The Baywatch movie comes out this weekend. It’s a tongue-in-cheek comedy based on a TV show that was not exactly serious in its own right. The movie has largely been excoriated by critics, which is unsurprising. The premise is being stretched thin in the trailers, which makes it seem unlikely that it sustains itself over a full-length film. Everybody loves Dwayne Johnson, and the movie will likely have a moment or two, but it doesn’t seem primed for success. Which is a shame, because it likely means we will never get a spoof of Baywatch Nights in the theater.
Everybody remembers Baywatch, if only because of the likes of David Hasselhoff and Pam Anderson. “People in red bathing suits running along the beach in slow motion” is pretty much the descriptor folks would go with. It was a success though, and that led to the spinoff Baywatch Nights. While Baywatch was a Sun-and-fun show set at the beach, Baywatch Nights was a private eye show. No, really. Garner Ellerbee (Gregory Alan Williams), was a police officer on Baywatch, and in this show he had decided to become a P.I. Basically, it was like “Chief Wiggum, P.I.” from The Simpsons’ spinoff episode. Naturally, Hasselhoff’s Mitch Buchannon joined him.
This is not what made Baywatch Nights so remarkable. The show failed during the first season, and so in the second season they turned it into a sci-fi show. Williams’ character left, they brought in a new character who was a “paranormal expert,” and plots starting involving ghosts, time travel, and a child who is part of a Haitian voodoo cult.
The Baywatch movie tries to turn the TV show into a comedy, but Baywatch Nights already did that unintentionally. The Rock and Zac Efron can try their best, but their movie can never be as funny as Baywatch Nights was.