race â€“ and things begin to get really confusing! (Consult your maps, people!) The producers must have decided to use this section of their show to highlight as many different beauty spots in Sydney Harbour as possible, as the contestants now leap from landmark to landmark with a disregard for basic geography that’s truly awe-inspiring. Giving the show the benefit of the doubt, I’ll revise my initial conclusion and say that the kayakers put ashore near Camp Cove, and we’ve been watching them run around either Laings Point or South Head itself, probably the former. At any rate, having reached a vantage-point at the top of a cliff, these supposedly fierce competitors with a point to prove all stop to admire the view. It is at this moment that we get the one line in this whole show that seems (presence of the word “Awesome!” aside) to have had local input, attitudinally as well as content-wise. One of the girls remarks on how beautiful everything is, and Kip agrees.
“Most awesome harbour on the planet, and Captain Cook sailed right by it, the idiot!”
The competitors’ next destination is identified (although not by name) as North Head, and they learn that they must abseil down to waiting jet-skis. (By the way, I’m still puzzling over Kip’s initial declaration that this race was going to end “in the bush”. I guess that anything outside of the Sydney CBD qualifies as “the bush”.) They begin the climb down (with lots of tricky angles to disguise who’s actually doing the climbing), and the camera pulls back just a tad too far, revealing a line of houses not far from the cliff edge â€“ and also revealing (unless my eyes deceive me) an outrageous piece of cheating, as the start of this abseiling takes place at the cliffs near Coogee Beach, in the Eastern Suburbs, but it ends at the rocks below The Gap, on the far side of South Head. (Apart from its scenic beauty, The Gap is famous â€“ or rather, infamous [and I’m sure the local Tourist Board will just love me for telling you this!] â€“ as one of Sydney’s prime suicide spots. In fact, if you ever hear an Australian say they’re thinking of “heading for The Gap”, you might want to call for helpâ€¦.)
Kendra, Duggo, Cody and April make it safely down the cliff. Apparently forgetting that this is supposed to be a race, instead of jumping into their boats and tearing off for North Head, they just stand there staring up at the other, uh, “competitors” (I suppose I have to keep calling them that). And so they have a perfect view when, halfway down, Nicki suddenly slips and ends up dangling upside-down on the cliff-face. “Hang on!” shouts mastermind Mitch as he goes to her aid. He grabs Nicki, and untangles her â€“ and then leaves her hanging, threatening to drop her unless she confesses to her shenanigans in his room the previous night. Now, of course, if Nicki had half a brain, she’d realise that—-
(If â€“ Nicki â€“ hadâ€¦. Do you believe I just said that!?)
Anyhoo, Nicki immediately shrieks, “It was Kip’s idea!” Oh, great! We’re cheats, bad sports, and squealers! “He thought it would create dissent, get you fighting, put you off your game!” After she further confesses that “Nothing happened!”, Mitch helps her up, and the remaining four reach the rocks below safely. At that moment (and now you’ll understand why I’ve been harping on the geography of this sequence), someone pokes their head over the edge of the cliff and yells (in an unexplained American accent), “Kip! There’s a kid in trouble back at Fort Denison! No-one else can get there! We need your help!”
Now please, people, if you will, take another look at the map provided. Our heroes are on the far side of South Head, remember, while Fort Denison is over near the Bridge and Circular Quay â€“ in other words, about five minutes from the heart of the city. But no-one can get to this kid but Kip Kane!? Apparently, we have no water police. Or helicopter rescue teams. Or SES workers. Or ground police, paramedics, firemen or St John’s Ambulance officers. I guess they all ran away with those NSW Surf-Lifesaving teams â€“ we certainly haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since they vanished from Avalon Beach.
Meanwhile, at Clare’s garage (for which Allie just happens to have the key), Jake finds that his beloved sportscar has been preserved. He then picks up a box of Clare’s papers. The first thing that comes to hand is a photo of the night they met, the second, a letter written to Jake from Clare but never posted. Thoughtful of her to leave it out in the open like that.
