Saturday, June 30, 2018

Airwolf - Shadow of the Hawke


I FINALLY watched the first two episodes of Airwolf. Good grief it has been a long time coming. Granted, how many times have I passed the box set at Walmart, but just the same good ole Del Rey Network hooked me up. I waited out the fourth season to get over with (not bothering with it, nope) before the first season returned for me to excitedly peruse. The pilot was kind of hilarious to me and still by the end, expectedly tragic. Look, I knew poor (and quite lovely) Belinda Bauer wasn’t making it out of the pilot alive although I would have loved for her to be a major part in the series. This was still in the action genre “all boys club” era so that would not be the case, but while available she leaves an impression as The Firm’s agent (and eventual spy), Gabrielle. The Firm is like this alternative CIA agency that works outside of the government but with them (well, sort of). The Firm’s head, Archangel (Alex Cord), seeks the help of pilot (living in some gorgeous British Columbian locale nestled comfortably in a cabin next to a lake full of trout, with a flying eagle, snow-tipped mountains, and loyal pet dog), named Stringfellow Hawke, because their high-powered, very-weaponized, super-fast mega-chopper, Airwolf, has been commandeered (and used to destroy a desert base utilized to monitor the impressiveness of the chopper, along with crew and a US Senator The Firm was tasked to impress in favor of moneys in exchange for the results of the 70s special project the government might be interested in owning) by a mad woman-hating terrorist named Dr. Charles Henry Moffet (David Hemmings; Blow Up & Profondo rosso). Moffet has taken the Airwolf to Libya, given refuge by Gaddafi’s army, working with them to destroy opposing forces (such as sinking an American Destroyer and destroying two French mirage planes) while he is supplied sexy “skinny” dancers (spies supplied by The Firm to get the goods on where the chopper is located) to torture and leave dead in the desert. Gabrielle, sadly, will be one of them. Speaking of Bauer, she has rather good chemistry with the often stone-faced, “strong, silent type” Jan-Michael Vincent, her Gabrielle obsessively bewitched by his collection of fine art (eventually stolen by The Firm so Hawke will comply with their request to reacquire Airwolf). Before long, because The Firm leaves her behind with Hawke to (I’m guessing…) seduce him (or charm him?). It works but the two fall in love, but not without the angst caused by killing (and eating) a “pretty” trout. When Gabrielle is left for dead on the Libyan desert later, as Ernest Borgnine’s Italian helicopter “supplier” (and expert) Santini eyes her from a monitor on the Airwolf while the horrified Hawke also eventually sees her from his pilot position, Moffet is certified Grade-A dead meat. To say Hawke goes a bit overboard with the release of missiles and ammunition on Moffet, who had taken a dangerous trip out in the desert sands to torture Gabrielle, absent the protection of a Libyan military guard, is quite succinct. If I had a bit of a disappointment in the two-part introduction to Hawke and Santini (and the enigmatic Cord, with one of his glasses lens darkened perhaps to hide a missing eye) is that Hemmings is featured occasionally but not highlighted in the way a real scummy terrorist dirtbag might often be when slotted in the villain-of-the-week spot. He does use the Airwolf to do really bad things, but I figured they’d really turn him loose to just go stark raving mad, which never quite materializes. Instead we get plenty of Hawke trying to win the trust of an eagle by playing a sad ballad on his cello as the sun rises while sitting on a dock beside his lake. I will say his ballad after returning home, absent Gabrielle, as his dog wines in noticing her not being with him, got me right in the feels. Santini, talking the language with a guard at the gates of the outpost housing the Airwolf, amused me and Borgnine just has that ingratiating happy-happy/joy-joy charm that is hard to resist. And Borgnine is a nice counterbalance to the intense Vincent, the ying to his yang.

There was a scene that had me a bit anxious involving Vincent pinning down Bauer to his bed, insinuating with little subtlety that she was included with Cord to seduce him into taking the job of retrieving the Airwolf, even using whore during the dialogue. She tells him "no" and "don't" and it gets really uncomfortable, but he relents and releases her arms. Later she appeals to him, while Cord assures her that Hawke likes her or he wouldn't be so standoffish and distanced. The show establishes that he wants to find his POW (in 'Nam) brother, refusing to relinquish the Airwolf until his demands are met, and has lost all his loved ones, considering himself cursed by God.


3/5

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