I realize it's a somewhat weird hobby for a person to have, but something I've always enjoyed is hunting down really obscure TV shows that only had a short run or never even saw the light of day. While it's true that many of these long lost shows are godawful, every now and then I'll stumble onto a real gem that the big TV execs at the time sadly didn't have the foresight to see the need for. Case in point: The Renegades. This was a short-lived ABC TV show from 1982 about a gang that is given the option of going to jail for their crimes or becoming a special police undercover unit. Sounds great already, doesn't it? Well it gets even better.
The star of The Renegades, and leader of the gang, was none other than Patrick Swayze. This is the same man who made Red Dawn, The Outsiders, Dirty Dancing and of course Road House so entertaining, so seeing him in one of his earliest roles is one hell of a treat. The fact that he was in the show alone should warrant a full DVD release, but sadly nothing of the sort has been planned to my knowledge. It's a damned shame too, because there were only six episodes that aired (plus a two hour pilot which has proven to be impossible to find) before the show was cancelled.
Fortunately, I have managed to track down all six episodes of The Renegades and today I'm going to share with you the final one since it's both one of the best episodes and one that has decent quality. Keep in mind, these are coming off of VHS tapes that are nearly 30 years old, but that graininess can add some charm and show just how dated this show really is. So let's take an in-depth look at The Renegades episode entitled, "Target: Marciano". But before we do, I must turn your attention to what has to be the most important thing about the show - the intro.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm probably dedicating way too much time to the intro of the show, but I honestly don't care. Why? Because, it's simply the greatest introduction for a TV show I've ever seen in my entire life. You may not be aware of this, but it holds the honorary title of "Greatest TV Show Intro In The History Of The World". No, you probably won't find that prestigious title associated with the show anywhere else, but what I say on this web site is FACT and you will agree with me as soon as you witness said spectacle. It's so goddamned great that the show itself can't possibly live up to the excitement that this intro generates.
It all starts out in a dark alley as a car pulls up to the ominous sounds of an electronic synthesized bass. Moog-o-licious. Soon after, we see a gang walking steadily towards the camera on the wet back alley asphalt with an undefined source of beaming light and fog behind them. Maybe it's not an undefined source, maybe this gang is the source. That's just how badass these guys are. But forget about the special effects, this right here is all you need to concern your eyes with:
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh shit! He's no longer Patrick Swayze in my eyes. From here on out, he will forever be known as BANDIT! Fuck yes! And if you have a problem with that, I'm sure he'll be happy to introduce your unworthy face to those fingerless gloves of his, punk.
The next member of the gang is none other than your token black guy, also known as Eagle (Randy Brooks). And believe me, from the very first episode in the series, they throw every racial stereotype they can his way. Are you in need of an undercover basketball player, Eagle is your man! Those of you who are Tarantino fans may also recognize him as the guy who played Holdaway in Reservoir Dogs.
Another thing you gotta have in a gang is a guy with an abbreviated name, hence J.T. (Paul Mones). Naturally, we never learn what that abbreviation stands for, but that's what makes a deep character like his so utterly mysterious. Unless, of course, my initial guess of "Juice Tangston" was somehow correct.
Ah yes, the buxom blonde. You can't have a tough street gang without a gal like Tracy (Tracy Scoggins). Yes, her character had the same first name as her real name, and that was probably to keep her from getting confused. I kid of course... she's had a long career including appearances in The A-Team, T.J. Hooker (I said T.J., not J.T.) and Doogie Howser, M.D., so I think she could handle a different character name or two. I guess the director didn't give her the benefit of the doubt. Don't worry Tracy, he was probably just jealous of your fluffy hair.
And speaking of hair, try to contain yourselves ladies, Dancer (Robert Thaler) has arrived! Laugh all you want fellas, but this guy is probably the toughest one of the bunch. How do I know this? Because you have to be one tough bastard to be able to survive in a street gang with a name like "Dancer". He probably hides an uzi in that hair too.
If you thought the token black guy had it bad with stereotypes, then check out Dragon (Brian Tochi), the token Asian guy! Of course he's a martial arts expert, what else would he be, right? He's Asian! But this guy is probably used to the stereotyping considering he had roles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (he was the voice of Leonardo!) and in the Revenge of the Nerds films. Still, I bet if you asked him what the highlight of his career has been, he would tell you it was doing a standing jump kick in front of neon lights for The Renegades TV show intro.
Wow, just look into those haunting eyes. Combine that with a name like Gaucho (Fausto Bara) and me thinks Dancer might have himself some competition as the gang's primo ladykiller.
After each member of the gang has had their chance to shine in the spotlight, they continue walking through that foggy alleyway only to come face to face with two cops. Are they about to throw down? If Bandit's puffed-out chest was any kind of indication, I would say yes, but these two guys are actually on their side.
Captain Scanlon (Kurtwood Smith) is reluctantly allowing Lieutenant Marciano (James Luisi) to try out the Renegades (or "punks" as he prefers to call them) as undercover operatives for the police. Marciano is basically the easy going cop who understands the Renegades and treats them with a "kids sure do the darndest things!" attitude.
When it's all said and done, the members of the Renegades look dead serious as if the shit is about to hit the fan until they all shed their tough sides and crack some smiles. Oh you guys! And there you have it. The greatest television show intro ever made, and the series only last for six measly episodes. What a waste. You'll have a chance to watch the intro in all of its glory at the end of this article, so be sure to check it out when you're done reading about the episode itself.
