Syndicated TV, 1996
Over the past year or so, I’ve been watching every episode of Baywatch. While that may sound like a dumb idea, the payoff was to be an induction of the Shawn Michaels episode. I figured that watching all the previous episodes would give me a better understanding of the series and its characters, which is an even dumber idea.
The episode in question, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, is the seventh episode of season seven.
A few weeks ago, I watched the sixth episode of season seven, “Beach Blast”, an absurd episode even by Baywatch standards. Here’s a synopsis: Some Special Olympians are on the beach soliciting donations. One of them has a portable TV and is watching MTV (a cable station). Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) gets the idea to call up Jenny McCarthy on the set, and five minutes later, he’s gotten the Baywatch lifeguards booked on MTV for a whole week to raise money for the Special Olympics. In the next scene, the cast is battling the MTV VJs in athletic competitions, which take up most of the episode.
I swore this had to be some kind of extended dream sequence, but it wasn’t. The episode was clearly thrown together in a hurry, bundled with a totally unrelated roommate subplot featuring one of the characters who had supposedly been on MTV all week.
I wanted a second opinion, just to prove it wasn’t just me who thought this episode was bonkers, so I watched Allison Pregler’s review on her long-running Youtube series, “Baywatching”. But if this was the episode before HBK, and she reviews all the episodes in order, then that would mean…
Yes, to my horror, not only was there already a “Baywatching” episode of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, but it had been posted just days earlier. I had been scooped.
They say you snooze, you lose. Well, I snost, and I lost.
That meant I had to turn to Plan B, which was…
…to induct the Shawn Michaels episode anyway.
This isn’t the first Baywatch induction on WrestleCrap, or even the first one written by me; a few years back I wrote up Giant Gonzalez’s appearance as the stupid pelican man.
Looking back, I made a few errors that I’d like to correct right here. First, I said that Baywatch had recently been cropped from its original fullscreen format to fit a wide screen. In fact, I had it somewhat backwards; Baywatch was originally shot on film, then cropped for broadcast television. Also, these remastered episodes on Hulu feature different music, meaning that by watching on a streaming site, I had missed out on this incredible ballad about the Pelican Man.
Well, it looks like we’ve had enough talk. It’s time for the main event!
The episode begins with CJ (played by Pamela Anderson) and Cody (played by David Chokachi, the 90s heartthrob best known for appearing on Baywatch and being named David Chokachi).
It’s Cody’s birthday, and he has some big plans for the evening involving sex with CJ.
But, just his luck, yet another idiot kid gets trapped in a cave. If Baywatch were a popular TV show in the Baywatch universe, these kids would have smartened up by now.
Our himbo hero rescues the boy from the dreaded fiberglass cavern, eating up five minutes of runtime.
While that might seem like a lot of time to devote to something completely unrelated to the plot, most episodes feature not only a superfluous rescue, but one or two musical montages featuring the Baywatch babes, hunks, and/or random sunbathers.
This episode, on the other hand, is focused on telling a coherent and compelling story and can’t afford such frivolous interruptions.
Now, for a five-minute excursion to Vegas with a bunch of characters we’ve never seen before.
At the tables, a high roller named Mr. Blanton waits impatiently for his “good luck charm”. “Sorry, Mr. Blanton,” says his bodyguard Shawn Michaels. “She’s usually on time”, he adds, helpfully.
In walks an older lady, who rolls on behalf of Mr. Blanton. She rolls snake eyes. Incredulous, Blanton demands she roll again, this time betting a total of $250,000 on every number. And wouldn’t you know it?
She suffers the second-worst embarrassment a woman of her age can experience involving the word, “craps”.
Furious, Stanton tells HBK to take the very annoying woman to her hotel room…
…presumably to kill her like the last two women who lost his money at craps. This woman, identified as Miss Sands, doesn’t much look forward to being killed, so she finds a secret floppy disk and puts it in a computer.
The computer turns on automatically and runs a spreadsheet of Tony Blanton’s gambling winnings, which total nearly nine million dollars. “I bet that wasn’t reported!”, she says to herself. Secret or not, Tony Blanton is nice enough to put his name on the document in big letters, just to give the IRS a sporting chance when they prosecute him for tax evasion.
Evidence in hand, Shelley Sands sneaks out of the room…
…before Tony discovers his disk is missing and sends Shawn after her. And if you think he’s mad now, wait until he finds out she improperly shut down his PC!
The bodyguard’s name, by the way, is Vinnie. Baywatch needed a wrestler to play a bodyguard named Vinnie in Vegas…
…and they chose Shawn Michaels.
Back in California, Cody and CJ are making out when there’s a knock at the door. It’s Shelley Sands, who is not just a former Vegas showgirl, but also CJ’s mother.
