Format: DVDMultiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
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Baywatch, television's most-famous "jiggle series" and by some counts the most-watched show around the world, did more for slow-motion beach joggers than anything since Chariots of Fire--just replace the British Olympic athletes with young women in high-cut red swimsuits who look like Playboy models. The premise of Baywatch is straightforward: a Los Angeles-based team of lifeguards saves swimmers and occasionally fights crime, led by beefcake Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff). And those Playboy models? Erika Eleniak turned a 1989 magazine spread into a role as lifeguard Shauni McClain for two-plus seasons alongside Billy Warlock's Eddie Kramer character (the actors themselves had a brief engagement), and most of the season's action revolved around the lives and loves of Mitch, Shauni, and Eddie. (The most famous Baywatch babe, Pamela Anderson, would arrive the following season.) When they weren't saving people on the beach, they were involved in movie shoots ("Money, Honey"), gang wars ("Point of Attack"), homeless girls ("Sandcastles") and stray pets ("Thin or Die"), a serious charge against Eddie ("The Trophy"), a Gilligan's Island hallucination ("Now, Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale"), and chemical dumping ("The Big Spill"). Hasselhoff's real-life wife, Pamela Bach, appears in a recurring role as reporter Kaye Morgan, Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me, Dream On) has a small role as Mitch's ex-wife, Gayle, and Tom McTigue plays lifeguard Harvey Miller. Calling this set "season 1" is a misnomer. It's really the final 20 episodes of the second season (1991-92), which was the first season the series was in syndication after being dropped by NBC. (The first two episodes, the two parts of "Nightmare Bay," were previously released on DVD by another studio and are not included here.) In this season, Jeremy Jackson had replaced Brandon Call as Mitch's son, Hobie, and regular cast members Parker Stevenson (as Mitch's friend, Craig Pomeroy) and Shawn Weatherly (as lifeguard Jill Riley) were gone as well. However, the series pilot of the real season 1, called "Panic at Malibu Pier," is included as a bonus. Also, co-creators and executive producers Greg Bonann, Doug Schwartz, and Michael Berk discuss their favorite episodes from the second season in a 16-minute segment. Another drawback, however, is that much of the original music has been replaced, including "I'm Always Here," Jimi Jamison's theme song. --David Horiuchi