The “super-vehicle” genre was born in 1982 with NBC’s Knight Rider about a talking crime-fighting car. Two years later came “the Lady” known as CBS’ Airwolf, which premiered around the same time as ABC’s Blue Thunder and the Screaming Mimi from NBC’s Riptide as mid-season replacements: the year of the crime-fighting helicopter.
Blue Thunder was struck by low ratings after one season while Riptide kept surfing for three seasons, but Airwolf turboed for four seasons … if you really liked the season on USA Network instead of the original, which still remains the best.
Loaded with several offensive and defensive weapons with the capability of going Mach-1 plus, Airwolf is the most hi-tech, elite, advanced, attack, and sophiscated helicopter that can “kick butt”.
However, when its sinister creator, Dr. Moffet, stole it and took it to Libya, Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III (Alex Cord), aka Archangel of the government agency called the Firm enlists Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) to retrieve it. A recluse since the Vietnam War, Hawke would rather be at his cabin fishing and serenading the eagles with his cello, yet he reluctantly agree to take the mission on one condition: the Firm would locate his older brother Saint John (“Sinjin”), who’s been missing since the war.
Though Hawke and his mentor Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine) completed the mission, the Firm failed to live up their end, so Hawke hid Airwolf inside the Valley of the Gods, and thus set the entire premise of the series: the Firm would keep looking for Saint John if Hawke and Dom fly Airwolf on missions of national and international interest … while the Firm, the entire intelligence community, and every bad guy try to get their hands on Airwolf.
Only the DVD contains a photo gallery and a brand-new interview with Borgnine instead of adding more extras such audio commentaries from series creator Donald P. Bellisario, who wrote and directed the pilot, his then-wife Deborah Pratt, who played Marella for the first two seasons and wrote fan favorite “Fallen Angel”, and a retrospect of the series with the cast and crew for the first time — including an exclusive interview with Vincent himself.
With the exception of the infamous fourth season, Airwolf is more relevant today in our post-9/11 world as it was during the Cold War, for it is more than Knight Rider with a helicopter.