Robert Conrad just keeps going and going and going … In NBC’s “Search and Rescue,” TV’s most tenacious tough guy mellows a bit as the crew chief of a volunteer search-and-rescue team high up in a Sierra hamlet, but without him this mountain movie would freeze. Though the concept needs some fine-tuning, the idea of mixing drama into “Rescue 911”-like action might attract the scanner buffs and accident gawkers flocking to reality-based skeins.
Director Paul Krasny and writers George Schenck and Frank Cardea attempt to make the action as spontaneous as possible — thus, there’s not a real linear plot, rather more reactive movement.
One underlying plot of fading love between a female member of the S&R crew — played by Lavelda Fann — and her soon-to-be groom (Martin Hewitt) fills the holes between rescues, but this is when the air gets thin.
What rescues this telepic are the accidents, searches for stranded skiers and the like.
Eclectic cast of Conrad, Chad McQueen, Wil Shriner and Ramon Franco offer a wide variety of personalities.
McQueen as the swaggering, shake-down sheriff and Shriner as the yuppie mountaineer keep the supporting cast from being unnoticed.
In fact, Conrad is more of the coach, standing in the wings ready to step in and hold the reins.
Camerawork by James Roberson captures the rich blues and sharp sunlight of the High Sierras, and locations offer a veritable travelogue of the West’s best high-altitude hangouts. The challenge for Black Sheep Prods. and NBC is to create a plot that interweave with the rescue action.
If the characters and premise expect a longer life, there also might be a challenge for the production when the heavy snows hit, if “Search and Rescue” gets a shot.