Airwolf (1985) – Dambreakers and Severance Pay


An exciting adventure for Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) leads off the episode installments this week!

Dambreakers was written by Westbrook Claridge, Alfonse Ruggiero and Douglas Steinberg, with an original airdate of 16 March, 1985.

Hawke flies an eager, young reporter, Kelly Dayton (Heather McNair) to a remote religious community to do a story. Having been invited, the reporter and pilot make their way into the mountains via a Santini Air chopper, and begin their interviews.

But there’s a much more sinister motive behind the invitation. It seems a group of terrorists are hiding in plain sight within the group, one of them even posing as their religious leader, Johann Rector (Marjoe Gortner). They have invited the reporter out to document their attack on a local dam, a terrorist strike against the capitalistic west.

Using a B-25 bomber, they have already blown one dam (I swear this features footage lifted from the dam burst in Superman: The Movie) and are planning on blowing another. String and Kelly are taken hostage, so it’s up to Dom (Ernest Borgnine) and Caitlin (Jean Bruce Scott) to fly Airwolf up to rescue them, and then when they do, String takes over the pilot seat to chase down the bomber.

This one features some nice aerial photography of the supercopter around the dam, and it looks sweet, especially as she rises up from behind it, the dam wall in the background.

Happily, the day is saved, the terrorists are vanquished, and the chopper roars off into the sky again!


Severance Pay was written by Chester Krumholz and aired 23 March, 1985.

It seems there’s a mole inside the Firm leaking information about the existence of Airwolf (believed to have been destroyed) to the Russians.

Deborah Pratt makes her first appearance as Marella in quite some time and it’s nice to see her back, though she isn’t given much to do, and honestly, I think it would have been really cool if she had turned out to be the mole. It would have changed the complete tone of the series, and made you question who you could trust.

When his retirement bonus cheques are denied, Hawke’s friend and former Firm employee, Larry Mason (Arte Johnson) vows to release classified information should he not be given his financial due.

Archangel (Alex Cord) explains the less than happy scenario of Larry’s terms of employment, but promises the pilot he’ll do his best to make things right. Unfortunately, not everyone at the Firm agrees with the timeline that Archangel and Larry agree to, using Hawke as an intermediary, and things begin to spiral out of control quickly.

So Hawke not only has to fix things with his friend, an intelligence gathering genius, but also try to flush out the real mole.

This one is a fast-moving story, and in today’s era of serialized television, this would have been the nice culmination of a season long arc, in which they introduced Larry at the beginning of the season, and built that thread up over the course of the year. Unfortunately, with television at the time, it had to be contained all within a 48 minute period, and therefore lacks a bit of an emotional punch.

We’re closing on the end of season 2!!



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