User ReviewsAdd a Review
Is it as bad everyone says? Sadly, yes... Here's the basic back story in case you didn't know. CBS canceled the original Jan-Michael Vincent starring version after it's 3rd Season. This was due to a combination of things, namely Vincent's severe drinking problems, the incredible expense of producing each episode(roughly a million, in 1986 dollars) and sinking ratings. This left the producers and other people with a vested interest in the show with a problem though. They didn't have enough episodes to sell the show into syndication. So the producers sold the rights to the USA network, who then in turn slashed the budget to a fraction of what it was and moved the production up to Canada to further save money. That's right, this season exists solely so they could produce enough episodes for syndication. That's a bad omen right from the start.
Each episode was now produced for about 150k, a far cry from that million on the original CBS series. This in a nutshell, is what made this the abomination that it is. Because of the pea sized budget, they could no longer afford to keep and operate the flyable Bell 222(aka Airwolf!). By the time this season was in production, she was already stripped of her modifications and sold to a German hospital, where she operated as an emergency transport until she sadly crashed and was destroyed in a thunder storm. This means all aerial footage of Airwolf seen here is recycled from the CBS show, although some of it was never actually used on the CBS show. That creates a nearly impossible obstacle to get past. How do you produce a show about a super chopper and not even have said chopper? Very poorly I'm afraid... They did however have the other Bell 222; the stage mock-up version to shoot the actors in. This Bell 222 however could not fly(it could only spin it's rotors very slowly), but being as it was ALL they had, they shoot the hell out of it. The NO-budget and the move to Canada also meant that NONE of the original cast could be retained. They were able to acquire the services of Jan-Michael Vincent(in a very uninspired performance) for the pilot episode. That was it. A bunch of a B-level Canadian actors take their places, but to be fair, they do an 'ok' job considering what they have to work with. You can't really blame them for this disaster. But without the characters so near and dear to us(Hawk, Dom, Archangel), it doesn't feel like the same show. You can't get rid of characters that had been with us for 3 years and expect fans of the show to happily accept and embrace the new characters.
Oh, and the lack of money also meant that the show was now shot on video instead of 35MM film. And trust me, you can tell! It's extremely cheap looking, like some crap cable show you might see on at 1 in the morning. In short, all of the production values of the CBS show are HISTORY. What you have here is nothing but a low budget Canadian cable show that happens to feature footage of Airwolf from the CBS show.
I won't even go into the countless continuity problems. The writers simply didn't have a clue. I question whether any of them had even watched the previous seasons...
Overall, this is an embarrassment and is best avoided. I recommend you pick up the first 3 seasons on DVD if you haven't yet and pretend this garbage doesn't even exist. This season is not available on DVD and likely never will be, but if you really want to watch it, it's readily available to watch online now. Both Hulu and Netflix have the entire season available to stream.
But like I said, just stick with the first 3 seasons and treasure those forever.
(Update: Amazingly, this season was in fact released on DVD. So there you go. Now you have Netflix and an official DVD release if you so desire to see this junk.)
The characters from the original were killed off or written out to lighten the financial burden of reviving the show. Aerial footage was for the most part recycled from the original show, which, like Battlestar Galactica, recycled plenty of its own footage.
To further decrease costs, it appears that they shot on videotape rather than film resulting in a lower production quality look.
Airwolf went from sci-fi drama to Saturday morning cartoon. Keep this one in the vault please.
Then came the new Airwolf. Pure garbage. How finicky do you think a 15-16 year is about that sort of thing? We even thought David Hasselhoff was some sort of master thespian in Knight Rider for goodness sake. Some gratuitous helicopter scenes and some shooting would've probably at least kept our interest, maybe a plot or two that actually made us care about the characters even though we all knew that the show had jumped the shark... But no, they had to turn it into a trashy, soap-opera style drama with a bit of Airwolf thrown into the mix. Rubbish, I did NOT watch it more than a couple of times.
