|Airwolf 25 years on... (fiction)
|Airwolf vs Airwolf
Musings, Thoughts, Comments and Trivia
Someone on airwolf.org mentioned the idea of Blue Thunder in Airwolf's lair... And since I've not done any updates here for ages, here's an image of BT rising out of the rival's hideaway.
OK - not the most amazing revelation ever, but I couldn't help but notice the one and only (?) appearance of an unmodified Bell 222 in an episode of Airwolf.
There you have it - from episode "The Deadly Circle".
In response to a question about dreaming up imaginary Airwolf scenarios...
The one shot it took to take out Redwolf or HX1 was always a bit of a cop-out. Things like the missile chase in "Where Have All The Children Gone" where it takes time and skill to get out of a situation always pinned me to my seat. I wonder if anyone has worked out Hawke's missiles-fired-vs-kill rate, compared to his enemys' ?
The earliest "imaginary scenario" I probably dreamed up was the usual "Airwolf rises over my house and scares the living daylights out of the kids who were annoying me" set-up from childhood. The oddest was probably shooting up an underground city through a cave network (and no I didn't get the idea from the game). My ideal scenario would be an "all action" episode where Airwolf and some enemy are locked in a hide-and-seek for the whole forty-five minutes - not necessarily in combat the whole time, but playing some waiting/chasing game.
I've always wanted to write an alternative "Airwolf 2" story (I did loads as a kid, before and after Airwolf II actually aired!) with a bit more depth to it... Hmm... maybe some things coming together here!
A post on Airwolf.org asked what readers thought of the character of Le Hawke.
Both stories were, in themselves, OK, but I wasn't a fan of having a regular or semi-regular child character. If the 4th Season had been CBS, and remained firmly in the family vein (and with the low budget), I expect that you'd end up with deeply cheesey stories that no-one would have liked:
Next, on Airwolf: some supplier sells Dom a bunch of parts that are a bit dodgy. Le and Cait uncover a network of dodgy parts suppliers. After a threatening conversation where someone says "dam", the supplier leaps into his S-76 with big rocket tubes on the side to escape. (Use battle footage from HX1.)
The FIRM's inability to recover St.John finally pushes Hawke over the edge...
A follow-on from yesterday's "places Airwolf never went" image. Another location familiar to fans that never hosted The Lady directly.
Tet begins to wonder whether playing dead against this helicopter might be pushing his luck.
Inspired by a question on Airwolf.org about how many helicopters had landed at the cabin - and how Airwolf never did...
An Airwolf.org member wondered what concepts would have been needed to keep the show going if St.John Hawke had been found (with the original cast still in place).
I think the whole St.John thing is a plot device to unite the reluctant Stringfellow Hawke with the helicopter, and give the original show some depth. He didn't want to fly Airwolf (he'd left the FIRM before the Pilot story, and had to be persuaded back to recover it), and he only kept it to force the FIRM / Government to find his brother.
To that end, I think if St.John had been found (dead or alive), Hawke would have kept his promise and handed it back to the FIRM. Sure, he had some affection for it (not as much as Santini), but in the end, "Dom, it's just a machine." He was clearly content to have a regular job at Santini Air and play the Cello!
So, back to the original point, if St.John had been found at the end of S3, I think the show would have dropped dead, because Hawke wouldn't be flying Airwolf any more. Which is kind of what happened in S4 - sure there's some good character interplay, but the tension of the relationship between Hawke and the FIRM is lost, and it's just another "Knight Rider-esque" Secret Government Project.
I guess I'm missing the point of the question here, though, as if the producers had decided to bring the character into the show, some other "device" would have been put into play to keep Stringfellow Hawke at the controls. If the writers were true to the original story, Hawke would keep his promise - but it was a TV show after all, so they could do what they liked in the script!
Imagine if St.John was back, and Stringfellow had handed Airwolf back - what would he and Dom do every couple of weeks when they just happened to come across some bad guy terrorising some unfortunates:
SANTINI: String, I don't like this. I don't like it one bit.
Being a bit of a rivet counter (and there are a lot of them on Airwolf) I was comparing photos of the original and replica for differences and similarities, when I noticed that the original isn't 100% symmetrical.
