Baywatch is an American action drama series about the Los Angeles County lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles County, California, starring David Hasselhoff. The show was cancelled after its first season on NBC, but survived through syndication and later became one of the most-watched television shows in the world. The show ran in its original title and format from 1989 to 1999. From 1999 to 2001, with a setting change and large cast overhaul, it was known as Baywatch: Hawaii.
Baywatch premiered on NBC in 1989, but was cancelled after only one season, when it placed 73rd out of 103 shows in the seasonal ratings, and also because the studio, GTG, went out of business. Due to high production costs, GTG was unable to finance the series any further.
Feeling the series still had potential, David Hasselhoff, one of the principal actors, along with creators and executive producers Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Gregory J. Bonann, revived it for the first-run syndication market in 1991. Hasselhoff was given the title of executive producer for his work on bringing the show back. The series was hugely successful, especially internationally.
Babewatch is a satirical term sometimes used in connection with the series, which has been used by Mad, by commentators, and as the title for a series of adult films with crossover characters which ran between 1994 and 1999 in 13 parts.
In 1999, with production costs rising in Los Angeles, and the syndication market shrinking, the plan was to move the show to Australia and launch Baywatch Down Under. A pilot was filmed, but the series was stopped when residents of Avalon put forth strong objections, including potential damage to a fragile ecosystem. Pittwater Council permanently barred all future filming.
As an alternative to Australia, Hawaii offered the producers large financial incentives to move the show to the islands, instead, and in season 10, Baywatch: Hawaii was launched.
Baywatch filmed for two seasons in Hawaii, from 1999 until 2001. The proposal to relocate Baywatch to Hawaii rather than Australia was initiated by April Masini in a telephone call to executive producer Greg Bonann. The deal to provide the incentives necessary to secure the series was presented to Governor Ben Cayetano by Al Masini and April Masini, Tony Vericella, president of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Cayetano’s executive assistant, Joe Blanco. The agreement required the production to change its name from Baywatch to Baywatch: Hawaii, hire local leads, and film in the state for at least two years, guaranteeing 44 episodes, each at a cost of about US$870,000, 60% of which was to be spent in Hawaii.
Baywatch revolved around the work of a team of lifeguards and their interpersonal relationships, with plots usually centering on dangers related to the beach and other activities pertinent to the California (later Hawaii) beach lifestyle. Topics from earthquakes and shark attacks to serial killers served as plot conflicts on the show. Saving people from drowning was one of the most typical situations used in the shows.
- David Hasselhof
- Brandon Call
- Jeremy Jackson
- Michael Newman
- Gregory Alan Williams
- Parker Stevenson
- Holly Gagnier
- Billy Warlock
- Pamela Anderson
- Alexandra Paul
- Nicole Eggert
- Carmen Electra
The original NBC theme was “Save Me”, performed by Peter Cetera, with Bonnie Raitt on guitar and Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys, as one of the background vocalists. The song is from Cetera’s 1988 album One More Story.
- On some DVD releases of the first series “Save Me” was replaced with “Above the Waterline” by Kim Carnes.
- For the syndicated series, the new theme “I’m Always Here” (written by Jimi Jamison, Cory Lerios, John D’Andrea and Joe Henry, performed by Jimi Jamison of Survivor) replaced “Save Me”. An instrumental version of “I’m Always Here” was used as the ending theme of seasons 6 to 9. A different instrumental version was used as the theme for season 10 (the first season of Baywatch: Hawaii). Some parts of the lyrics of “I’m Always Here” are written on Jimi’s grave.
- When the NBC episodes were added to the Baywatch syndication package, the opening theme was changed to a shorter version of “I’m Always Here”, with some images of the original NBC opening retained.
- David Hasselhoff sang the Kevin Savigar–Todd Cerney tune “Current of Love” as the ending theme of Seasons 2–4 (on Seasons 2 and 3, the version of this song has been fast and on Season 4, the version of this song has been slow). Together with Laura Branigan he sang “I Believe” as the ending theme of Season 5.
- On the DVD edition of the second season, the original main title theme is replaced by the song “Strong Enough”, performed by Evan Olson (from his album Audio).
- The theme for season 11 (the second season of Baywatch: Hawaii) was called “Let Me Be the One” written and performed by Carlos Villalobos, Glenn Medeiros and sung by Fiji.
- The spin-off series, Baywatch Nights theme song was performed by saxophonist Alfonzo Blackwell. “The Nights Will Never Be the Same” (Baywatch Nights Theme) was also featured on his 1996 sophomore CD release. Alfonzo Blackwell was featured with David Hasselhoff each week in the ending credits of the TV series.
Other versions of “I’m Always Here” include:
- An instrumental version of the song appears in the episode “Battles” of the UK television programme Spaced.
- The Swedish electronic musical group Sunblock remixed the song and released it as a single.
- A soundalike version was used in the Hey Arnold! episode “Summer Love” over the end credits.
- Swedish group Konditorns recorded the theme with Swedish lyrics for their album K2 (2012), titled “Jag är alltid här” which is a direct translation of the phrase “I’m always here”.