The "Target: Marciano" episode begins in an acute trauma ward where a man by the name of Anthony Gunn writes a threatening letter to Lieutenant Marciano on a typewriter that was so kindly provided for him. This mental hospital apparently has a really lax policy in regards to what their patients can have in their rooms, because Gunn has a... wait for it... wait for it... wait for it.... A GUN! I shit you not, they don't explain how he got ahold of the gun, he just happened to have it. He didn't steal it from the orderly or anything. I guess we're just supposed to assume he's an evil mastermind who knows how to get his hands on a gun even from inside a mental hospital. And why wouldn't we think he's a genius like that? This is a guy who just typed a letter which reads: "YOU WILL DIE AT MIDNIGHT. SEVENTY-TWO HOURS FROM THE DATE AND TIME OF THIS LETTER. YOU WILL DIE, LIEUTENANT MARCIANO, OR OTHERS WILL DIE FOR YOU. REGARDS, GUNN." That's some poetry right there, folks. Notice how he goes out of his way to explain exactly when Marciano will die so there is no confusion? Seventy-two hours from the date AND time of the letter. And threatening as this letter may be, he's still quite courteous in his salutation. He could've signed it "Looking forward to seeing you burning in hell, Gunn" but he went the high road and signed it with a simple "Regards, Gunn". This guy is a true class act if you ask me.
Well, after he makes his big escape from the trauma ward, we see Gunn running through the darkness to an unknown destination. But we know one thing for sure... seventy-two hours from the date AND time of that letter he wrote, he'll be with Marciano. You betcha!
We then cut to the basement of the police headquarters where the Renegades await their next job. Fortunately, they've got a nice place to hangout in, what with the rainbow decorations on the wall 'n everything. It's got everything a tough street gang needs - cops and rainbows! But when the cops and rainbows aren't enough, there's nothing like pulling the ol' "shaving cream in the hand of the sleeping guy" gag on J.T. to get the gang all riled up. I swear, it's so gutbustingly hilarious to Bandit that you'd think he had never seen the prank in his entire life. Just look at the excitement in his face! He may be the leader of a tough street gang, but this guy knows how to party!
The horseplay comes to a halt when Scanlon and Marciano arrive to inform the Renegades about their next undercover job. Anthony Tony Gunn was a big time record producer with Death Head Records who was also a drug pusher. I guess all the money from being a producer wasn't enough for the guy, eh? Only in America. The jolly guy there with the amazing moustache was a cop who Gunn killed by the name of Virgil Springs, but not just any cop. It was Marciano's ex-partner! Turns out that Gunn was responsible for the drugs that killed one of his rock stars, Fedra Faz, a blonde girl who was the lead singer of the Waste Band (great name) and just happens to look exactly like Tracy.
The other members of the Waste Band - Silver Stride, Rita Rose Richileau, and Tom-Tom Porter - all survived and were just waiting for Gunn to break-out so they could reunite once again. Then there's Cynthia Holtson. She's the wealthy gal who pretty much gave Gunn his start, along with all the money he needed, and despite his drug dealing ways, she always had a thing for him. As rich as she may be, they all meet up at a Winnebago to discuss their futures... I guess the trailer park was too full. Upon Gunn's arrival, he gives Cynthia a big kiss and she says, "I was hoping that when you kissed me I wouldn't love you anymore." to which Gunn responds, "Don't be stupid." The man has a way with ladies.
As you would expect, Marciano is immediately ready to hit the streets to try and find Gunn before he kills more innocent people, but Scanlon stops him in his tracks and puts him under house arrest. He worries Gunn's emotions will get him killed, or something along those lines. Bandit then jumps up and complains about how they keep talking about them as if they're not even in the room when they're expected to risk their lives during these undercover operations. They also tell Marciano that he should stay behind cuz he'll just get in the way. "We know the streets, the alley pounders, roof runners, the punk rockers..." Alley pounders? Roof runners? I am so out of the loop with their street talk. I feel so suburban.
Soon they hatch a plan to go undercover so they can find Gunn. Dragon gets a job as Cynthia's house boy and tries to woo her assistant, Pixa. Gaucho and Bandit are sent downtown to "check out the scene and hit the punk bars"... this apparently involves Bandit talking with prostitutes in hopes of scoring a date. I guess it gets lonely for him down in their rainbow room headquarters. Did I mention there's nothing tougher looking than two guys riding on a motorcycle, one of whom is in a little sidecar? You're damned right.
J.T., Tracy, Eagle and Dancer get the best undercover job, because they are forming a new punk rock group. This show is all about punks and punk bars and punk rock and Punky Brewster and PUNKPUNKPUNKPUSAFDNKL;ASFD;LJADF. Punk. So the four of them start practicing their punk rock tunes in hopes of getting Gunn interested in their act. They're eventually led to a building where a gun-toting Mr. Silver Stride is hiding out. It's a very low key building that nobody would notice... well, except for the fact that the building directly across from it has a big rainbow-patterned plane hanging on the side of it. And why not, right?
Silver Stride introduces himself to Tracy and her band as he waves his gun at them, and man does he ever live up to his name... just look at that hair! Tracy smooth talks her way past Stride's angry, gun-pointing exterior, "We'd do anything to be stars............ anything." Oh Tracy, you little punk rock vixen, you! Silver walks behind a nearby curtain and Gunn punches him for allowing those uninvited guests into the building. "Who's that girl? She aced you, Silver. She's got lots of power. Niiiiice. She's just like Fedra, very much like her."
Now what amazes me here is that the Renegades would clearly be able to hear Gunn talking since there's just a raggedy old curtain separating them from him, so why didn't they just bust him right there on the spot?
There's still more madness to
see in episode of The Renegades!
Click here to continue onward to page 2!
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