Friday, March 24, 2017

Renegade: "Final Judgement"

We know we're getting a good episode when they use the vernacular spelling of judgment in a show about a Judge. Judge Lisa Stone (played by Sheree J. Wilson, veteran of such other TV schlock as Dallas and Walker: Texas Ranger) is a sexy, confident Judge who is being hunted by a dude named Otto (played by Brian Thompson, best known as Cronus in Charmed). Otto was cell mates with Hog, the slovenly biker dude who tried to kill Reno but put his lady love in a coma instead despite being close enough to spit on Reno.

The summary of the episode is fairly easy: Reno wants to interrogate Otto, Otto wants to kill the Judge, Reno saves the Judge's life, the Judge finds Reno working on his bike the next day and invites him to lunch, which is apparently a picnic. I stop to make note that Reno was working without his shirt, which was unnecessary until you remember Lorenzo Lamas had some really great abs. The episode was directed by our friend Ralph Hemecker, who was in charge of the pilot. This may explain why we get a lot of archival footage, ahem, memories from episode 1, even though we're only in episode 3. It just reinforces that all we really know about Reno's fiance is she had big tits and didn't mind making out in ocean water. I like breasts as much as the next heterosexual man, but it doesn't really help the backstory. Maybe she was a poet or volunteered at an animal shelter. Give her some personality. If she's just a walking pair of boobs, Reno can move on.

Which, jumping ahead, I note that Reno did make out with the Judge after saving her life a second time, but only after being arrested by the local police and being rescued by Bobby Sixkiller and his step-sister, Cheyenne. The plan is pretty ingenious, which simply involves driving a car into the jail cell Reno is being held in. Otto avoids the chance to escape so he can be brought in front of Judge Stone for arraignment, which is odd because she is a witness/victim to his attempted murder.

Otto kidnaps the Judge after murdering one of the sheriff's officers, but, as noted, Reno stops him in what is actually a pretty great action sequence with many punches, kicks, and grunts. Reno ultimately stops Otto with a bullet to the...somewhere. It's hard to tell, because people get shot all of the time in this show, but no one ever shows blood from bullet wounds. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Three episodes in, the thought of making my way through all 22 episodes of season 1 appears daunting, let alone trying to do all 110 of the entire series. However, with the promise of Reno taking his shirt off at least once per episode, I may be able to persevere.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Renegade: "Hunting Accident"

For some reason, Reno Raines ends up in a backwater town in Tennessee where the law consists of one, senior citizen sheriff. Naturally, the town is terrorized by a former high school jock who essentially gives people wedgies and takes their lunch money (or in some cases, VCRs and other trinkets). Reno befriends the Sheriff's daughter, some hillbilly sweetheart who sees the true warmth lying inside Reno's heart. Either that, or she just sees him shirtless all the time.

OK, that's not really fair. Reno wears a leather vest, so he's not topless per se.

The jock is Boone Avery, played by Peter Koch, a bit actor who basically has one guest appearance per season, which is a great way to dabble in Hollywood, so long as you have another job. Boone's reign of terror of noogies and "indian burns" (sorry, Bobby Sixkiller) is stopped by Reno's relentless kicks, making Jean-Claude Van Damme seem like, well, me. Boone retaliates by going to another law officer in another town and alerting him that Reno Raines is wanted...for murder.

Boone also says Reno is a "fairy" because he dances around and kicks a lot. I don't go in for homophobia or heterosexism or anything of that nature, but why gloss over that Reno is bare chested in a leather vest with long, flowing hair? It's the fact he kicked you in the chest that makes him gay? Sure thing, dude.

The hillbilly sweetheart from earlier is able to contact Bobby, who tricks some poor schmuck working a roadside fruit stand to give him his fingerprints. Cheyenne (Bobby's sister) then puts on a thick southern accent and calls the sheriff's office to say to disregard the other fingerprints and use these instead. OK, sure. It works, Reno is let go, and Boone kidnaps hillbilly sweetheart.

We're two episodes in and already we have two women kidnapped. Damsels in distress: not just for 1950s Disney.

Reno allows himself to get beaten up in order to find the missing girl, a plan which fails. However, thanks to a polaroid which he saw for 2 seconds but memorized every detail of, he was able to track down the location; it turns out the poor lass was stuck in a well tied to a rope. When she was pulled up by said rope, I was kind of hoping the rope was around her neck so Reno would have hanged her while trying to save her. Alas, that would have been too dark. I suppose.

