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|Index||35 reviews in total|
This show was very well written in the first three seasons, we will not
talk of the fourth season,(Airwolf II -a disgrace to the
The scenes were spectacular and the plots where well knitted in most of
episodes. I liked the attention to detail and the ability for it to be
fairly believable, despite the fictional capability of Airwolf. The
characters complimented each other and made the show very dynamic. Even
music created by S. Levay was really good.
It is very unfortunate that the series ended the way it did. Jan M.
Vincent had problems with alcohol and the politics with universal
on Bellisario's ideas. The "lady" did not go down with a blaze of glory
but rather an un-answered and open ended destruction with the final
I think that is why so many enthusiast still hang on to Airwolf, it was a
killer show that just suddenly ended, even though the ratings were so
It would be cool to have a new movie produced to give Airwolf a final
resting place in T.V. history. But that is unlikely. However, there are
kinds of fan clubs and sites that celebrate this one of a kind 80's show,
you will see that Airwolf is very much alive out on the internet. C.L.
AIRWOLF, which debuted as a heavily promoted CBS movie of the week in January 1984 (and continued as a weekly series until July 1986); was well written, produced (CBS kicked in a great deal of money for its production) and acted. It was a thinking person's action (and espionage) show, that truely emphasized personal relationships over technical gimickery. Every week Stringfellow Hawk and Dominic Santini (J.M. Vincent and Ernest Borgnine) fetched the ultra high tech AIRWOLF helicopter from its lair in the California desert to do the bidding of Archangel (Alex Cord) of the CIA to do one thing or another, though not usually until the last third of the episode which gave time to build a story amongst the players. The stories mostly centered around SoCal, but occasionally AIRWOLF took a trip overseas (curteousy of USAF tanker support) to fight a cold war type battle. Like most show's, the best episodes were in the first two seasons. However, by season three AIRWOLF started to look tired. By that time Jan Micael Vincent's alcholism problems caused serious production delays (in several 3rd season episodes Vincent is noticably intoxicated), such that CBS ultimately canceled the show; though not with out giving Vincent ample attempts to straighten himself out. The show still had legs, and was taken over by the USA Network (shot in Canada on a much tighter budget) for a fourth season with a new cast (Barry Van Dyke stepped in as Hawk's long lost older brother St John Hawk) to carry on the CIA's "chores". For the USA show's; cold war espionage was the theme of most of the stories as oposed to the CBS show's getting involved more in current events and family interests of Hawk's and Santini's. I liked the show alot, and was fortunate to have recorded many when USA rebroadcast them. It is of interest to note that Jan Michael Vincent went from a per episode salary of $250,000 (for the 58 CBS episodes 1984-1986) to now (2002) near poverty, and is living in a minimum security re-hab type jail, due to several arrests for public intoxication.
This show was one of my favourites as a child. Everyone I knew wanted to be stringfellow hawke, if only for the chance to fly Airwolf. The characters were good and interacted well (hawke being the moody one, Dom the comic relief). The only bad thing was towards the end of Airwolfs run they changed all the characters (actually killing off "Dom" (or a lookalike)) and making String disappear giving the helicopter to the now magically rescued St John Hawke! IF you want to enjoy this show then under no circumstances should you watch the pathetic end season (aka Airwolf II) and stick with the original characters!
In my opinion - the answer is definitely yes. I'm not speaking of the monstrous super-copter, or at least, not mainly of it. The character of Stringfellow Hawk, who is the main attraction of the show, is one you might find in nowadays shows. Not a shallow hero, but rather a complex and deep one. In fact, I found Hawk's character to be very similar to another, more recent one - that of FBI's legendary agent Fox Mulder. I'm sure many eyebrows must be raised right now but think of the following - Both characters are eccentric, isolated and have only one close friend whom they trust, both Hawk an Mulder are obsessed with a missing sibling and their lives are centered around that issue. Both have their own truth and won't hesitate risking their lives for that truth. Need I say more? Jan Michael Vincent was the perfect choice for Hawk's roll - Hawk and Vincent are one. JMV brought a lot of him self into his character, the two are one, practically inseparable. In on of the discussions forum I'm participating in, a question was raised regarding the possibility of making an Airwolf movie. I said that I hope no such movie will be made because I can't see anyone entering JMV shoes as Stringfellow hawk. All of the forum members agreed. All in all, I think that what made Airwolf the great show it was, is JMV and of course we must not put down Ernest Borgnines contribution. Airwolf will always remain a classic.
If you've read my review of the pilot movie for this series you'll notice I
have nothing but praise for Airwolf. It really was the best show of the
There were so many good things about this series. Alex Cord, Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine were very good in their roles (the lovely Jean-Bruce Scott joined them in season 2)and very convincing.
The plots were good. Throughout the series Airwolf went to battle against rogue dictators, wicked scientists and bad guys who wanted their hands on Airwolf.
The action scenes were always fantastic. The music accompanying the action was brilliant. There was always an action scene at the end where Airwolf went to war against the bad guys who usually had their own helicopter/plane.
It was a typical 80's show which aired when the cold war was still very hot. No-body knew who to trust. Even Michael Archangel played by Alex Cord seemed to have his own agenda. Stringfellow Hawke also had his own agenda. He was holding onto Airwolf until the government found his missing in action brother. Until that time Hawke flew Airwolf on missions to protect the free world.
