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"Riptide" Does Not Compute (1985)

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Hacked To Pieces

Author: Jason Daniel Baker from Toronto, Canada
4 February 2016

Malevolent hacker (Nicholas Pryor) breaks in to multiple computers to ruin the life and career of obnoxious city councilman Edgar Harrison (Larry Linville). Harrison's claims that he is the victim of hacking is met with scepticism particularly when he says the police are a part of it. Flooded with bills for things he hasn't bought and charged with crimes out of state that he didn't do Harrison is thrown into a panic and becomes a violent drunk.

Murray Bozinski (Thom Bray), the most well-known computer programming expert in the area is interviewed and expresses the notion that Harrison might indeed be the target of a vicious hacker. This prompts police Lieutenant Quinlan (Jack Ging) to hire the Riptide Detective Agency to prove the theory.

Himbo private investigators Cody Allen (Perry King) and Nick Ryder (Joe Penny) are suspicious of Quinlan who has been giving them a hard time since the beginning of the series. But their partner Murray 'Boz' Bozinski is fascinated by the case and insistent that they take it. As knowledgeable as he is he may have met his match in the rogue hacker.

Back in the 1980s an image of what a hacker was had not yet firmly been established beyond Matthew Broderick's character in Wargames in 1983. The teen whiz kid hacker image was only beginning to take hold. But Nicholas Pryor's icy, middle-aged, pipe-smoking creep in a three-piece suit was still very much out of the realm of what TV audiences were shown in other characters who were computer experts back then and definitely since.

However the character's image was very much consistent with that of the criminal secret society (Sometimes called the Illuminati) depicted in films and TV of the time. We see him interacting with such a shadowy group (Similar to that depicted in the 1983 film The Star Chamber) in this teleplay. It makes for a superior episode and one which stands out within the run of the series.

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