Sometimes, bad television makes for great television. Which is why we’ve chosen to allot a certain amount of space within Comics Bulletin’s tv section to the exploration of truly wonderful bad television. Why are we starting this now, you ask? Well, Danny Djeljosevic and Rafael Gaitan have chosen to watch and review every single episode of the detective-themed Baywatch spinoff Baywatch Nights. Nobody asked them to. But they insisted, and here we are…
1.03- “Silent Witness”
Raf: This theme song is so long that I think I saw some cocoons open up and butterflies fly out in the background. It was beautiful, unlike that movie Cocoon.
Danny: So, after we aged seven years during the credits, we join our regularly scheduled episode of Baywatch Nights which has… already hit its climax? Say wha? Why are Mitch and Ellerby chasing dudes around an abandoned theme park?
Raf: Yes, we jump in to find our dear friend Destiny, who is but for the grace of God NOT a stripper, hiding out under the boardwalk. Then there’s talk of a stakeout by two dudes wearing the loudest jackets I’ve seen — seriously you could plug your Discman into that and hit MEGA BASS.
Danny: Destiny, who I don’t think we’ve seen since Episode 1 — and who the first thing we see of is her cleavage — is in trouble with some goons who want her backpack for reasons as yet undisclosed. Destiny, like you said, is not a stripper, but is wearing an outfit that would make a stripper proud. If strippers had feelings and weren’t dead inside.
Raf: They have feelings… like the feeling of a boner peeking out through some sweatpants. Peace to disgustingness. Anyway, so Destiny starts telling a story about a bag switcheroo where she hid it on the pier — Mitch does some more of that thing he does (narrate poorly) and then WE’S IN A FIGHT.
Danny: Yep, there’s a fist fight in the pier’s amusement park where Destiny accidentally hits the “on” lever and shit starts spinning around all Disney Channel Original Movie like. I have nothing but questions. Why is this theme park completely empty during the day? And why do the rides still work?
Raf: Because someone on staff saw Beverly Hills Cop III and said “Seriously guys, it’s THE BEST ONE.” But Mitch and Ellerby Vs. Some Goons on a teacup ride THROUGH HELL, with the object being Destiny’s bag — they go back and forth and can’t grab it in the least tense ride sequence ever. One of the goons manages to shot-put it all the way out, which leads me to think maybe he made a poor career choice. He could have been an Olympic-caliber bank robber!
Danny: They take the fight from a Tilt-a-Whirl to a Ferris Wheel, where Mitch hurls the bag at Destiny, who’s conveniently at the top of a giant slide, which she SLIDES DOWN only to be tackled by a goon, who — oh my god oh my god — lays her on the tracks of a kiddie train ride, as if that was going to hurt anybody at all.
Raf: Yeah it’s amazing, I really wish he had taken the time to twirl his moustache even a little, but it’s nice to dream. Buchanan stops being a terrible detective long enough to save the ingrate Destiny, who tells him he’s “useless,” which is true but she shouldn’t say it.
Danny: The weirdest part is that after they narrowly dodge the completely harmless toy train, it suddenly grinds to a halt. I guess some little kid conductor pulled the brakes? Anyway, this set piece goes from excellent to MOST EXCELLENT once our heroes end up on a carousel and have a Mexican standoff while getting really dizzy.
Raf: Oh it’s rad — Mitch and an Arab (?) bank robber have a strange spinning stand-off, where the goon has a gun to Ellerby’s head, Mitch has the drop on him and then the other dude grabs Destiny. Mitch says the whole walk away thing, goon counts to three and we’re at the end of The Killing of an Ethnic Bank Robber –– complete with a strange slow-mo shot of Mitch firing the gun that makes it look like he’s the guy that shot Will in that Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode. This entire scene is so boss.
Danny: After the commercial break, we get the amazing image of Ellerby with a torn sleeve, looking like Ed Rooney at the end of Ferris Bueller’s day off. We get some quick exposition that explains why that whole escapade even happened — Destiny accidentally switched ugly bags with the robbers at the airport, so they wanted the cash back. Meanwhile, Ryan finds a deed to some nice beachfront property all folded up, keeping the refrigerator level.
Raf: Then Mitch does some more narrating about being a beach virgin or w/e and then we meet the Helpless Damsel o’ the Week — Dolores O’Rierdon Jr., a hitchhiker who has never seen the water and lo and behold as soon as she does, she witnesses MURDER MOST A-FLOUNDERED. Daniel, can you tell us what equipment this seemingly professional killer brings to the killing?
