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Airwolf is the most sophisticated helicopter imaginable (flies halfway round the world, outruns jet planes). Stringfellow Hawke is its pilot, essentially blackmailing a secret US agency into finding his brother (lost in Vietnam) while he flies dangerous assignments for "The Firm." Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
I think a lot of reviews look at this series and complain about recycled footage without taking into account this series was before effects computers. It's a large way humbling just how that and video changed TV and movie production in just a few short years. Years where Airwolf 'coming ahead of its time' by just three years or so, the show suffers for trying to do things with pre-computer-age film technology. I have to think they did more hours filming Airwolf cruising around the southwest than the studio suits thought they needed and budget complaints prevented more because it wasn't until season three that stuff got notable as repeated. Like things happen with the Stargate series and Cheyenne Mountain exterior for *six seasons*. It would have continued if HD tech didn't prompt needing a new set of Cheyenne exteriors shot. As with Stargate SG-1, if Airwolf had kept a driving force behind it's direction from the start we well could have seen a new round of footage. And probably with newer cameras of the day, too. But it was not to be. The budget item kept getting dropped. By season two the writing was on the wall that it just wasn't going to be needed.
Besides suffering from a divided series vision and objective where some shows were fluff and some writing actually had a message and a way to drive it home, Airwolf series was as much a victim of small-studio Hollywood limitations. As X-files suffered Vancouver-itis, Airwolf suffers from outdoor locations being a bit too southern California or blatantly the Universal back lot to pull off Russia, Germany or the snowy waste of Northern Alaska. And the show had to fake glaciers, volcanic explosions, Mexican deserts, and Russia and night flights time with refilming existing film with filters. With scale models and wind machines. People tugging on strings and pushing buttons. The old fashioned way. Like thirty years of TV before it. In time to make a schedule. So someone better get off their backs! They made that flying prop look gooood.
I think people also slam the believability factor without considering audiences back in 1984 weren't all that sophisticated. They didn't question if the Road Runner and Coyote cartoons had proper physics. Those were fun because it didn't. Consider that the Airwolf show (all TV shows) was a one-off, once a week thing to catch on TV and not see again unless you had one of them new, expensive VCRs. People saw shots once and the human mind filled in any mistakes. And people didn't have the Internet to hop onto and find out choppers don't surpass X knots of speed. The Boob Tube was the source of news and entertainment everyday. And people would simply believe it if the pretty scientist lady says it turns off the blades and acts like a jet.
Then they go on about how the Bell 222A was a dog of a ship to fly around. And when they weren't making it look like a Travel California tourism film, they made that thing look like a barn swallow dogging cats on a lawn. That's true magic! The ability to turn that worked up Bell into The Lady people still fill Internet boards discussing so seriously. I just don't think we have the same kind in the present day. At least not in this age of 'reality' TV... It got young people interested in helicopters and general aviation. And maybe just a touch of science? I almost can't call it an action show. It's a science fiction show actually set on the planet Earth. You really just have to roll with it without there being cell phones and fax machines and personal computers. The hero can't type a letter, but can redirect a sidewinder. He and his mentor actually get their hands dirty and fix aircraft and basic electronic circuitry. About the only show I can think of as its descendant is Heroes for bending the "they can't do that" suspension of disbelief like Airwolf did. And now all TV adventure shows/cop shows are done with a bit more attention to how long it takes to fly and drive places. To way more medical science, bombs, physics and laptops than people in 1984 ever cared to think about... As a result from shows like Airwolf and Nightrider. And who knows? Maybe fifteen years from now people will be slamming Heroes the same way?
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