The two premiered within days of one another, and heres how things shook out, if you dont recall: Blue Thunder lasted a mere three months; Airwolf, four entire seasons. Sometimes, it pays to be second out of the gate.
Now, Shout! Factory has resurrected the victors Bellisario-written and -directed pilot, Airwolf: The Movie. Im guessing it played theatrically in other countries, because it contains multiple utterances of the F word, some surprising violence, and a couple of sexual situations (but minus the payoff of nudity). Either way, its a real Cold War relic, even if Libyan leader Gadhafi figures heavily into its plot.
Basically, its the origin story of the super-helicopter. Oops, did they hear me say that? Because as Eugene Roches bagel-craving Congressman sternly gets corrected in the opening scene, It's not a goddamn helicopter, senator! It's Airwolf!" Roche rewords, Its an overgrown beanie with a propellor, and hes corrected once more: a Mach-1 Plus chopper that can kick butt.
In other words, America, eff yeah!
Before long, sad Vietnam vet Jan-Michael Vincent is coerced to stop playing musical instruments lakeside and retrieve the damn thing when its copter-napped to the Middle East, and become its pilot. Ernest Borgnine is along for the ride and comic relief. Belinda Bauer (Timerider) appears as someone J-M V calls a whore, then beds anyway.
I hadnt caught many Airwolf eps as a kid, so I didnt expect the telefilm to be so grim and dark. But its that in a way that is not enjoyable; it feels icky, racist, sexist and packed with the same kind of jingoism that later served Bellisario well for umpteen seasons of JAG.
The DVDs lone extra is a 15-minute retrospective with Borgnine recalling as much as he can, from how he got the gig (guesting on Magnum, P.I.) to how people at air shows just went ape-shit over the Airwolf. Rod Lott