‘In the very first scene a lifeguard spots a man getting into difficulties on a surfboard and dashes down the beach to save him,’ said one TV critic. ‘But when he gets there we see the man is strapped to the board and someone else is drenching him using a watering can. They must have really slashed the stunts budget since the original Baywatch.’
The programme’s producers claim Guantanamo Baywatch was intended to show the lighter side of torture and human rights abuse. It features David Hasselhoff re-cast as a troubled mentor who helps new recruit Abu Hamza overcome disability and a chequered past to pursue a career in lifeguarding. In return Hamza attempts to cure Hasselhoff’s drinking problem with a sympathetic combination of doctrinal rhetoric and occasional violence.
‘To be completely honest, hiring Abu Hamza was our first mistake,’ said producer Jerry Baumstein. ‘Our casting director got entirely the wrong end of the stick when we said the show needed a hook. And things only got worse when Hamza showed up for the first day’s shoot and absolutely refused to get his feet wet. That’s when we noticed the fuses coming from his shoes. David started drinking quite heavily after that.’
The show also features a cameo appearance from one-time star Pamela Anderson, although her character is quickly killed in a controlled explosion due to fears she is carrying plastic explosives under her swimsuit.
Despite its lukewarm reception, the show has been praised for its dramatic and emotional ending. ‘Hamza spots a floating body in the distance and courageously swims out to help the victim,’ says Baumstein. ‘But when he gets it ashore, he realises it’s the body of his long-lost spiritual leader. Of course, the guy’s wracked with guilt at not having got there in time, but he’d have needed more than just mouth-to-mouth. There’s just some things they can’t teach you in those al-Qaeda lifeguard training camps.’
(hat-tip to Screenie)