It's a classic formula used all the time that never goes wrong- a boy and his loyal pet dolphin. Okay... it actually is sort of different. The original Flipper series from the 60's is a kids' classic. Who wouldn't want to imagine having a dolphin buddy?
Based on a theatrical film, the TV show centered on Ranger Porter Ricks and his sons Sandy and Bud. Ranger Ricks worked at the Coral Key National Park in Florida watching after the oceans. It was cool. Ranger Ricks had a kick ass swamp boat. You know, the ones with the huge fan propeller on the back. Excellent! Well he and his sons also had a "pet" dolphin the boys named Flipper. In point of fact, flipper wasn't exactly owned by the Ricks family. He came and went as he pleased since he was a wild animal. He was more of a voluntary pet. Every episode you got to see Bud, Sandy and Flipper in a light adventure for a half hour. Then, if your station was like mine, you'd watch Gentle Ben, the story of a boy and his pet HUGE KILLER BEAR! Heheh.
Well never let it be said Hollywood could ignore a potential franchise. By the mid 1990's Flipper was still kicking in syndicated reruns and as popular as ever with kids. So it only made sense to try and bring it back. Two separate Flipper projects went into production.
The first was a new Flipper feature film starring Elijah Woods as Sandy Ricks and Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan as the uncle Sandy is staying with. It threw out the continuity of the original series and started from scratch - new Sandy, new situation...
The second was a new syndicated Flipper TV series that did stick with the original show. The new show brought back Bud Ricks as an adult (and played by a different actor) now a scientist doing marine research in Florida. The Flipper in this series was not supposed to be the same dolphin. Rather, one of the younger characters (gotta have youngsters - its a boy and his dolphin show) named one of the dolphins Dr. Ricks was working with after the original Flipper. Instead of a half hour, the new Flipper was a full hour. It wasn't just a kids show either. In the day and age of ecological awareness, it also worked as a sort of eco-drama.
The new Flipper started taking after the Lassie series. On Lassie, the pooch Lassie went through owner after owner as the series went along and actors came and went. Flipper did the same thing. After the first year, almost the entire cast was replaced. Then the show got canceled and a year later returned on the PAX network. PAX was a family friendly, religious network. They brought Flipper back and, again, most of the cast was replaced. Hey, the show was gone for a year. Actors gotta eat so I'm guessing while the show was off most of them moved on to other projects. But they still had the dolphin and as long as a flipper show has a dolphin it's hard for it to go wrong!
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