If you look closely at the side panels there are a number of subtle differences in the details, outline and overall shape of the two panels from one side to the other. This is particularly noticeable around the small surveillance windows and the lead-in to the lower intakes, for instance: the radius of the window corners (which appears to be marginally larger on the starboard side); the amount of the forward taper to the window (again maybe a bit stronger on the starboard side); and the bottom edge below the intake, where on one side there is a sharpish corner and on the other a more gentle curve.
More subtlely, the curve of the intakes is just slightly different too (at least to my eye) - I wonder whether this is noticeable in a full-frontal view? (Oh well, another excuse to go and watch the whole of Season 1 again.)
I guess this is a result of the side panels being shaped and created by hand (just as on the replica) before being molded and cast in composite material. Interesting, nonetheless! (To me, anyway!)
Some comparitive pics from the airwolf.tv site:
(Small window detail)
(Bottom edge of panel detail)
It just shows that it must be extremely difficult to get complex shapes like this to match perfectly - full credit to Steven Stull and Co for persevering on the replica!
Inspired by the scene in Moffett's Ghost where Airwolf reaches 80,000ft (and is played by a model) here's a little fantasy image of the real helicopter trying its best to be a space ship.
Quite why it's in combat mode I'm not sure: perhaps there's an SR-71A causing some aggro.
Imagine if Universal had done a "Marvel" and had all the big heroes team up against some major enemy. It would probably have been dire, but...
Someone on airwolf.org asked how it was that sometimes Dominic had to activate the turbos in Airwolf before they could be fired, whilst other times, when Hawke was flying solo, he just triggered them from the stick.
My pet theory is that you can do pretty much anything from the front of Airwolf, but not in a very refined way.
Weapons can be activated up there (perhaps only a few options available), but it's more useful if the pilot can continue to fly and get his mate at the back to set it up for him.
Turbos can be set up for triggering from the stick, but are more effective / variable / efficient if the bloke at the back can do fine adjustments...
In other words, for Hawke to fly solo he climbs over and puts the levers into active mode when starting The Lady up, so he has turbo available when he triggers it: in those conditions he doesn't have the fine power control that Dom can give him by adjusting the power levels manually.
Anyway... just me trying to rationalise the irrational. The only time the two converse about 'more power' is when they're both there (obviously!), and when Hawke is flying solo it's just a big ON-OFF switch on the stick.
Works for me (and anyway, it's just a TV show!).
I watched Capricorn One for the first time recently. The aerial chase is superb, and certainly paved the way for future Airwolf activities.
Some interesting Airwolf observations elsewhere in the film:
Almost certain that shots of the Learjet landing and/or taking off were reused in Airwolf. Also possibly the Hughes 500s smashing into the cliff face.
One interesting observation for me was the similarity between Telly Savalas's character (the crop-duster pilot) and Dominic Santini: slightly bad tempered, kinda loud, doesn't mince words, but quite funny at the same time... Even wears a red baseball cap. I wonder if there was a slight nod to the film in Dom's character?!
Interesting subject, bringing back Airwolf (in movie form or otherwise). To me, arguments over who should play who don't really count - the main star (in my opinion, anyway) is the helicopter. I used to write updated Airwolf stories (set x years after the end of the 3rd Season, with and without the main human characters, as the time frame dictated) and would still like to sit down one day and do a 2006 version...
Anyway, my opinion would be that the only way to bring Airwolf back would be for it to be resurrected in 200X - the original design helicopter, updated technologically, with a new cast. After all, Hawke is now 56, Santini 132, Archangel long retired - they all still exist and are part of the helicopter's history but times and people move on. It doesn't have to be "government regains control and everything is a bit formulaic" - who's to say what's been going on with the chopper in the last 20 years? The new cast would have their own stories, problems and foibles; if they have enough depth and the helicopter still howls when it comes round the cliff-face, it's still Airwolf.
I respect that many fans view Hawke+Santini+Airwolf as the irreplaceable trinity, and that's fine, but (as a bloke) I never had a crush on JMV and can easily imagine someone else (with suitable mystery and charisma) taking the helm.
Or maybe, 20 years on, the chopper is an exhibit in some museum dedicated to rotary winged aircraft...