CJ invites mom in, putting an end to her and Cody’s evening of out-making. As consolation, Mom thinks Cody’s a stud.
CJ’s roommate Caroline is gone for the weekend, so Shelley stays in her room. She’s lucky Baywatch never uses more than 2/3 of its cast on any given episode, or she’d be sleeping on the couch.
The next morning, CJ shows her mom around Baywatch headquarters, where she ogles her first naked lifeguard (that we know of).
CJ’s mom loves to gamble, but the lifeguards love Procter & Gamble, which produces fine products like Head & Shoulders® shampoo…
…and Pepto Bismol®.
When CJ leaves the room, Mom hides the floppy disk behind some quality products.
I’m not saying this episode had budget constraints, but there are eleven cast members in the opening credits, and only three appear in this one. Besides CJ and Cody, there’s only Mitch Buchannon, who never misses an episode, despite spending his evenings running a paranormal detective agency with Angie Harmon.
Shelley the cougar is really glad to see him.
So is Shawn Michaels.
When Mitch and CJ (who sports an Ahmed-sized wedgie) are distracted making a rescue…
…Shawn appears in some ugly 90s swim trunks and tries to drag mom off the beach…
…only to bump for the 58-year-old woman and run away. As a cover story for her attempted kidnapping, she makes up some nonsense about arguing over a $100 bill.
Shelley thought she could take refuge in Los Angeles, but Tony Stanton is cunning enough to track his “good luck charm” down to her daughter’s place of work. Tony may be superstitious, but he’s not stupid.
Before making death threats to Shelley over the phone, he gives Mitch his real name, just to give the state of California a sporting chance when they try him for murder.
In private, CJ makes her mom tell her the truth, then insists they march right down to the violent mobster’s hotel and tell him off in person. And it works! (Note: Obviously it doesn’t work)
After the ladies leave, Tony tells Shawn that now both women need to die, and 5’11” Shawn tries to make himself look as big as possible.
Thinking she’s safe as long as she has that floppy disk as insurance, Shelley dances with the men of Baywatch, just like in her Vegas heyday (except she keeps her top on).
The next day, HBK and another goon nab CJ and her mom and bring them to Tony, who wants his disk back. Said goon has no discernible personality and nothing important to say, but unlike Shawn, he doesn’t get any lines.
CJ has one hour to bring him the incriminating files, or he’ll drown her mom. In the meantime, Mom downs drink after drink. At least she doesn’t let Michaels near her glass.
CJ rushes into the locker room to get the disk and insists to Mitch that nothing is wrong. But Mitch doesn’t find her acting at all convincing (on Baywatch, if you can imagine such a thing).
CJ brings the floppy disk to the mobster, who then reneges on his deal. Tony may be superstitious and stupid, but he’s no pushover, insisting the two women be killed anyway. For Shawn Michaels, whom Pam Anderson had refused to accompany to the ring at last year’s WrestleMania, revenge is sweet.
But Mitch Buchannon’s investigative skills don’t stop at mummies and vampires — they can apply to run-of-the-mill criminals as well. Sensing something is wrong with CJ, Mitch and Cody track her down to the beach, where their stunt doubles ambush Tony and his hired muscle.
While Mitch takes care of business against the nameless goon with punches and a hammerlock…
…and even Shelley neutralizes Tony with bionic elbows…
…Cody has the unenviable task of fighting a real live pro wrestler in Shawn Michaels.
I know what you’re thinking: Is Shawn going to do Sweet Chin Music in this brawl? And the answer is…
…no. In fact, HBK doesn’t get in any offense whatsoever against David Chokachi, who schools Shawn with a double-leg takedown…
…and a front facelock. “That’ll teach you to mess with my girlfriend’s mother!”, says Cody as a whimsical musical score accompanies his punches. The beatdown is so one-sided, Vince McMahon would blame it on nine lifeguards.
I’d say Cody makes short work of Shawn, but this fight somehow goes on for a minute and a half (although most of the focus is on CJ’s mom pulling Tony’s hair and screeching).
Tony may be stupid and superstitious and a pushover…
The show ends with a heart-to-heart between CJ and her mom, who promises to put together a new act…
…and to visit CJ in LA as soon as she takes her show on the road. And to think – if it weren’t for the Baywatch lifeguards saving the day, Shelley might have never been seen again. (Note: Shelley is never seen again)
Speaking of never seen again, this was pretty much it for Shawn Michaels’s acting career for the next two decades, save for one Pacific Blue and WrestleMania 28.
While it might not have made Shawn Michaels the next great action star, Baywatch did showcase the dynamic character that earned him the title of the Most Charismatic Superstar in the History of the WWF.