How much can Airwolf thank Knight Rider for it’s existence? Well, I would put the blame a on movie called Blue Thunder about a special police helicopter. Oddly I would credit Airwolf for Blue Thunder being made into a TV show but that’s for another discussion. Airwolf, which aired for CBS for three seasons and USA for a fourth, was about a combat helicopter used to fight the bad guys. I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear it inspired SWAT Kats, but I have not heard such a thing.
Usually in this series we look at cartoon intros because they’re usually the better ones. Live-action has to worry about introducing the actors, which in animation I’ve only seen in The Legend Of Prince Valiant. What you end up getting are clips of the show along with maybe an original shot of the actor or actress when their name comes up. Sometimes you don’t even get that. There are the rare intros that go beyond that and add interesting original footage, and Airwolf is one of those shows.
Sorry about the “briefing”. This was the best clip I could find that didn’t add stuff or try to fit widescreen, except for later seasons.
What makes this intro stand out? The clips are all action shots, mixed with the heroes in less exciting times to balance things out, like Stringfellow Hawke, the pilot, playing his bass, which he used to talk to eagles or something. They throw in quick shots of “plans” for Airwolf, which add some extra visuals to the rocking music score. This gets you ready for a show about an attack helicopter armed to the teeth about to kick commie butt!
When USA picked up the show for a fourth season after a successful rerun of the original they had a small problem. The helicopter had been sold in the intervening years to be used as a rescue chopper. (The real copter of course was never armed.) So the footage of the copter was taken from the CBS shows, since USA didn’t have CBS’s budget, at least at the time. Jan-Michael Vincent only showed up for the pilot and his brother, St. John (pronounced “Sinjin”, or that could be a nickname), took over as the pilot. (Long story for this review.) He had a bigger support team, though, and of course a new intro.
This one isn’t as good. The theme gets a bit of punch in some areas but not enough in others. There are still mostly actor credits but new computer graphics from the show replace the images of the “plans” for Airwolf. It also replaces the grid splitting into the actor to transitions Windows Movie Maker can do standard. It’s not as good as the original but it still gets you ready for the show I guess.
So I have to give 80s shows credit. Some of their live-action shows did know how to make a good intro. Just not enough of them.