Cute dolphin antics and lovely locations can’t redeem this syndicated revival of the ’60s aquatic-mammal adventure show, with its hokey script and, at least in the first two episodes (a two-parter), an unbelievable premise that takes the whole “Flipper” gang of American citizens to Cuba. If “Flipper” is looking to draw in family auds, this underwater acrobat better stay out of international waters.
Original series, which ran 1964-68, featured a semi-exotic setting (Florida’s Everglades), an endearing dolphin and a sweet theme song. The ’90s “Flipper” is edgier, but aims for wholesome family action-adventure, with a teensy bit o’ “Baywatch” bikini thrills snuck in.
Dr. Keith Ricks (Brian Wimmer) seems to be a marine biologist, although it’s never made clear. (It’s not spelled out if he is the son of “Flipper’s” Porter Ricks, the main character of the first series.)
Also intro’d are Dr. Pam Blondel (Colleen Flynn), a Navy scientist, and her teen son Mike (Payton Haas) and his friend Maya (Jessica Marie Alba), who all seem to live in the same house, it’s presumed, or maybe not, since the relationships are not made clear.
Mike and Maya have “adopted” a friendly and talented wild dolphin that they call Flipper. Flipper does tricks for them off the beach where they live in the Florida Keys.
Ricks gets a visit from an old college pal, Tyrell (William R. Moses), who traffics in exotic animals. Tyrell needs a trained dolphin for a luxury resort he’s involved with in Cuba. After all, El Presidente is skedded to visit the resort and he loves trained dolphins. The sleazy resort owner does not want to disappoint El Presidente.
Ricks refuses to deal in black market dolphins, so Tyrell kidnaps Flipper.
Flipper, unhappy in Cuban captivity (where, stereotypically, all the locals smoke cigars), won’t do tricks for the resort’s trainer. Meantime, Ricks, the kids and the U.S. Navy officer traipse off to a country with which the U.S. has no diplomatic relations.
Show teeters between unintentional hilarity and drama/adventure, which makes for a disconcerting, lightweight mix.
Opening credits tease future episodes that appear to be more down to earth, but overall tone of first two segs is just silly.
Kudos to d.p. John Stokes for his beautiful ocean shots and to the animals’ trainers, Darryl (Spike) Pearce and Wayne Phillips.
Syndicated show airs locally on KCAL, which airs original episodes on Sunday nights and repeats segs on Saturdays at noon.