Every Hero Is Cooler If He Wears Shades

To answer my question about VEI’s Canada-only DVD release of “Stingray”: an Amazon review says that some pieces of music have been changed, but much of the music appears to be intact. I heard “Low Rider” by War in the pilot and “Can You Hear Me” by Mike and the Mechanics in a scene from the second episode. Also the DVD soundtrack is mixed in stereo; NBC in the mid-’80s was the first network to broadcast shows with stereo sound  (remember “In Stereo Where Available?”).

The post-Miami Vice look of the show is a blast: when the villain makes his entrance in the pilot, to a restatement of the theme song, it’s just three minutes of him and his car photographed from different angles and edited together in a head-pounding early MTV way, and then you get two more scenes of cars driving along to the accompaniment of two different pop songs; it’s like ten minutes into the show before anything happens, and yet somehow it works, because this was a period when TV shows were getting by purely on style and music video sequences. They’ve gotten even more stylish since then, but in the Miami Vice era, the first era when TV dramas really did look stylish and hip in terms of the way they were shot, producers were so carried away that they didn’t even care if the episodes made sense. Today the style is actually in service of the story; in the ’80s it was there for its own sake and you just have to go with it. (The pilot, by the way, is the two-part version which was split up — and slightly shortened — for a repeat on NBC. Apparently the copyright owners have lost the original two-hour pilot.) At the price, a good purchase for anyone who loves ’80s shows about maverick loners (and who does not?).

One thing I forgot about this show is the cool thing it did with the closing credits: after the first couple of episodes, someone (maybe showrunner Larry Hertzog, who went on to create the show Nowhere Man which was a bit like this one but not as good) got the idea to replace the usual stills/clips from the episode itself with behind-the-scenes stills of the episode actually being shot in Vancouver. Here’s an example. And the fact that one crew member is wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt may be what jinxed this show.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.