Danny: There’s a regular dude swimming, and then he gets murdered by a guy with snorkel gear. Which we’re supposed to identify as scuba gear, but this show has such a low budget that most of it is shot outside. Fairuza Balk’s understudy tries to run but she manages to get away, leaving her backpack and all her Sponge albums at the mercy of a killer before she makes her way to the regular beach and collapses.
Raf: And then we get the most amazing narration to date: “One look at her and I could tell she was drowning… and she wasn’t even in the water.” EXCELLENT OBSERVATION, BUCHANAN — WE PULP DETECTIVE NOW.
Danny: To help out the fifth member of The Craft, a Baywatch lifeguard shows up but I can’t tell if it’s somebody from Baywatch. It’d be a missed opportunity if they didn’t do any minor crossing over, since Mitch’s detective store right next to the beach where he wears a windbreaker but no shirt.
Raf: Mitch offers to do an X-ray, dabs her forehead and sends an SOS to Lifeguard Headquarters, which I really hope is a thing. We see Mac’s Dad from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia menacing out some more and we find out that the murdered man was music mogul Tom Roth, founder of Laser Records. You remember Laser? They released all those Baywatch mixtapes?
Danny: Turns out Mac’s dad is in cahoots with that dead guys’ wife. That sucks, especially for the hapless Alt-Teen who’s now witness to aqua-murder.
Raf: Meanwhile at Nights, we have the first occurrence of actual nightfall in the last two episodes! Mitch walks in mumbling about the blues and ignoring flirtatious advancements from Ryan, who rightfully calls him out on how serious he is about being a lifeguard. (Not very, but he denies it.)
Danny: I love that this show skirts the topic of the absurdity of Mitch working two jobs.
Raf: We then get Ellerby walking in in the TIGHTEST AQUA BLAZER, so tight that it summons the ghost of Lou Rawls, previously buried in the credits sequence. Lou describes Ellerby as looking “cleaner than a chitlin” and everything is beautiful again.
Danny: This scene also has a pretty lame exchange of the lyrics to the Shaft theme, which Lou sings a portion of and I can’t get enough of that. I realized that Mitch spends this entire episode wearing the same bright blue blazer over different shirts. Their wardrobe department must have burned down.
Raf: I can confirm this as Ellerby shows up in the next scene wearing his fabled Mexican restaurant shirt from episode one:
Raf: Ellerby tells Mitch he can hit up some connects to help find Tank Girl 2’s parents and then we go back to Baywatch Days, where her mother shows up hysterical — she hands Mitch a picture and a postcard, where Mitch uses his detective powers to ascertain he’s looking at a picture of a beach. Then we go on a manhunt for the elusive surfer “Mingo,” whose seduction techniques rely on the expedient nature of the United States Postal Service.
Danny: You mean JET GIRL?!?! But yeah — here’s something notable. When they introduced the mom, I though “Damn, that’s some bad casting. They don’t look alike at all!” This is notable. Anyway, Mitch is skeptical because he knew that dead guy well enough to know that he loved being in the water — his death couldn’t be accidental! As a lifeguard by day, Mitch Buchanan knows everyone who interacts with the ocean.
Raf: Lori Pettier then calls up Mingo and somehow escapes the sight of a cop car — the current Comics Bulletin theory is that she got sucked into the phone line, Matrix style. Or like Ray Palmer in Dark Knight Strikes Again if that’s your evidence bag.
Danny: Cut to Ryan and Ellerby gabbing at the pier about making peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which offers a lot of character development for two characters that are often sitting at desks while David Hasselhoff does things at the beach while wearing different kinds of jackets.
Raf: We also get a rollicking piano version of the theme song, which is neither rollicking or a song.
Danny: After the tune goes down (in volume), we find out that Ryan’s beachfront property is a trailer park facing the beach. Ha! B-plot.
Raf: Rather than focus on the case, Mitch tries to convince Ryan she’s got it made by comparing her dilapidated trailer to other, more competent detectives like the god Jim Rockford and the Surfside Sixes.
Danny: I guess that means there won’t be a crossover with The Rockford Files, even though anything’s possible in the supernatural second season.
Raf: Then comes the second instance of night! Mitch goes to see Thunderbox and the concert transitions into a montage of Mitch location scouting and somehow he ends up at Tom Roth’s wake?
Danny: Yeah, I guess he went to every building in Beach Town USA until he found a place where death was in the air? Either way, Mitch wears white to a funeral party. OOPS.
Raf: Mitch confronts his widow with something about post-mortem injuries, but then no one asks why the coroner is sharing autopsy information with an unlicensed lifeguard who cosplays Don Johnson, or should I say Don’t Johnson:
Raf: Killer Man and Dragon Lady then confer that Young Flannel needs to be taken out.
