RENEGADE Lorenzo Lamas

RENEGADE. Pilot episode: 19 September 1992. Syndicated: Stu Segall Productions / Stephen J. Cannell Productions. Cast: Lorenzo Lamas, Branscombe Richmond, Kathleen Kinmont, Stephen J. Cannell. Theme by Mike Post. Created and Written by Stephen J. Cannell. Executive Producers: Nick Corea and Stu Segall. Director: Ralph Hemecker.

    Sometime after Stephen J. Cannell’s masterpiece, The Rockford Files went off the air Cannell developed a fervent case of TV cheesiness. Renegade represents one of his best efforts in TV cheese, and offered classic dialog such as when Val says to Reno, “Sometimes you seem so sad, I wish I could cry for you.”

    The story maintains this Kraft quality style. Reno is in love and has agreed to give up police work and marry the big-breasted Val. But he has one last case, a favor for an old friend (two clichés in one sentence, you know this will not end good), he goes undercover in Bay City (Cannell’s favorite fictional city) and finds cops on the take and involved in murder for hire.

RENEGADE Lorenzo Lamas

    Evil Police Lt. “Dutch” Dixon orders his henchman Sergeant to kill Reno. The Sergeant goes to the conveniently located prison and they release Hog to the Sergeant. So what that Hog is serving life for murder, the Sergeant (who is alone) says its necessary.

    Hog wants to kill Reno, the man who had put him in jail and hurt his brother. Bad cop Sergeant sets Hog after Reno, but Val is shot instead, and Hog escapes. Remo rushes Val to the hospital. Dixon arrives and kills the Sergeant, his bff for ten years. He faces him and shoots him twice with Reno’s gun. But, according to the later TV news report, the body was found handcuffed (Reno’s) and killed “execution style” (which I understand to mean shot in the back of the head, not from across the room).

    The frame is on. Reno doesn’t want to leave Val, who is now brain dead but kept alive on machines in a hospital. However, Reno needs to get away from the cops while making enough money so he can pay Val’s hospital bills (viewers who might remember that Val has a brother who owns a construction company are paying far too much attention).

RENEGADE Lorenzo Lamas

    Dixon hires Bobby, the world’s best smart-ass Native American bounty hunter, to find Reno. Computer expert and Bobby’s white blonde big-breasted sister Cheyenne tags along.

    Reno chases Hog. Bobby and Cheyenne chases Reno. Reno catches Hog. Bobby catches Reno and Hog. Reno escapes Bobby, who refuses to stop telling bad Indian jokes. Hog’s biker friends attack Bobby and Cheyenne. Reno returns and saves Bobby. Meanwhile, Cheyenne is taken by the bikers, who are proper gentlemen and just tie her up. Reno and Bobby bond and rescue Cheyenne.

    Thus the premise of Renegade is set up. Reno is on the run wanted for murder. He will catch wanted criminals and turn them over to Bobby to collect the rewards. Bobby, after his cut, sends the reward money to the hospital to make sure the docs keep Val alive. Meanwhile, Dixon lurks evilly in the background.

    Lamas portrays Reno as a man with great pecs and hair. Richmond has the charm to make smug Bobby a likeable character. Stephen J. Cannell as Lt. “Dutch” Dixon is surprisingly good as the evil villain. For Renegade, Cannell was better in front of the camera than he was behind it.

    Auteur Ralph Hemecker’s vision properly favors boobs (females and Lamas’s chest) and hokey macho camera shots. My favorite was when Reno and Bobby prepare to rescue Cheyenne. Bobby and Reno stand alone in the shot staring into each other’s eyes in a true macho bro moment. Bobby cocks his shotgun and says, “Let’s do it, friend.” And the two stride off camera.

    The pilot episode’s opening theme tells us Val is shot before we see her shot in the story. Yes, the theme song is a spoiler of its own story, but if you are paying enough attention to notice, you are watching the wrong show.

    Renegade was syndicated until its fifth and final season when it moved to USA network. With the growing success of cable in the 90s, the market for TV syndication of first run series increased. Renegade was the ideal entertainment for a lazy weekend afternoon.

    Vapid, mind numbing television with all the necessary elements, half naked beautiful women and men, mindless action (chases and fights), silly humor, and a pure evil villain versus a persecuted good-guy hero, all combined for a simple and satisfying way to spend sixty minutes on a slow weekend afternoon.

    Available to view on DVD and various downloading sites.

RENEGADE Lorenzo Lamas