Sunday, April 22, 2018

TV on DVD Review: Flipper - Season 2

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Charming, light entertainment
Cons: Cheese, cut corners obvious, dated, slow pacing, formulaic
The Bottom Line:
This kid friendly show
Offsets many flaws with a
Charming pet dolphin

“Sometimes, I Wonder How We Were All Able to Get Along Without That Dolphin.”

When someone new got the rights to the 1960’s TV show Flipper and released a reasonably priced collection of season 2, I jumped at the chance to get more of this dolphin’s adventures.  The show has its flaws, but there is still something fun about it.

The show is set in Florida where Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly) is a ranger for the Coral Keys Park.  He lives there with his two sons Sandy (Luke Halpin) and Bud (Tommy Norden).  And of course, there’s Flipper.  Flipper is the family’s pet dolphin, and it’s a good thing they have him in their life.  Living so close to the water, the three seem to constantly be getting in dangerous situations, and it’s up to Flipper to save them or get them the help they need.  Just in the course of this season, they cross paths with a thief, discover a mine bomb in the park, Sandy finds himself trapped with a short plane ride ends in a crash, a movie stunt goes horribly wrong, and Bud finds himself trapped in a shark cage under water.

Really, about the only thing that has changed between seasons is the addition of Ulla Stromstedt as Ulla Norstrand.  At first this scientist bumps heads with the Ricks family, but she quickly comes to appreciate them and Flipper.  There’s even a bit of a hint of romance between her and Porter.  You know, for a 1960’s kid’s show.

And make no mistake about it, this is a kid’s show.  Sandy and Bud are the real human stars and they get away with way too much.  On the other hand, that also means that, no matter what the characters are facing, you know that everyone will turn out to be okay.

It also means that the writers didn’t seem to try too hard with the formula.  With 30 episodes this season, it gets a bit wearing at times, too.  On the other hand, it’s hard to come up with 30 different ways that a dolphin can be involved in a major way in a story.  The ones that work best are the ones that feature a good variation on the theme, like Bud and a couple of friends trapped in a car off the road or Sandy being tricked by a spy.

Then there’s the budget issues.  You can tell what was stock footage shot for something else and edited into this show and what was not filmed in open water.

And if they needed to fill some time in an episode?  They cut in shots of Flipper and the characters swimming under water.  Yes, the pacing is off in many of these episodes.  This seems especially true in the two parters.

On the other hand, I would find myself getting caught up in some of the tenser scenes.  Oh, I’d know that everyone would turn out to be okay, but I’d find myself glued to the screen to find out just how Flipper would save the day this time.

The acting?  It works for this show.  There’s nothing amazing here, but the scripts don’t call for anything amazing either.  There’s a certain dated cheese factor to the entire thing.

And that is part of the charm of the show.  No, this isn’t anything amazing, but if you can let yourself get caught up in the story, you’ll find you enjoy it.

Then again, maybe I just get caught up in the fantasy.  I’d love to have a pet dolphin and live next to the water so I can jump in and go for a swim every day.

As I mentioned, this set contains 30 half hour episodes.  It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray.  I went ahead and bought the Blu-Ray.  I’m not sure the picture really warranted it, especially with the various quality of the shots.  It is presented in its native full frame and stereo.

Those looking for some kid friendly nostalgia will enjoy this season 2 set of Flipper.  But it is certainly an acquired taste.

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