With this 2 part episode, so comes to an end a franchise that began in 1962 with the filming of the first Flipper movie. Only Luke Halpin as Sandy Ricks remained as a constant through the two movies and three seasons of the TV show from 1962 to 1966.
At the start of the 2 parter we see the fate of Sandy and Bud- Sandy accepted to the Coastguard Academy at New London, CT and Bud at a reform school in Boston, MA arranged by Aunt Martha. Bud is reluctant to go because no one will look after Flipper.
Sandy stumbles on a family buying then doing up the local marine supplies store. Recently widowed Fran Whiteman from Dayton, OH is trying to clean the store and Sandy offers to help. Meanwhile Flipper befriends her 12 year old son Dirk and the 9 year old daughter Liz. The kids go off and explore with Flipper and end up rowing across the lagoon in a leaky boat that they are only just able to swim to shore before it almost sinks. Because they showed interest in the Everglades, everyone assumes that is where they are and so Porter sets up a search pattern involving the Coastguard helicopter and he and Bud in the air-boat while Sandy mans a portable radio at the marine store with Mrs. Whitman.
The kids of course are not in the Everglades and failure to find them has everyone frantic. Sandy tries to reassure Mrs. Whitman that his Dad and Flipper will find her kids and he tries to persuade her to stay in FL as this incident is causing her to want to return to Ohio.
It takes some teamwork between the Whitman's dog and Flipper to finally reach Porter and Bud on the edge of the Everglades and guide them to where the kids really are. They attempt to resurrect the boat with a shirt as a plug but the boat is soon swamped and surrounded by sharks just as Porter and Bud, now in the launch, rescue Dirk and Liz before they finally sink.
The series ends with Sandy and Bud in their trademark just cut off blue jeans reminiscing about Flipper and about how Flipper's new friends will look after him.
These episodes illustrate clearly some of the reasons why NBC did not agree to a fourth season. Luke Halpin is almost 20 and the dialog with Mrs. Whitman is clearly that of a young adult - his demeanor, knowledge and body language is no longer that of a kid just finishing high school. NBC had been able to use Luke Halpin as the 15 - 18 year old Sandy Ricks despite the fact that he was 17 when the TV series first started because he was so young looking for his age. By the end of the 3rd season, that was no longer the case. With Tommy Norden the opposite happened - they had cast him as a 10 year old in Season 1 so by the end of Season 3 he was supposed to be 13. Norden was almost 15 but, unlike Halpin, by 15 he was almost full adult size and indeed by the end of the series was more solidly built than Halpin who was 5 years older than him. Series 3 plots for Bud were written for a 12/13 year old but executed by a kid who looked 16 - that wasn't working all that well and it was one of several reasons why Season 3's ratings were so poor compared to the first two Seasons.
There was talk of giving Flipper even more abilities and having the Whitman kids replacing Sandy and Bud as Flipper's best friends but nothing came of it so after two popular movies and 88 TV episodes, the story of the boy and the dolphin came to an end.
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