A fantastic series.
Of course, Airwolf was one of the premier action shows of the 80s and was
more believable than the sugar-coated antics of Knight Rider and A-Team,
because it was set in the world of espionage and Stringfellow killed LOADS
of bad guys when he battled them in The Lady. The series started off as a
spy thriller with Airwolf duking it out with Russians, German terrorists,
war criminals, renegade US agents and hardened mercenaries. If I remember
rightly, ITV showed these episodes on Friday nights at 7pm back in November
When the 2nd season kicked in, they moved it to an afternoon Saturday slot. This is when a new co-pilot Caitlin was introduced. She wasn't bad, and they still did good intrigue episodes such as the gripping thriller Moffatt's Ghost, Fallen Angel and HX-1 (Once A Hero was a spectacular actioner), but gradually, the series became cornier, as the Airwolf team began helping out ordinary people and there were some soapy stories such as String falling for a rock singer. They also started using stock footage in some episodes, more so in the third season.
The 3rd season got off to a cracking start with the menacing Horn Of Plenty. Richard Lynch did a good job as the manipulative Van Horn and Caitlin proved she could be a bad*** as well. Other top episodes were Airwolf II, Annie Oakley and Deadly Circle, but as I said before, they started over-using stock footage from previous series and the stories were becoming slushy. Despite this, Airwolf was arguably the best action-packed thriller on the small screen during the Reagan era.
Even though most people remember Knight Rider from the fad of the 80's to have vehicles as the stars of TV shows, Airwolf was a far superior product. Donald 'Quantum Leap' Belissario created this show about a high tech attack chopper, and oversaw its best years. Even though near the end Belissario left and the stories began to degrade, the earlier episodes are classic examples of good 80's TV, with good solid performances and breathtaking aerial sequences that put the Blue Thunder TV series to shame. A series that should be brought back.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the opening music (possibly the coolest theme song in the history
of television) to the sleek dark helicopter, to the brooding pilot
movie for this series, there was everything for action fans to love!
Airwolf began with so much potential: Its brooding anti-hero
Stringfellow Hawke and his search for spiritual cleansing and atonement
after his experiences in Viet Nam; his gruff mentor, Dominic Santini,
whose checkered past sometimes caught up with him; and Archangel, real
name Michael Coldsmith Briggs III, a suave and occasionally very
dangerous spy with whom the first two form a reluctant agreement. Add
to these three different characters some female help and a dose of
high-tech espionage, and what emerged was a winner from the mind of
Donald P. Bellisario, who also brought the public Quantum Leap and
Murder, She Wrote.
Airwolf began as a mid-season replacement show and started off the series with the top secret chopper being stolen by its developer, Dr. Charles Moffett, and taken to Libya to be used as Qaddafi's personal weapon against anyone he dislikes. Stringfellow is approached by Archangel, who very nearly died when Moffett stole Airwolf, and is offered plenty of money to get Michael's pet project back. Hawke, however, has little need of money; he's already comfortable and cultured, so the offer of riches means little to him. There IS something else Hawke wants and, being a top-level spy with access to classified information, Archangel may be able to get it for him. String wants his MIA older brother St. John found. Alive or dead, he doesn't care, but he wants his brother brought home from Viet Nam. Dominic objects vigorously to Hawke having anything to do with Archangel, but he's talked into the deal. He and String retrieve the stolen Airwolf but then refuse to return it to Michael. Hawke wants to use the chopper to force the spy to help him. Archangel seems more amused than annoyed at Hawke's actions, and is amazingly unsurprised by Airwolf's theft. The three men form a shaky alliance: Archangel will try to use his resources to find St. John Hawke, and String and Dom will fly missions for the spy and his organization, the FIRM.
The implausible technology aspects aside(helicopters cannot attain supersonic speeds without destroying themselves), this was a decent show. The effects were passable, the writing generally good, and the acting was solid. Airwolf was unusual in that it had three former movie veterans in its lineup. Jan-Michael Vincent was great as gloomy Stringfellow Hawke, Ernest Borgnine was perfect for tough old Dominic Santini, and Alex Cord made a sophisticated yet vulnerable Archangel. Deborah Pratt played Michael's assistant Mirella for the first half-season. She was later replaced by Jean Bruce Scott as spunky Caitlin O'Shaughnessy, a pilot that Hawke had helped in a previous episode.
Airwolf never sank significantly in the ratings but was pulled after the second full season. Part of the problem was CBS's efforts to tone down the brooding dark quality of the show that made it so unique. The network wanted a more "family-friendly" program, which caused the episodes to veer almost schizophrenically between human interest fluff and cool espionage stuff. The biggest obstacle to the show's success was the escalating substance abuse problem of its main star, Jan-Michael Vincent, which negatively affected his work. Airwolf was a fantastically expensive series, even by 80's standards, and having its star showing up with increasing frequency unprepared for work couldn't be tolerated for long. We at first thought it was a cross between Blue Thunder and Firefox, but soon realized that it was neither. It was, and remains, a very original program that we seriously hope comes out on DVD someday---soon! It was a fun flight of imagination in the 80's and is still one today.
What a great TV show, that deserves to have been made into a movie, the flying squences are great,the cast were so right. The only stain on the series are the people that tried to remake the series on a home movie budget and replaced all the actors from the original series. This is a show that deserves to be rerun for many years to come.
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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