Reno goes back to the bar where he kicked Boone's ass last time and proceeded to kick his ass again. Boone is then arrested by the sheriff. While in cuffs, the Sheriff's son, who may be mentally delayed or may just be a geek/nerd (it's not clear), shoots Boone while in cuffs. In a heroic gesture, Reno takes the gun, wipes the prints clean, and puts his own prints on it, saying, "they already got me for murder, they can't get me again," which ignores many aspects of the law, the least of which is that he was framed for the initial murder and could, theoretically, be found not guilty.

The sheriff is having none of this, and tells Reno he can't let him do that. Ah, a man of the law, a man of honor, a man...oh, no, the sheriff instead concocts a story and tells everyone in the town (all 17 of them, who are hanging around in the parking lot) that Boone went hunting in the woods (with a handgun, mind you) and accidentally shot himself. Open and shut case! Handshakes all around.

The episode was directed by BJ Davis, who people might know from various background roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for Medal of Honor: History of Heroes, which he directed, wrote, co-starred in, baked cookies for, etc.

IMDB lists Stephen Cannell's character (who briefly appears in this episode) as Lt. Donald "Dutch" Dickerson, even though he's called Dixon in both episodes I've watched. I promise to get to the bottom of this mystery, unless I forget or lose interest.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Renegade: "Renegade" (Pilot)

He was a cop, and good at his job. But he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the outlaw hunting outlaws...a bounty hunter...a RENEGADE.

Cue a contender for the most amazing and obnoxious TV show ear worm, which follows something like 37 minutes of Reno Raines (played by Lorenzo Lamas) and his fiance frolicking on a beach. In the cold opening, Raines also goes into a police department to share his undercover investigation into a crooked cop. The head detective is Dutch Dixon, played by show creator Stephen J. Cannell, perhaps the greatest TV show mind of all time (if for no other reason than giving us the A-Team). Dixon and Lamas have an oddly hostile and nonsensical interaction, which is only partly explained by the fact that Dixon is also crooked. He arranges for Reno to be killed. We then cut to the aforementioned credits, which gives away the fact that Reno survives but loses the woman he loves. It cuts the drama a bit, although we do get to see a slovenly biker gang member miss shooting Reno from 5 feet away, despite the fact each Lamas pectoral muscle is like a beautiful target to aim at.

Dixon frames Reno and then goes to Bobby Sixkiller (Branscombe Richmond) and his sister Cheyenne (Kathleen Kinmont), the best bounty hunter in California or whatever. For whatever reason, law enforcement is unable to track people across state lines (this is pre-9/11, so back then all you had to do was travel to the next state and you would never be apprehended). Dixon is also strangely hostile towards Bobby, which leads Bobby into this great quote:

Only in America, Lieutenant, where every day could be the Wheel of Fortune. George Foreman, a black man raised in the ghetto, eats hamburgers and wins millions. Donald Trump, a white man, raised in a mansion, eats caviar, and loses millions. Ah, what a great country we live in, Lieutenant, where everybody gets a spin at that wheel.

Haha, Donald Trump, what a fuckin' loser. Whatever happened to that bozo?

Bobby and Cheyenne travel around in their high tech Winnebago tracking Raines. Reno goes after the biker prisoner dude who killed his fiance, but captures him only long enough to be captured by Bobby. "Sad!" - Donnie T

While Reno is in custody, Bobby tries to head off racist jokes by telling a lot of weird Native American jokes, even though no one was intending to crackwise about injuns. It's fine, though, because Bobby has a beautiful mullet and a million dollar smile and the best earrings I've seen outside of QVC, so we can do whatever he wants. I'll skip past some of the plot points to just say there is a fight scene with a biker gang, Cheyenne gets kidnapped, and blah blah blah Reno saves the day and he and Bobby become best friends.

The episode was directed by Ralph Hemecker, who helmed a number of Cannell series episodes before reducing output for about a decade until coming back strong with shows such as Numb3rs, Once Upon a Time, the Flash and Blue Bloods. Truly, he would not be where he is today without honing his skills on Lorenzo Lamas' lush, flowing hair and rock hard abs.

Lamas and Kinmont were married in real life, until they weren't. Kinmont was on the show for 4 seasons until the relationship ended, and we got a new woman for season 5. However, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.