MILESAGO - Television
PRODUCTION CO.: Network 7-Artransa Park-Trans Pacific Entertainment
CREATOR: Michael Noonan (from an idea by Guy V. Thayer Jr)
Episode casts included:
PREMIERE: 6 February 1969
Riptide was created by expatriate Australian writer Michael Noonan, from an idea by the program's executive producer, Guy V. Thayer Jr, President and General Manager of Trans Pacific Enterprises. It was filmed in and around Pittwater in Sydney, and was the first locally-made one-hour series to be shot entirely in colour, although it was not the first colour series -- the earlier half-hour series The Adventures Of Long John Silver and The Adventures of the Seaspray had both been shot in colour.
The show's imported American star, Ty Hardin, was born in Texas in 1930. His real name was Orison Whipple Hungerford, Jr; he was given the nickname Ty (short for typhoon) by his grandmother. After a stint in the military, including service in Korea and Germany, Hardin went to work as an acoustic engineer at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica California. He became an actor thanks a classic Hollywood fluke -- he was spotted by a Paramount talent scout while hiring a costume for a Halloween party.
Prior to Riptide, he worked extensively in film and TV in Hollywood. He made six films for Paramount and eight for Warner Bros, including roles in I Married A Monster From Outer Space, The Buccaneer, The Chapman Report, Palm Springs Weekend, Wall Of Noise, Battle of the Bulge, Merrill's Marauders; his best known film role was a co-starring spot with Cliff Robertson in the JFK biopic PT 109.
On TV, he made his name starring in the western series Bronco Layne which ran for four years, and he also appeared in Cheyenne, Playhouse 90, 77 Sunset Strip and Maverick. He left Hollywood in the mid-Sixties and made several "spaghetti westerns" in Europe. In later years Hardin appeared in The Quest (with Kurt Russell, and for which he received an Emmy 'best supporting actor' nomination), The Love Boat and The Young & The Restless. According to IMDb, Hardin became involved in a right-wing anti-Semitic "Christian patriot" group in Arizona in the 70s, which was later investigated by the FBI. Now retired from film work, Hardin runs his own church as a preacher in Prescott, Arizona. He has been married four times; his third wife, Marlene Schmidt, was Miss Universe 1961. His granddaughter is the actress Camryn Walling.
The producers had already selected Hardin for the lead before production commenced. Interestingly, he was a stockholder one of the first Australian-made TV series, Whiplash, which had also starred an imported American actor, Peter Graves. The rest of Riptide cast were all Australian and as the list above indicates, the various episodes featured a "Who's Who' of Aussie actors of the period including Aussie screen legend Chips Rafferty, John Meillon, Crawford alumni Lex Mitchell and Norman Yemm, stage star Owen Weingott, veteran actresses Neva-Carr Glyn and Enid Lorimer and many others who starred in series such as Delta, Bellbird and Number 96. Also among the supporting cast were actors Sandy Harbutt, Helen Morse and Ken Shorter, who would later collaborate on Stone.
Hardin played Moss Andrews, an American business executive whose Australian wife has been killed in a car crash. After her death Moss takes leave from his job and sails to Australia on his own. In the first episode he decides to leave his job and stay in Sydney to help his father-in-law Barney Duncan (Christensen) run his Pittwater charter boat business (imaginatively named 'Charter Boat' -- the original title of the series). To assist them, Moss hires medical student Neil Winton (Sweet) and his girlfriend Judy (Costin). The 26 episodes depict the various adventures Moss and his friends encounter while running the business.
Character continuity was one of several problems that beset the series. Chris Christensen died during production so his absence in later episodes had to be explained away by saying he had retired. Support actors Sweet and Costin appeared until Episodes 11 and 9 respectively but then their roles were dropped due to budget cuts; Sweet's character was written out by saying he had gone back to his medical studies, but Costin's absence was never explained. According to IMDb, Costin later took her own life, but the date and circumstances of her death are not known.
Production on Riptide commenced on 27 November 1967. Budgets were very high by Australian standards of the day -- TV historian Don Storey suggests a figure of $70-80,000 per episode. By comparison, Crawford's action series Hunter cost about $20,000 per episode and Homicide even less. Most of the producers, directors and writers were overseas imports, sourced mainly from Britain, and included Ralph Smart, Robert Banks Stewart, Jeremy Summers and Peter Maxwell. All had previously worked on leading British series Danger Man and The Avengers.
Riptide premiered on 6 February 1969 and rated strongly in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, but was less popular in Melbourne, where Homicide still ruled the roost. The big budgets and eye-catching locations ensured that it was good to look at, but the colour production was lost on Aussie viewers, who had to wait another six years before colour TV finally arrived. Unfortunately, neither the budget nor the imported crew translated to a top-quality product, and as the series progressed Riptide came in for strong criticism, especially for its poor scripting.
The main hope was securing overseas sales, but unfortunately the critical sale to American TV never eventuated, and although it was sold to Britain it did not rate well there, so plans for a second series were scrapped. It was evidently also sold to Germany, where it screened under the title SOS Charterboot.
According to Don Storey, local writer Ron McLean (Spyforce, Silent Number) has claimed that he got his start as a writer on Riptide, although he is not credited by name. Storey seems dubious about McLean's assertion and it is made less likely because the use of imported writers on Riptide incurred the particular ire of the Australian Writers' Guild, who took issue with the series and strenuously lobbied the producers and ATN-7 over their refusal to use local writers. The Guild demanded that 50% of the Riptide scripts should be written by Australian writers. Their campaign was unsuccessful in that case, but it did establish a precedent for the use of Australian writers for locally produced series.
For a full history of Riptide, we heartily recommend Don Storey's superb "Classic Australian Television" website, which has a comprehensive account of the making of the series, a full episode guide and numerous photos. For more on Ty Hardin, you can visit his official website.
|REFERENCES / LINKS|
The Official Ty Hardin Website
Internet Movie Database