You won't get to hear that catchy theme song from the original show ("they call him Flipper ... Flipper ..."). With its ocean-sweeping camera and swimsuited babes, male and female, the opening of the newly syndicated Flipper resembles "Baywatch" more than anything else.
You will see bubbly Bud (played by Brian Wimmer) all grown up and working as a dolphin research scientist. And in the updated version, environmental concerns and technology are at the forefront as Bud--now known as Dr. Keith (Bud) Ricks--is "reluctantly" paired with a Navy scientist, Dr. Pam Blondel (Colleen Flynn, who co-starred with Wimmer on ABC's "China Beach" series and in the 1991 feature "Late for Dinner.") The duo research dolphins on a Florida Keys preserve. The first three shows are shot in Florida; in subsequent episodes Australia doubles for the Sunshine State.
Pam has a teen son, Mike (Payton Haas), who on any given day is surlier than young Bud at his worst. Mike befriends local teen Maya (Jessica Alba), described as a "near mermaid."
Mike and Maya take a fancy to a non-research, rogue dolphin whom Mike dubs Flipper--after Bud's favorite childhood pal. This Flipper leaps into contemporary adventures and has already impregnated the captive female dolphin (an angry Mike let her out in the pilot episode).
"Making the concerns ecological was very intentional, as it was a topical and natural outgrowth of what they do," says executive producer Ernie Wallengren ("Life Goes On," "Baywatch," "Falcon Crest"), who adds he was a "huge" fan of the original.
In the original series, which ran from 1964 to 1968 on NBC, Bud's widower dad was a chief ranger protecting both the fish and skin divers in Coral Keys Park, Fla.
The original "Flipper," Wallengren, 42, recalls, "was silly and goofy and dumb, but we wanted the same fun and adventure that was in it, and present it new." The show plans to guest-star actors from the first series this season, he adds.
"Flipper" employs the skills of several live dolphins, in addition to using animated and animatronic versions.
"Flipper" airs Sundays at 6 p.m. and repeats Saturdays at noon on KCAL. For ages 6 and up.
More Family Shows
The young version of Indiana Jones may have left the airwaves two years ago when ABC canceled the series based on the early exploits of the movies' popular adventurer, but cable revives.
Fans can thank the Family Channel for bringing back plucky Indy in four movie versions. Two already aired. The third, Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen, airs Sunday.
"George Lucas' 'Young Indiana Jones' movies have been extremely popular with Family viewers," says Gus Lucas, senior vice president of the network's programming.
"Hawkmen" takes place during the beginning of air combat in World War I. It finds Indy (Sean Patrick Flanery) on an undercover mission to persuade Dutch airplane designer Anthony Fokker (Craig Kelly) to defect from Germany. Shot in Prague, the film is peopled with historical characters.
"Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen" airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and repeats Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Family Channel. For ages 8 and up.
Sara Stanley (Sarah Polley) bids Avonlea (Mondays, 8 p.m. Disney Channel) goodby as she leaves to study in Paris. Polley has indicated a desire to leave the show and finish school. For ages 8 and up.
A young man confronts the secret of his childhood sexual abuse when he suspects his little brother may be suffering the same fate in the rebroadcast of CBS Schoolbreak Special: Big Boys Don't Cry (Tuesday, 3 p.m. CBS). For ages 8 and up.