Riptide was an Amercian television series which aired for three seasons from 1983-1986 on NBC—and it’s one of my favorite “long lost” TV shows of the 80s as well. Created by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo, Riptide was similar in tone and style to many of their other popular action/adventure series of the time, including The A-Team which had just launched to great success earlier in ’83. It also tried to cash in on two other trends that were taking off at the time: home computer technology, and helicopters as “cool” action-adventure vehicles (the Roy Scheider film “Blue Thunder” had been a major hit that summer.)
Launched as a mid-season replacement in December ’83, Riptide followed the adventures of Cody Allen (played by Perry King), Nick Ryder (Joe Penny) and Murray Bozinsky (Thom Bray): three Vietnam veterans and former army buddies. When Nick and Cody decide to open a detective agency in Los Angeles, they soon realize they could use Murray’s help to take advantage of computer technology in their investigations. While Nick and Cody are attractive, smooth ladies’ men, Murray is rather socially inept, a stereotypical “computer nerd” who often provides comic relief throughout their adventures.
The three base their investigations out of Cody’s boat, the Riptide, which is moored at Pier 56 in King Harbor, California. They also have at their disposal Murray’s robot (“Roboz”), Nick’s aging pink helicopter The Screaming Mimi, and Cody’s speedboat, the Ebb Tide. During their investigations, they are often harassed by Lt. Quinlan (Jack Ging), a local police officer who does not approve of their operation—although in later episodes of the show he becomes more cooperative with them. Other characters who occasionally appeared in series episodes included Mama Jo, skipper of the all-female tourist boat the Barefoot Contessa; Max, a comedienne at a local club; and Dooley, a dockboy who sometimes helps the Riptide team in their investigations.
After initially airing on Saturday nights, Riptide was then moved to Tuesday nights at 9pm, following The A-Team and right before Remington Steele. That made Tuesdays on NBC the hottest night of the week for action-adventure lovers (and it seemed NBC’s hope was that both The A-Team and Remington Steele would help buoy Riptide‘s success.)
The problem was Riptide never quite seemed to take off with viewers to the same extent as these other two hit shows. Perhaps the television market was getting a little tired of the action formula, and ready for something new and different? In 1985, ABC launched Moonlighting as competition in that Tuesday night 9pm time slot, a show which would become one of the hottest of the mid-80s. Riptide would even acknowledge this in a tongue-in-cheek way in one of its final episodes, “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em”, where the guys serve as consultants for a TV show that strongly resembles their ABC competition.
Riptide would enjoy some resurgence in popularity after the first season was finally released on DVD in 2006. By 2008 all three seasons were available as a boxed set, and many had the chance to either revisit the show for the first time since the 80s or discover it completely anew. While the computer technology and other 80s elements can come across as quite dated today, the real appeal of the show is the great chemistry between the three lead actors. You definitely get the impression that they have known each other and cared about each other as friends for years. There’s also a bit more depth to their relationships and the storylines compared to, say, The A-Team, and if you enjoy private detective stories and mysteries, there are some interesting ones that the Riptide team investigates throughout the show’s 56-episode run.
Riptide also has a small but dedicated fandom presence on LiveJournal, with communities and fandom guides available there including:
A few Riptide fanzines have also been produced, which you can find out more about at Fanlore.
Related posts at Spacial Anomaly
sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.