Jake begins to reminisce about his wife, a girl with “an incredible hunger for life”. This, however, soon segues into a fit of sulky whining about her treatment of himself. Allie reproves him, and Jake retires to the balcony to read the letter, which we first hear in his voice, then in hers. (We note that this “incredible girl from Sydney” also sports an inexplicable American accent.) This scene is accompanied by soaring helicopter shots of the cliffs, then by gooey flashbacks of Jake and Clare on the beach, kissing, holding hands, watching the sun set (but not, thankfully, eating ice cream together). The letter is, I think, worth quoting in its entirety:
“Dearest Jake, This is the most difficult decision of my life, but I know it is the right one. I must let you go. I let you go because I love you. I let you go because you still need to soar. To fight the sun, and conquer the seas! I let you go with the hope that, one day, you will return. I believe with all my heart that you will. There are things which I cannot tell you, because I know it will change everything. If I reveal my secret, you will be obliged to stay. I cannot allow that. So go! Go! Chase your wildness! And when you are done â€“ come back. We will be waiting!”
“I never knew her!” chokes Jake, perhaps realising what a narrow escape he had from life with a complete freak. Or perhaps not, as he tells Jessie that he now understands what she and Mitch, in their infinite wisdom, had been trying to tell him, that he must grow up and stop thinking only of himself. Jessie and Allie beam approvingly. Jake then demonstrates his newfound maturity with a brainwave: did Clare have a boat? Allie phones the Surf-Lifesaving Club, and learns that Clare’s boat is missing. Since â€“ as we’ve just learnt â€“ there’s no such thing as a professional search-rescue service in Sydney, Allie then offers to take the sea-plane up in a search; because, you know, it’s not like her employers expect her to make money with it or anything. Jessie volunteers to go with her, and Jake heads back to Avalon. We get a brief cutaway to Terence in the boat, and see that a swell is getting up. Dum dum dummmâ€¦.
Back on the harbour, our heroes are rushing to Fort Denison on their jet-skis. Interestingly, they pass beneath the Bridge while doing so, which means they either overshot Fort Denison by about a kilometre and had to turn around and come back, or that the previous scenes took place somewhere up the Parramatta River â€“ an area not generally known for its cliffs and beaches. Eventually, the pairs do find themselves approaching the Fort. There is a small group of people near the waterline, and all signs of the “PAUL MITCHELL Sydney Challenge” have completely vanished.
The “kid in trouble” turns out to have one of the Fort’s huge blocks of carved stone pinning her leg, and she is in danger from the rising tide. A woman, presumably the kid’s mother, gives an eyebrow-raising explanation of how her daughter came to be in this situation in the first place: “She was playing under the rock, and got stuck!” (“Hey, Mum! Can I pretend I’m a sea louse?” “Sure, honey!”) The rescue team leaps in tries to move the rock, but is unable to. The tide continues to rise, and Mitch assures the trapped girl that he will “give her breath” â€“ breathe into her mouth â€“ as the water rises. Then he calls for “that rope!” â€“ eh? What rope? Well, never mind, suddenly there is a rope; and it is tied around the rock and to the back of the jet-skis. The tide has now risen about a foot in the space of ten seconds, and Mitch goes into his breathing trick as the others pull and push at the rock. And of course, they move it enough to get the kid out. Much “Whoo!”-ing and “Yeah!”-ing and punching of the air follows.
This sequence, by the bye, is shot with the city used as picturesque backdrop throughout, which does rather tend to emphasise the idiocy of the “no-one else can get there” plot point.
