It gave us the Hoff and Pamela Anderson, not to mention slow-motion montages of busty / muscular lifeguards charging through the surf. It brought bright orange-red swimsuits back into style and spawned a spin-off series and a T.V. movie. It featured some of the hottest celebrity pin-ups of the 1990’s – Yasmine Bleeth, Erika Eleniak, Carmen Electra, Gena Lee Nolin, Donna D’Errico and Nicole Eggert. And it was about . . . lifeguards.
That’s right – Baywatch, one of the
most-watched television programs of all time was an hour-long drama that focused on the exploits of L.A. County lifeguards keeping a close eye on the beautiful bodies that slipped in and out of the Pacific ocean or lounged carefree on the beach. This wide open premise was used to advance any number of unlikely plot devices, with one episode somehow even involving nuclear weapons. However, most of the time the writers played it safe, and drowning was the most hazardous challenge faced by the buxom, be-muscled safety crew
Baywatch became notable as a revolving door for Hollywood beauties, with a large number of characters flitting in and out of the series from year to year. Some of the more famous Baywatch alumni like Bleeth, Anderson and Traci Bingham had some of the shortest tenures on the program – in fact, only male lead David Hasselhoff and actual lifeguard Michael Newman were on the program for its entire run.
While it might seem as though a program with such an unfocused concept could conceivably run forever, eventually the powers that be decided that the world had spent enough time gawking at the scantily-clad denizens of California. Moving the show to Hawaii for its final few seasons couldn’t forestall the inevitable, and Baywatch was cancelled in the early part of the 2000’s. Baywatch had also spawned an unsuccessful spin-off called ‘Baywatch Nights’ in the middle of its production run, which was based on the bizarre premise that lifeguards were also crack ghost busters and private eyes. Not even David Hasselhoff was versatile enough to pull that one off, and the show was put to sleep in 2001.
Throw on your swimsuit, grab a buoy, and watch the Baywatch intro.