Hmm. I think I'll have to put some thoughts down on disk... "Airwolf - Resurrection". (See "Legacy" for how these thoughts panned out.)
Prior to the "HX1" flashbacks (where St.John was played by Chris Connelly), we only saw St.John in photographs with JMV and EB. Who stood in as St.John in these shots? I always supposed, as a kid, that maybe JMV had an older brother who agreed to pose for the photos...
From a thread on how bad (or good) folks thought Season 4 was...
I've only seen a couple of Season 4 episodes ("The Stavograd Incident")...
<tongueincheek type="firm" mode="engage">
Seasons 1-3 were, of course, documentary coverage of real events; whereas season 4 was someone making a TV show about it to capitalise on the subject's popularity. That's why new characters had to be created (Messrs Hawke, Santini, Coldsmith Briggs and Ms o'Shaunnessey refused to allow their personalities to be portrayed in the show - later Mr Hawke relented for a "hand-over" story). Use of declassified aerial footage and the R-C Airwolf in the show was necessary as, naturally, the FIRM wouldn't allow a TV crew to have access to a high-tech chopper for filming - it was too busy elsewhere doing real work ...
Well, that's one way of rationalising it!
Speculation as to what Airwolf would look like today: this is a Bell 430 with Airwolf's bodyside kit added.
In "Mind of the Machine", the flying Airwolf was brought into the studio to face off with the interior set mock-up in the first season. At this stage, the mock-up was fuselage only (no tail section), hence had a big black "simulator" box hiding the rear of it in the show.
From the second season the mock-up was refitted with a tail section, rotors, landing gear and so on (as seen in "Moffett's Ghost", etc), thus looking nearly identical to the flying Airwolf. So my question is did these two complete machines ever meet up? I suspect it's unlikely, given that the set would be at the studios all the time, and the real helicopter at Jetcopters.
Nevertheless, two full-size Airwolves (even if only on the ground) would have lent themselves to some intriguing possibilities for plotlines... Perhaps, with some clever editing for the dogfight, "Airwolf II" could have been an entirely different story!
The picture above shows the flying Airwolf (left) and the full-size mockup (right) as seen from Season 2 onwards. There are subtle differences between the two, including the slightly "droopy" nose profile of the mockup, the paint dividing line, and the rotor hub, amongst others.
What would Airwolf look like?
The producers wouldn't need to base the design around anything that actually existed, so long as there was a mock-up for the crew to sit in on the ground. In the air the CGI would take over - Airwolf could have rotors that really did disengage and retract... It would be a shame, because for me part of the attraction of Airwolf is knowing that they really did have to fly this huge helicopter inches off the earth, in some castle courtyard or down some valley.
Confession time... I used to watch Blue Thunder when I was a wee lad, and really liked the insectoid appearance. So much so that one day my dad called me through to see a "helicopter show" on TV - I took one look at the sleek, black thing and thought "Naaa."
Ooops. 'Twas the Pilot episode for Airwolf. Didn't take long to see the error of my ways, though!
Blue Thunder trivia: UK readers listen to the closing theme music of the Blue Thunder movie, then listen to the Crimewatch UK title music... Interestingly the Crimewatch theme was chosen from a random stock track in the BBC music archives, called "helicopters". Separated at birth? I think we should be told.
A question posed on Airwolf.org
Interesting question. You could ask the same of many characters that appear in a series-format show like Airwolf. I think that Moffet(t) was originally just "the bad guy for this episode". He was also the chance to get another reasonably well-known name into the show's credits for that all-important opener, but I suspect that the producers and writers didn't consider keeping the character beyond there (other than as a name that would crop up from time to time, and send shivers down everyone's spines).
The fact that Hemmings played Moffet so well has endeared the character to fans (imagine he'd just been a sneering, evil "A-Team"-style bad guy, narrowing his eyes and growling menacingly all the time), and perhaps if the producers had known what an impact the character would make, things might have been different...
A poster asked what readers would have done had they been in charge of a 4th Season of Airwolf had it continued with original cast and crew...
