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The USA version of Airwolf was a huge disappointment. I categorize this
with Battlestar Galatica 1980, another dismal TV sequel also featuring the
great acting talents of Barry VanDyke.
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.
This 'new' series is an insult to the people involved in the original "Airwolf" series (1984-1987). All of the 'action' sequences are rip offs from the original series, the money spent on locations, sets and special effects must have been calculated in pennies (Cents) rather than the million dollars they spent on the original series. Barry van Dyke, Michelle Scarabelli and Gerwaint Wyn Davies are no replacements for Jan Michael Vincent, Jean Bruce Scott, Ernest Borgnine and Alex Cord. This show has managed to turn a classic of the 80's into a laughing stock.
I thought I would throw my 2 cents in on this infamous incarnation of
the beloved show about a super helicopter.
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.)
I was a die hard fan of the originally Airwolf while I was in my mid-teens,
so I was definitely target audience at the time. Jan-Michael Vincent's
brooding character was the stuff of legends for myself and my friends back
then. The roar of Airwolf's engines was awe inspiring too
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have mixed feelings about this show. Part of me enjoyed it very much and
part of me didn't.
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.
For many reasons, I found the original "Airwolf" series to be one of the
best shows on television. The actions sequences were truly fantastic. Each
character developed throught the run of the series.
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.
Cheaply produced, uses old aerial footage from original series, bad acting, the story falls apart as they kill off Dom and wound String in the first episode, rescue St John with amazing ease and insult every fan of the original series. If the original cast had remained this show might even have survived the budget cuts, alas it died a slow and very painful death at the hand of a cable tv company.
I am in a state of shock whenever i see this program on tv, the first series was a classic, the second was good and the third was watchable mainly due to the budget. However the forth "DEAR GOD" what were they thinking. Killing of someone who looked like Dominic Santini, did string die or not and not even attempting to show anything to do with Alex Cord other than "He has been re-assigned" to sum god awful place and what happend to Jean Bruce Scott. The sound of Airwolf changed, the action sequences were put together from the earlier series and where did all those computers come from in the hidden base, which by the way only took one episode for Lock and Rivers to find whereas it took what four episodes for Alex Cord to even get near it. It is an insult to Mr Bellasario and everyone else involved in the original. This must of been a good idea to someone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After all those years looking for StJohn, here he is in America
already, and he just happens to be able to fly airwolf, the bird that
only 6 people in the world are supposed to be talented enough to fly.
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.
I loved the original Airwolf series, it was big and bold and a joy to
The action sequences and story lines were as good as could be expected. A
great show. However this version which I often call Canadian Airwolf due to
the number of actors in it who never seemed to have made it out of cheap
Canadian TV programmes is an utter disgrace to the original show. It's so
obvious that the action sequences have been put together by taking clips
from the original series and then having the writers make up some sort of
boring storyline around it. There simply aren't words to describe how bad
this version of Airwolf is. They should have put the original team together
to make a movie or something, not done this.
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