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Season 1 Episode 1

Stingray (1)

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Jul 14, 1985 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
16 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Stingray (1)
An attractive district attorney asks Ray for help in dealing with a Mexican crime lord responsible for kidnapping and brainwashing several prominent people.

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  • When a Mexican crime kingpin plans to move his operation into L.A., and begins brainwashing those who stand in his way, a district attorney asks mysterious "Stingray" for help after her colleague is one of those who loses his mind. An intriguing Pilot...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    For those who ever saw the series, 'Stingray' is generally held in very high regard. But here in the U.K., I'm not sure if the series was ever shown. If it ever was, it was only by very select ITV regions; not sure if $ky ever touched it or not. Either way, this is one series that I had never actually seen before now.

    I am a huge fan of both cult TV (especially 1980s), and of series creator Stephen J. Cannell, and after seeing most of my other favourites from that era over and over (literally knowing every word in some cases), I decided to look around for something new to enjoy. With both the premise and the Cannell stamp of quality (I'm a big fan of nearly all of his shows), as well as it's highly held status in fan communities, I decided to give 'Stingray' a go, and purchased the complete DVD set.

    An extra point of interest, for me, was that this was the series that Cannell originally proposed to Brandon Tartikoff and NBC in 1982, but Tartikoff gave him and writing partner Frank Lupo a concept called 'The A-Team' to work with instead. 'The A-Team' is my all-time favourite TV show (I even run my own detailed fan site about it... I must update that sometime!!), so I was intrigued to see what this originally pitched idea was all about.

    I found the whole premise of the series, as introduced here in the Pilot, to be very interesting. Nick Mancuso plays the mysterious, nameless 'Stingray', named after his black 1965 Corvette Stingray. (Cannell must have had a thing about Corvettes – The Faceman in 'The A-Team' and Nick in 'Riptide' also drove Corvettes!) I love how 'Ray' (the most we ever get to know the character as) is just so darned unfathomable; no certain past... we know nothing about him.

    One thing that immediately stuck me, that – as with many such TV shows at the time – the style of production is so clearly influenced by 'Miami Vice'. The filming style, the fast-paced editing, the style of music, everything about it.

    Talking of music, I can't say that the main theme is one of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter (long-time collaborators with Cannell)'s best ever pieces, but I suppose the later sections aren't too bad, and I think it will grow on me.

    Anyway, while I didn't mind the heavy 'Miami Vice' influences, I did find the first stages of the story (with crime lord Tony Mendoza arriving in L.A., and frying his first subject's brain) a bit too much "style over substance", with the fast editing and stylised shots, to the point I found it a bit hard to totally work out what was going on. This took up most of the first 15 minutes, and almost started to annoy me a bit. Thankfully, after this, things swiftly pick up, and made up for this awkward start; the rest of this first part plays out very nicely.

    The episode has some good action sequences – the highlight being the helicopter chasing the Stingray – but also some nice dialogue.

    As the drug kingpin Mendoza, Gregory Sierra gives off a real air of menace, and is the best of the story's guest cast. Incidentally, the episode has yet more echoes of 'Miami Vice', as Sierra played the original Lieutenant, Rodriguez, in that series – before being killed off in the fourth episode.

    The only slight drawback, in terms of my viewing this episode, is that the version of the Pilot of the DVD is the two-part version, and as such, several scenes are removed for timing reasons. Apparently this is due to the DVDs using episodes that were remastered for syndication, and the original feature-length version was never remastered. Sadly, slightly "smaller" (so to speak) TV releases on DVD sometimes suffer from such issues.

    Anyway, in all, I found this to be a very decent opening part to the Pilot. The over-stylised first few minutes, and the very odd moment when the pace drops, hold it back slightly, (oh, and that bit at the end where Ray and Daphne suddenly end up in bed seemed to come out of NOWHERE) but I still give this opening part a respectable 9/10.

    Review continued in Part II...moreless
  • A mexican drug kingpin is muscling his way into L.A. after cornering the market in Latin America. No one can stop him, not even the Mafia. So who do you call when you can\'t call the police? Stingray!moreless


    Looking at this episode again after a very long time, I can see how cliche and hokey some of the performances were in this pilot. But Nick Mancuso is the man! His flippant style, quick retorts, and dark witticisms were just perfect for the part and makes up for all the subpar acting, propelling the show up a bunch of notches. It\'s like the rest of the actors including guest star Susan Blakely, were beneath him.

    The premise of the show and some background on the mysterious and anonymous \"dark knight\", are developed in this 2-hour pilot and it will set the stage for the rest of the series regarding how he will operate. Basically, he\'s not doing what he does for money. His only payment is a favor in kind. That is, he can show up any day and at any time to collect his favor, and the people who have been helped in the past are usually more than happy to return it (although some are reticent, but are usually glad to have their slate finally wiped clean). This is what made show\'s concept brilliant in my mind.

    Like any Lone Ranger, our protagonist anti-hero has a Tonto - his disabled ex-Vietnam War buddy who he shares nightmares with after they were held together in a POW camp so many years ago, and his friend works the streets for him when critical info is needed.

    As one of the ubiquitous Stephen J. Cannell productions, my main criticism is that the look and feel of the show attempted to mirror that of NBC\'s other very popular high-style crime show that was still on the air then - Miami Vice, except this took show takes place in Los Angeles. I suppose copying is a sincere form of flattery, but the main character is his own man and no Sonny Crockett.

    All in all, a show that was cancelled before its time and it was good to see the under-appreciated Nick Mancuso do his thing!moreless
Michael Fairman

Michael Fairman

Dr. Rosenberg

Guest Star

Robyn Douglass

Robyn Douglass

Daphne Delgado

Guest Star

Susan Blakely

Susan Blakely

Evelyn Decter

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Daphne: Are you... I mean, do people call you Stingray?
      Ray: I hope not.

    • Daphne: He wanted me to give you this message. He said it was a matter of life or death. Maybe the life or death of thirty people.
      Ray: Well, that's... that's some message. I mean, you--you can go a whole year and not get a message like that.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Originally aired as part of a 120-minute TV movie.

    • The 120-minute TV movie re-aired on Tuesday, March 4, 1986, one week prior to the official start of the season.

    • The two-part version, as included on DVD releases, is slightly edited to fit the two-part time slot, and several scenes (such as Nick practicing Tai Chi) are removed. This is due to the DVD version using episode prints remastered for U.S. syndication; these were the only copies available for the DVD version, as the original 120-minute version was not remastered.