"Matt Houston" Shark Bait (TV Episode 1982) Poster

(TV Series)

(1982)

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Jaws Attacks Baywatch
JasonDanielBaker14 August 2011
Lifeguards at a popular beach keep getting attacked and killed by sharks. The mother (Dorothy Malone) of a young lifeguard (Lori Loughlin) who has not even been attacked yet hires Houston to find out why the shark or sharks are feasting on lifeguards.

Houston conveniently just happens to be a lifeguard whose qualifications just happen to still be valid and he goes undercover at the beach. A line of narration from C.J. is just supposed to magically square that bit of his background that they pull out of nowhere to fit the plot. It is part of his arc they will likely discard in future episodes.

After awhile you begin to wonder if the producers are watching the show at all or if they just think audiences are complete imbeciles. You could argue that audiences won't remember something they saw in previous episodes but that argument falls apart when you note that they show reruns and different markets broadcast different episodes at different times.

What you discover from all this is that which should be obvious from the beginning i.e. that series TV episodes are not meant to be watched back-to-back but from week to week and without a critical eye that might notice discrepancies.

Then there is Houston's point of entry into the mystery. Why is he being asked to investigate by the mother of a girl who has not been murdered nor has ever been threatened as far as we know? If the mother is so concerned why doesn't she just get her daughter to employ the number one strategy for avoiding shark attack i.e. not getting in the water? And why does some rich dude who doesn't know anyone involved care? As usual a group of suspects, each with shady pasts and motives present themselves at the scene. As usual Houston asks too many of the right questions to too many of the wrong people and the requisite unsuccessful attempt is made on his life.

This episode not only takes an intriguing premise and turns it into something senseless and dull, the bizarre way it was framed and shot calls attention to itself and reminds the viewer it is just a show when they should be getting caught up in the narrative. As for editing and pacing it is pretty much as puzzling as everything else in the episode. What a waste of a great cast too.

The cutesy, unfunny low-brow comedy we see at the beach party and with Vince Novelli'skids is also not consistent with the dry humour of the better episodes. It's dumb and it cuts down the overall flow.

Paul Brinegar and Dennis Fimple who played Houston's comic relief ranch-hands Lamar and Bo are credited as having been in this episode but they are only seen in the opening montage.

That is Dorothy Malone from Peyton Place. After appearing in 336 episodes of that show in four years she didn't appear in film or TV that often probably because she was recovering from the workload.
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