My take on an "original cast" Season 4 would see a return to more of a Season-One-esque level of international espionage, surveillance and intrigue. I remember sitting and watching the first season when it was first aired in the UK: the moment when Airwolf hovers outside Kruger's humble abode and Archangel appears with Kruger on the balcony ("Fight Like A Dove") was the kind of moment that, for me, summed up Airwolf. "Shades of grey," I think Archangel said at one point.
As a schoolkid I used to write Airwolf scripts for fun, usually putting the action somewhere local to me in the UK, and usually involving some kids roughly my age and description... I remember writing something where Airwolf was pitted against another super-helicopter (which I called Skyfox - how imaginative...), that I'd based on the Sikorsky S-76. The next season, HX1 appeared... (How smug was I ?!)
Anyway, I digress. My main aim of Season 4 would be to make sure the Archangel/Marella team played a strong role once again. I'm afraid I was never a fan of the Le Hawke stories, and would probably contrive some way of sidestepping the issue, with maybe an occasional re-appearance for a mid-season "lighter" episode. Caitlin would stick around, I think, but would be more in keeping with her heavier roles ("Condemned", "Fallen Angel"). An interesting twist here would be to have a developing tension between Cait and Marella, through a mutual distrust.
Interesting posts made earlier about alternative histories, keeping Moffett alive, and so on. I had a couple of similar ideas in my later teens: in one, Moffett (somehow) survived being hit by two-hundred rockets at the end of the pilot (OK - I hadn't seen the pilot at that point, so I was guessing) and went off to build another Airwolf in some tropical jungle... In another story I had the prototype of Airwolf, built by Moffett in secret in his native UK and flown by his late teenage son... (See "Legacy" for a subsequent reworking of this story.)
My last foray into the Airwolf world was about 10 years ago, and I suppose it qualifies for a Season 4 storyline. I just had the idea that it would be interesting if Airwolf actually crashed somewhere hostile. The script was based around Airwolf being brought down in a remote area of the USSR, whilst Hawke was on a mission to pick up a high-ranking defector, and the consequent efforts by the FIRM to recover the machine, pilot and defector. The script called for a lot of Mi-24 Hind gunships, and sadly I think it would probably have been beyond the budget of an average episode. Interestingly, with hindsight, the story did not include Caitlin - something I didn't notice at the time. (See "Down" for this story.)
Some observations from the show. I class "bloopers" as things like dialogue or action that contradicts itself, or bits of the set misbehaving, etc, rather than "compromises" such as using US-built helicopters to represent Soviet ones. Only when I'm bored...
As far as we know, Archangel can't fly helicopters - at least, we don't ever see him doing so throughout the three years of his tenure on the show. So, after he arrives with Gabrielle at Hawke's cabin (she is supposedly the pilot), and leaves her there to brief Hawke, who flies the 206LR away?
Archangel, Gabrielle and the FIRM know nothing about Hawke's recruiting of Santini to help recover Airwolf from Libya. "I don't want the FIRM to know you're backing me," says Hawke at one point. In the dressing room of the dance club, Gabrielle tells Hawke that she has arranged for "the two of you to get in". Presumably this should have been "the two of us", as moments later she says "I'll meet you there by two," - following which Hawke tells her she's leaving, she protests "we're in this together", etc.
Curiosities: The Pilot was also remade into Airwolf - The Movie, for video release with an 18 Certificate. In order to comply various bits of dialogue were changed, with the "F" word added in a few spots, with a few others. One interesting change, which perhaps reflects the changing attitude to language over the intervening period, is the Gabrielle-Hawke exchange: "Damn you," "Too late, God already has," of the TV version to "God damn you," "Too late, he already has." A number of scenes were ommitted, most curiously one of the scenes with Moffet and Gabrielle in the desert - possibly the most graphic - which was in the TV version but not in the Movie!
Airwolf and its principal characters are © Universal Studios / Belisarius Productions. This site is a non-commercial fan site and is not intended to infringe any commercial copyrights, trademarks, etc.
Photos on this website are all modified from other sources, and I'm afraid that in most cases I've lost track of their origins. I modified them originally for my personal use, but have reproduced them here for the benefit of viewers - if you are the copyright owner I hope you'll accept my apologies for my not having been in contact: please feel free to contact me and I'll add a proper acknowledgement / add a link / remove the image as you prefer.
Website © 2006-2011