Let me first talk about what I did like. The plots were very good at times and it was great just seeing Airwolf on TV again. It also helped that the four stars were all very good actors. There were some brilliant shows during it's run.
(SPOILERS AHEAD)However, there was a lot that spoilt it for me. This was a new Airwolf series that wasn't going to feature the original cast so the writers had to find out a way to get rid of the original cast. They did it in the most unbelievable way.
Firstly,Jan-Michael Vincent did make an appearance in the first episode. He showed up at The Firm's HQ to find out Michael Archangel had been reassigned. I didn't like that. Fans of the original series will agree that the character of Archangel would surely have made an announcement to Stringfellow Hawke if he was going to be reassigned.
Secondly, Dominic Santini was killed off. Ernest Borgnine was not in this episode;they used a lookalike instead. The character of Santini was killed off by an explosion which I thought was pretty cheap. Also, there was no sign of Caitlan from the original series.
Thirdly, Major Mike Rivers played by Geraint Wyn Davies was assigned to find Airwolf's hiding place and he did it with great ease. This was quite insulting as throughout the original series the government tried everything to find Airwolf and with no luck wheras Major Rivers found it within days.
Setting up the new Airwolf series was done in an unbelievable way. Stringfellow Hawke was killed off (I think)and the four new stars took over the show. They used Airwolf's old hiding place which had mysteriously gained a truckload of new equipment and technology. Then they went off to fight the bad guys. Throughout the series there were times when the old Airwolf tune was not used during action scenes. In a nutshell this series somewhat ruined the spirit of the original series.
It wasn't totally bad. There were good episodes (even the ones which used stock footage)such as The Stavograd Incident and they can probably be enjoyed by most fans. I guess what ruined it for me was the way they set up the new show. If it would have had the same budget as the original and a believable storyline in the first episode I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
It wasn't too bad though. Maybe I am being too hard but I would recommend the original series instead.
Season four was a true waste of time. The characters were very weak and shallow, the overall tone of the show diminished. Originally, Only three characters were skilled enough to fly Airwolf. In the new series, it seemed that everyone on the show could fly airwolf, with equal skill.
On the original show, the characters, while flying Airwolf, always wore their helmets. The new version often featured bare-headed, wearing headsets, with no helmets.
The fourth season of Airwolf demonstrated the classic situation of a series being around one year too long. A good effort, but a very poor result.
With all the original cast gone, only an ill looking Jan Micheal Vincent repeated his role in the pilot, only to die off, Dominic Santini was also killed, but he had to suffer the indignity of them not even hiring Ernest Borgnine for the event, instead some fat guy gets killed from behind.
Its a terrible insulting way to get rid of our heroes after all they have been through.
Then of course we have the main problem of the show, not the dreary washed out rainy Canadian backgrounds, that would look so much better in ten years time in the x files and SG1, not even the Barry Van Dyke BSG80 kiss of death, no I am talking about Airwolf itself.
Almost never shown on screen, when it was, usually in the last 5 minutes, it has a terrible generic Huey chopper blade sound effect over it, gone is the futuristic sounds the bird used to make.
I mean why didn't they just use a mike and record some sounds from the bird itself, it couldn't have been that hard, and it would still have sounded better than using stock sound effects from entirely the wrong type of chopper.
For years I didn't know this show existed as it was never shown in the UK when what I knew as Airwolf ended, then when I read about it in Starburst I wanted to see it, then only a few months later my wish was granted when Yorkshire out of the blue started showing the episodes, and now I wish I hadn't seen them.
It was the same year Kirk died in Generations, the same year Devon Miles was killed in KR2000, and then they go kill the airwolf crew too, and it seemed I wasn't allowed any heroes any more.
But when 'Airwolf II' came out, I found other things to do instead. A friend of mine & I don't even soil the 'Airwolf' name by putting it with this show. We call it 'that show'.
Poor stories, worse special effects, and a hopeless ending to Dom & String. Caitlin? Well, she just disappeared.