Danny: The next day, Mitch finally finds Mingo at the beach, who is walking away from the water, surfboard in hand and dry as a bone. He must be a REALLY good surfer. Either way, Mingo doesn’t know her that well but gave her some money, and Mingo is a really dumb name for anything.
Raf: His real name is John from Cincinatti, which explains why this show didn’t last either. So we then cut back to Baywatch Days, where we have a woman coming in saying she’s That One Girl from The Breeder’s actual mother– and she totes is! They even look alike! Turns out Blondie from earlier is NOT HER PARENT. OH CRAP.
Danny: I’m glad my odd casting senses were right! Cut to some boat somewhere, where one of the Hayden sisters is just… not doing much of anything except chilling in a boat with her flannel and torn leggings.
Raf: Mitch tracks her down to a boat called La Sirena, which no one pronounces correctly, and speaks some of the worst Spanish I’ve ever heard — he gets hassled and gaffled by the local balseros salados and she finally intervenes- we find out the 10,001th Maniac left because her mom’s boyfriend is abusive as FUCK, and Mitch promises that he won’t send her back to that life… but SPOILER ALERT: he probably did. Mitch ain’t helping anyone that can’t pay him in blazers.
Danny: Then the bad guys show up. Namely, Fake Mom walks up and CHEESE IT! Justine Frischmann’s cousin runs off while Mitch kicks the car door so Killer Man can’t shoot nobody. Even though, when Mitch gives chase to Fake Mom, he could still shoot him in the back. But I guess it’s like a J-RPG where you focus your attack on the right cannon, and then the left cannon, and then finally the giant head.
Raf: Extrapolating every instance out of context, we can safely assume Mitch Buchanan lived in a locked-down house because that dude FUCKING HATES DOORS. He kicks them left and right on this show. I can hear him narrating now, “There were no doors in the ocean — that’s how I knew I needed to lifeguard terribly.”
Danny: The chase leads to the set of the Live Action Donkey Kong where every action movie ends up, with ladders and barrels and shit.
Raf: Also peace to the amount of footchases we have seen on this show. We get Mitch and Killer Man racing up another tower, where rather than wait by the ladder and subdue him quickly, Mitch Spider-Mans (read: “dives across an American flag”) onto Killer Man’s back. They struggle.
Danny: Then Mitch makes short work of Killer Man by throwing him over the parapet and into the water, out of the Royal Rumble that is life. THEN ALL THE OTHER GOOD GUYS DRIVE UP just in time to be useless.
Raf: Ellerby and McBride manage to wing Fake-Mom with his car door, and as they get out Ellerby tears a sleeve. My heart of hearts hopes this is a Carol Burnett-esque reference by Gregalan Williams, perhaps to let his tailor know he’s thinking of him.
Danny: Cut to the exterior of Nights (at night) where, like at the beginning of the show, they deliver exposition to explain everything, answering every single question I have — before even entering the club! Mitch even starts the scene by going “The bottom line is…” to make it even more perfunctory. We even get a conclusion to the B-plot — Ryan’s trying to fix up her trailer, but then it falls over. Hahaha, what a stupid bitch for trying to improve the state of a domicile.
Danny: So, how great was this episode?
Raf: This was EASILY the best one we’ve seen — there was excitement, thrills, men’s fashions — all the things that scream “Baywatch, but at night!,” Troy McClure style.
Danny: It’s funny, this episode is so goddamn entertaining but it’s actually the worst written. There are two big action scenes punctuated by bad exposition and not a whole lot of logic or detective work. Which is fine by me — this perfectly displays how you don’t necessarily need to follow any rules to create entertaining product. The past couple episodes were better plotted, but not nearly as fun, despite all the rollerblading and leering going on. Sensible plotting doesn’t mean we’re having any fun.
[For those of you not present for the writing of this article, Raf has gotten distracted by Facebook, where his cousin’s profile has been hijacked by his girlfriend to air out his cheating ways. This part is not a joke.]
Raf: If any of you know what happened with my cousin, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “Nocturnal Fidelity.” That said, this drama will not be as entertaining as another ridiculously sincere episode of Baywatch Nights but at Day.
Next week: the worst episode yet and our first brush with the supernatural — all in “Deadly Vision.”
While you wait for your next dose of nocturnal jazz,
why don’t you reread past installments?
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions) and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic with Mike Prezzato, “Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men,” over at Champion City Comics and check out his Tumblr. His webcomic The Ghost Engine, with artist Eric Zawadzki, updates twice a week.
Rafael Gaitan was born in 1985, but he belongs to the ’70s. He is a big fan of onomatopoeia, being profane and spelling words right on the first try. Rafael has a hilariously infrequent blog and writes love letters to inanimate objects as well as tweets of whiskey and the mysteries of the heart. He ain’t got time to bleed.