Airwolf (1984) – Mind of the Machine & To Snare a Wolf

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Season 1 of Airwolf comes to a close with these two episodes.

David Carradine guest stars in Mind of the Machine, which aired 7 April, 1984, and was written by T.S. Cook.

Carradine plays Dr. Robert Winchester, a scientist and test-pilot who was involved in designing Airwolf when the project was under the control of the villainous Charles Moffet (David Hemmings). He’s presented the idea to Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent), Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine) and Archangel (Alex Cord), with Marella (Deborah Pratt) in tow, that they need to make copies of Hawke’s performance in the supercopter, recording them to allow other pilots to fly the chopper when he’s no longer at the top of his game, and also possibly allow for the construction of more Airwolfs (Airwolves?).

Hawke is reticent, especially when he learns he’s being graded by a computer, and senses a rivalry developing between him and Winchester. The two constantly butt heads, and it comes down to a virtual pissing contest, when they agree to fly against one another in simulation, both of them flying an Airwolf.

But there’s more going on here, and Winchester’s assistant, Diana Norris (Sondra Currie) may not be all that she seems to be.

Once again, this ends up being a fairly well crafted story, featuring spies, ego, and technology.

One of the things I’ve liked about this serious, right from the off, besides the awesome helicopter, is the fact that yes, Hawke tends to be right a lot of the time, but he’s not always the nicest guy, and you don’t always necessarily like him, even if he is the show’s hero.

It’s an interesting dynamic.

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In the season finale, To Snare a Wolf, Lance LeGault, who has been supplying his voice to the show’s narration, and is a Bellisario staple, makes an appearance, as does another Bellisario favorite, Jeff MacKay. Written by Louis F. Vipperman and airing 14 April, 1984, this episode sees a rogue operative inside the Firm, Bogard (LeGault), attempting to hunt down Airwolf.

Bogard commandeers the flight package of a spy satellite launch, and programs it for his own needs, to track down the supercopter, and reclaim it for the government.

String and Dom are busy, meanwhile, filming a military training film, working alongside MacKay’s Sgt. Willie Nash. When they receive word from Archangel about the rogue element in the Firm, and Bogard’s plan, Hawke takes a quick leave. Flying Airwolf out of the Valley of the Gods, he hides her in an airplane graveyard, and works to elude Bogard and his men.

It doesn’t quite work out that way of course, and a face-off happens. It always bothers me that if they know how advanced Airwolf is, wouldn’t they at least try to bring some advanced firepower, and air support to take the chopper down? They never do! And then they’re upset when Airwolf routinely blows them out of the sky!

The episode sees the inclusion of a new pilot, Kathleen Lloyd as Toni Donatelli, who may or may be back next season, but definitely introduces the idea of having a female character front and center in the series, as opposed to working solely with Archangel and being there for exposition purposes.

I’ll be curious to see where season 2 takes us!

 

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