Pilot for new Terry (Hulk) Hogan series waddles into the water with an indifferent cast, Douglas Schwartz’s so-so direction and Michael Berk’s script that doesn’t always hold water. Though it’s sold in 107 syndie marts, minimal use of actors Charlotte Rae and Patrick Macnee and the familiar plotting suggest that not much attention is expected for the actioner; not much will be forthcoming.
Florida-based husky daredevil R.J. Spencer (Hogan) owns Thunder, a prototype boat built by Spencer’s buddy Bru (Chris Lemmon), whose life Spencer once saved. Commandos for hire, Spencer and Bru don’t have far to look for adventure, mediocre as it is. Megan (Felicity Waterman), heir to a magnificent waterfront hotel, could lose the property to her uncle (Macnee), who claims she has to marry within 48 hours or lose the place. She asks acquaintance Spencer to marry her, since he needs money to pay off his boat loan — and Thunder means everything to him. Megan has a small, unexplained daughter (Robin Weisman) and an unexplained chum (Rae), who serves as her matron of honor.
Spencer rescues a woman and daughter escaping Cuba, enjoys the nubile beach maidens lolling around like salamanders (the males of the species are amusingly at a minimum) and cracks his knuckles against Bru’s as a sign of male togetherness. Bru is interested in exquisite-eyed Kelly (Carol Alt), who tends the beach bar, speaks with a New York accent and doesn’t show much acting development.
An underwater sequence in which Spencer seeks an opening in a cave has its moments, and seeing Megan drop into the Thunder is worth a laugh. But artillery blasts from both the good and the evil guys, Spencer’s abilities to get himself out of bad spots, Thunder’s various talents (including a droning voice warning about problems) and those beach damsels are what less-demanding watchers will cherish.
Acting generally is urgent if not convincing. Hogan gives his role heft, and Lemmon, stuck with a role of no consequence, fares better than expected. The ladies seem in distress.
The camerawork is casual, at one point focusing on a sign warning about a hurricane that never comes. Editing is undistinguished, and production designer Robert Henderson reveals little originality. As for the music, including the theme song, it’s a bust.
Production looks used, and the gorgeous Florida scenery is ignored. On land, “Thunder in Paradise,” with its flat dialogue and Spencer and Bru’s forced camaraderie, is an embarrassment; in the water, program sinks.