Visually, the following sequence is a genuine highlight of this silly show. The majority of the “Down Under” specials shot in Sydney never get away from the Harbour, and show the same old landmarks over and over and over. To give the devil his due, at least this Baywatch episode has shown its viewers something a bit different; and it does so again here, as Allie’s search allows the producers to integrate some rather lovely aerial shots of the cliffs bordering the Eastern Suburbs. Terence is finally spotted “just off Bondi Beach”. Allie calls Jake, who tells her to call Mitch and have him come to the dock to be picked up â€“ leaving us to ponder how Mitch got from Fort Denison to Avalon in the first place. (You might want to consult Map 2 for this sequence.) The two men set out in a rubber ducky (which is referred to, rather more formally, as an “IRB”). As Allie and Jessie watch, Terence manages to run his boat onto some rocks and smash his propeller. Allie radios Jake, who tells her that he and Mitch are “off South Headland”. (That’s “South Head”, Jake, but never mindâ€¦.) And then Allie does something that sent my jaw crashing to the floor: she calls for help from our helicopter rescue service.
You know, I’ve often wondered who, exactly, watches Baywatch. I guess now I know: people with attention spans of sixty seconds or less.
Anyhoo, Allie radios Westpac that they are “a mile east of Tamarama”. Meanwhile, Mitch and Jake are already closing in. Up in her plane, Allie suddenly worries, “Where’s his dog? He won’t leave without it!” And sure enough, Terence is standing at the top of the stairs down into the cabin, staring in dismay at his dog, which is curled up rather comfortably and refusing to budge. (Why doesn’t he just go down and grab it?) A wave pushes the boat against a rock, and Terence is jolted into the water, where he shrieks and thrashes in a way that seems odd for someone who spends most of his spare time swimming or surfing. Mitch plunges into the water and grabs the kid, who wails for his dog. Mitch conveys this to Jake who, yes, proves his parental credentials by rescuing not his kid, but his kid’s dog. And then (and not a moment before), the Westpac helicopter draws near. Hardly worth their time coming out, reallyâ€¦.
Fade to Waverley Cemetery (which, rather perversely, is one of the most beautiful places in Sydney, and a major sightseeing spot), with Jake and Terence visiting Clare’s grave. Jake then tells Terence that he’s changed his mind, they’re not going to California â€“ that they won’t leave Sydney unless he, Terence, wants to. But, he warns his son, he’s going to fill his head so full of California that he’ll be begging to go â€“ “the sun, the sand, the fast cars!” “Gee, Dad â€“ we don’t have any of those things in Sydney,” Terence jeers sarcastically (well, okay, maybe it was me), and the two climb into Jake’s sportscar and drive off. Hmm, let’s see: no license plates, no seatbelts. My bet? They’ll be under arrest before they get a hundred yards up Macpherson Street.
By now you might be wondering whatever happened to the “PAUL MITCHELL Sydney Challenge”, not to mention Kip Kane’s future as a race organiser. Well, relying on the attention span of their core audience, they just drop that particular plot thread. I sure hope that AIR NEW ZEALAND, STAR CITY CASINO and above all PAUL MITCHELL PROFESSIONAL SALON PRODUCTS feel they got their money’s worth out of that little venture.
We cut back to Avalon, where Alex and Jessie have donned the bright yellow Avalon S.L.S.C. cozzies. Cody bounces in, and learns that his colleagues are about to ‘Q’. “Qualify as Avalon Surf-Lifesavers!” explains Jessie excitedly. Kip tells Cody that they all worked so well together when rescuing the kid at Fort Denison, that he wanted to find a way they could continue on as a team. “So I spoke to Surf-Lifesaving Australia, and they’ve invited you to stay!” Suddenly, Mitch finds himself faced with a full-scale mutiny. No problem, says Kip â€“ and offers him the Avalon uniform as well: a skimpy pair of Speedos.
But don’t get your hopes up, girls. During the following scenes, Mitch doesn’t participate, but instead watches paternally (and fully dressed) from the clubhouse balcony as his team goes through its paces. This episode has, in fact, been rather short on the old T&A, so in the last five minutes, it makes up for its dereliction of duty with lots of slow-motion shots of the Baywatch team Q-ing. We see them running along the beach, rowing the surf-boats, doing that stupid “standing in a line to show off their cozzies” thing. We leave them standing in a line, silhouetted against the sunset, gazing out into the pounding waves.
Hmm â€“ I wonder if now would be a good time to tell them that Australian surf-lifesavers don’t get paidâ€¦?