Sometimes a show really is rescued by changing networks. Sadly, Airwolf wasn't one of them.
I echo other fans that there should have been better closures for Archangel, Caitlin and Dom. At least for Archangel and Dom we got something (lame ones at that), but Caitlin just disappeared w/o any real explanation.
Poor Barry Van Dyke. He has the distinction of being a part of two substandard sequel series to two popular TV shows (Galactica 1980 being the other). Sorry, but he didn't make a convincing Saint John. (It would have been nice if Christopher Connelly reprised the role for continuity's sake, but he was probably already dying of cancer which he succumbed to in 1988.)
However, the one thing I will give credit to the producers of season 4 is, they brought Airwolf back to what she made for and that's fight foreign enemies.
To the original CBS series' discredit, during the latter seasons, they began to have Airwolf solve homegrown problems and some of them were best done without the helicopter. So much for keeping a top secret state-of-the-art flying machine secret! While the results of Season 4 left little to desire, at least Airwolf was a combat machine again fighting the real world enemies of the time and not baddies like greedy oil barons.
It was nice to see JMV to "pass the torch," but too bad the torch didn't burn as bright as before.
It was filmed in Canada because filming there is much cheaper then in the USA. That's where the new mini-series "Battlestar Galactica" was filmed as well as "Sliders" when sci-fi took it over.
The special effects were really bad in the revamp '87' version. They rarely wore the Airwolf pilot helmets. Instead they wore headsets with mics.
The interior of Airwolf looked bad due to the lighting they were using... You would generally see the helicopter's upper blade turning as a shadow inside the cockpit.
I prefer the original 84-86 series to the one year on USA Network.
Stringfellow Hawk. It wasn't too clear if he did die or not? His brother SinJin(SP?) took him from the hospital and supposedly flew him back to the cabin.
And I am sure the reason they found Airwolf so quickly in the first show was String told his brother where it was, and the only way I am sure they were allowed to find it was if SinJin made a deal to tell where it was if they kept using Airwolf as a device to fight the evil in the world out there.
I like the first show(CBS 84-86) because the effects were better. It didn't look like a cheap show. When missles were fired it was a missle, not a cheap red video effect streaking out of the helicopter. I know it had that cheap quality because of the lack of a good budget that would have allowed them to do better.
I liked Caitlin, Dom, and String, and Michael. They had humor. I just wish they would show Caitlin where Airwolf was instead of always having to meet up with her or even blind fold her.
I have several favorite episodes of Airwolf. I think the one that stands out in my mind the most was "RedWolf" when they created a newer Airwolf that had lasers, But it wasn't that tough seeing as the original Airwolf blew it out of the sky so quickly.
Watch the original series from 1984-1987!!
2] The fourth season is indeed low budget compared to the first three seasons and all the footage of the Airwolf super-helicopter used in the fourth season is borrowed from the first three seasons.
Yet, Airwolf, Season 4, is not as bad as reviewers would have you believe. I started watching Season 4 recently with low expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the little-known Canadian actors who play the other lead roles in this series. Even the much-maligned reuse of helicopter footage from the previous seasons has been fairly well done by this show's editing department, considering that video-editing software did not exist in the 1980s.
A few episodes in Season 4 are actually fairly good. I suspect that if one watched Season 4 first and the first 3 Seasons later, the former would not seem so bad at all. Barry van Dyke's St.John (Sinjin) Hawke is actually more likable than Jan Michael Vincent's brooding performance as Stringfellow Hawke. Of course, one would expect that St.John, after his many years of captivity and ill-treatment in Vietnam, would be the one who is moody and morose. Not his younger brother Stringfellow who managed to avoid capture.
Another point that other reviewers have missed is that the tall, square-jawed Barry van Dyke seems more believable as an action hero than the short, slightly-built Jan Michael Vincent who somehow manages to beat up the bad guys during three seasons of this show. Yet, it is true that both actors give rather middling performances in their respective roles.