Rembert Explains the ’80s: Airwolf

Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the ’80s. Every so often, we’ll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Hollywood Prospectus editor Mark Lisanti: Airwolf. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’80s, e-mail us at

0:01 What is Airwolf? I don’t know, but I like this title, “Daddy’s Gone a Hunt’n.”

0:09 Two helicopter pilots. The older actor is familiar, but I can’t figure out from where because they’ve got helmets on. Also, what is an “Airwolf”?

0:19 Slow start, gentlemen. Why aren’t you shooting things out of the air yet? Where are the aliens?

0:24 This is about as boring as Flight Simulator so far. Do better, Airwolf.

0:25 I know it’s “Airwolf,” but I keep typing “Airwalk” because that’s the best brand ever, right?

0:34 Whoa, something’s happening on the screen.



I can’t tell if they’re about to attack or in a ton of trouble. I also don’t really know what is going on in this show. I’ll give it time, though. WHO IS THAT OLD MAN?

1:15 After some dialogue about God knows what, the cool, young pilot shoots a missile through the air. Please hit something so I can be excited, because right now I’m bored. You’re down here:

But I need you up here:

Thanks in advance.

1:19 There’s been more helicopter and plane noises than words spoken. This is weird. This was definitely on at two on Saturday afternoons during the summer months. That’s the only time slot that can get away with stuff like this.

1:25 Cool pilot guy just turned up a horrible noise that temporarily deafened some people. Who these people are, I don’t know, but one is to assume they’re anti-American villains.

1:38 And now, without warning, the camera has gone to video game first-person view, which is making me dizzy. Where’s the love story in this? I couldn’t be less emotionally invested, which is something seeing as that I’m currently emotionally invested in such inanimate objects as Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee and my almost-broken USB cord.

1:45 Uh-oh, triumphant music, is that you I hear? Is something, dare I say, about to happen? That’d be wonderful, seeing as this clip is already almost halfway done.

1:52 YES. ACTION. People are trying to shoot our boys down. You know, like this crazy guy:

And this guy with the cool hat:

Oh, and especially this cannon:

Who these people are, again, no clue. But that’s OK. I’m really hoping we’re about to find out.

2:05 Still don’t know, but now the helicopter with our two heroes inside is shooting at everyone else while trying to land the vehicle.

2:24 Our main guy, once he brings the helicopter to the ground, seems unfazed by the opposition:

He’s maneuvering the helicopter with the ease of a remote-control car, shooting anyone in his eyesight. Bye-bye, tank with human inside:

Bye-bye, cannon with person next to it:

I still have no idea what’s going on.

2:41 The other copilot runs out of the helicopter. Who are you, semi-familiar man? Take off your helmet, will you? I don’t know where he’s going, but he looks scared.

2:52 There was just a shootout between the copilot old guy and two other dudes. I guess it was exciting, if you ignore the fact that the guns made no noise. Outside of that, so intense.

2:57 Shut up, they’re doing all this to rescue some little kid:

I’m not sure how I feel like this. He’s got those crazy eyes, that alien jawline, and a jacket with a fur hood. It might have been wiser to just leave him there, copilot.

2:59 Oh, OK. I recognize that gap. Silly me.

Thank you, McHale’s Navy reruns. Now I can stop calling him “old copilot guy” and pay my respects. It’s Ernest Borgnine (R.I.P.). Now I get why I’m watching this.

3:12 Back outdoors to our brave, non-Ernest helicopter shooter, who (accompanied by heroic music) is just dominating the shootout.

3:22 The kid and Ernest are back in the helicopter. This kid better know some war secrets or be someone’s son. Those are the only two options, or this was a waste of a mission.

3:28 Our favorite crazy guy is back, this time trying to take on this helicopter by himself:

He looks like a certain member of the Channel 4 News Team …

This plan isn’t working for him, which leads to one of the most anticlimactic standoffs I’ve ever witnessed. For 10 seconds, the helicopter is slowly moving forward while the bad guy is slowly backpedaling. And then the big climax is the helicopter slowly taking off. He doesn’t even get his head chopped off by the blades or anything.

You have to watch it. Pictures won’t do it justice. It’s so bad.

4:11 It ends with the helicopter taking off and the man just standing there. That’s it.

Out of respect for Mr. Borgnine, I’m going to say this was an enjoyable experience. With that said, had I watched this two weeks ago, I probably would have purposely poured a coffee on my laptop.

[Editor’s note: He got all the way through this without mentioning the name “Jan-Michael Vincent” even once. I’m impressed.]

Filed Under: Rembert Explains

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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