Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nostalgia Theater: Renegade's Long, Dull Ride

As we've talked about quite a few times in this space, the 1990s was pretty much a dumping ground for terrible, terrible shows that managed to gain oxygen thanks to a particularly fertile environment for first-run syndicated fare. Shows that would otherwise have died quick deaths on network television.

In that sense, though the network model may be antiquated and out-of-step with today's viewing habits, especially given the quality of shows currently airing on cable, etc., there's something to be said for how our network overlords sometimes performed a valuable service by acting as gatekeepers for questionable content back in the day.

When discussing this peculiar phenomenon, I can't think of a better exemplar than Renegade, which began airing on local stations in fall of '92, and lasted an inexplicable five seasons and 110 episodes despite its unerring ability to be staggeringly mediocre and completely forgettable. The show starred '80s heartthrob Lorenzo Lamas (of Falcon Crest fame) as cop-turned-bounty hunter Reno Raines, who was...well, here, just watch the intro and see if that doesn't answer any questions:

(That narration is by the late, great Don LaFountaine, unerring master of making disposable crap sound like Very Important Stuff.)

Renegade was created by '80s TV maven Stephen J. Cannell, and like previous Cannell joints like Hunter21 Jump Street and even Wiseguy (which I still love, by the way) it has all the earmarks of some of the network hour-longs from that decade. Vapid characters, bad acting, paint-by-numbers writing, and plenty of egregious eye candy (mostly in the form of a shirtless or short-sleeved Lamas riding his Harley). Nonetheless -- and really, for entirely inexplicable reasons -- this thing is remembered fondly by a whole lot of folks. A lot of stupid, stupid folks.

Every episode, Reno (along with his Native American ally Bobby Sixkiller, played by Branscombe Richmond), would tackle a new bounty, while keeping one step ahead of crooked cop "Dutch" Dixon (played by Cannell himself). That's it. That's all of it. Amazingly, it was enough of a breakout during its first season that it hung around through changes in distributors and the entire syndication market. Renegade rode into the sunset for the last time in spring of '97 -- and not a moment too soon, if you ask me. If you want, you can check out the entire pilot ep below. Or not. Y'know, whatever.

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Short Shelf Life of Planet of the Apes: The Series

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: I Am the Greatest -- The Muhammad Ali Cartoon Show?

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Holy Flashback, Batman!

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