Where else can you surf, snowboard and ride horses, all before lunch?” queries a narrative voice. It sounds like some quirky Army recruitment pitch, but instead it’s the opening to this mindless new NBC hour of Must Sea TV about big muscles, big chests, big egos and big waves on the big island of Hawaii. It’s “Baywatch” meets “The Big Valley,” giving fresh new meaning to the term “tan your hide.”
It would be easy to say that “Wind on Water” is just another misguided attempt to court an audience (any audience will do) in the primetime Siberia known as Saturday night. But in reality it is both much more — and much less — than that. The acting is almost surrealistically bad, and the people involved are hardly the usual suspects, beginning with Zalman King, the eroticist whose past projects include “9 1/2 Weeks” and the steamy “Red Shoe Diaries” series.
King is co-creator and exec producer as well as the pilot’s director and co-writer, and his cast includes faces that would put a sparkle in Quentin Tarantino’s eye: Bo Derek (a mere 19 years removed from her goddess role in “10 “) and ol’ Matt Houston himself, Lee Horsley (13 years after ABC canceled “Matt”).
Derek, who poses suggestively for a few “10” flashbacks complete with cornrows, plays Ciel Connolly, a mom who will become a widowed mom before the pilot (co-penned by King, Matt George and Charles Rosin) is over. She busies herself in the opening hour alternately preening and carrying saddles while dispensing dubious pearls of bohemian wisdom like, “You follow your dreams where they take you.”
Horsley is the greedy no-goodnik Gardner Poole, your basic evil rich developer hell-bent on grabbing first Ciel’s cattle ranch and then her freshly available body. We know that Poole is totally vile because he squints an awful lot, a foolproof tipoff to bad intent on TV. He’s also got a really young and beautiful wife. His rebellious daughter Kate (Jacinda Barrett) hates his millionaire guts.
Opening “Wind on Water” hour swirls primarily around Ciel’s two world class-surfing sons Cole (William Gregory Lee) and Kelly (Brian Gross), a couple of extreme sports addicts who enjoy putting their buff bods on the line almost as much as they like acting sullen in that misunderstood-artist sorta way. In the weeks to come, they will ride jet-skis, sky dive, race dirt-bikes and steer canoes for fun and profit. But they promise to remain sniveling and pouty throughout.
Pilot has the guys chasing both girls and humongous waves, with helmer King and his lens team headed by John Aronson supplying some spectacular Hawaiian location shots both underwater and above land. The pictures, like the performers , promise to always be great to look at, even if much of the sloppily edited surfing footage resembles outtakes from “The Endless Summer.”
And once these people open their mouths, the vapid dialogue flows freely and the insipid plotting erases any good intentions. Or is it perfectly understandable that a young man would see his father’s funeral as a golden opportunity to commence heavy petting with his favorite babe? Tech credits are wildly inconsistent.