Stingray (pilot)

episode number: season 1, episode 1 (1985)
viewing setting: home DVD, 6/27/11

series premise: Ray, who lives in Southern California, devotes his time to helping people in trouble. His background is shadowy; all that is known about him is that he advertises surreptitiously in newspapers, ostensibly offering a "'65 black Stingray, for barter only to right party" and including a telephone number. Those wishing to enlist his services, presumably having learned the ad's real meaning by word of mouth, can call him for help. It is not clear if "Ray" is even his real name, or if simply a nickname he has taken on based on the car he drives, the same one described in the advertisement. Ray does not charge money for his help; instead, he extracts a promise from his client in advance that the client will repay Ray in the future by performing a favor, perhaps easy, perhaps difficult, upon Ray's request. These owed favors allow him to call upon a variety of past clients during the series to help his current clients. Ray possesses a variety of skills typical of a spy or secret agent, among them martial arts, driving, weapons, lockpicking, photographic memory, disguises, and computer skills (that last was a big deal in the mid-1980s!)

episode synopsis: A Mexican drug lord is now in the U.S., using electric shock therapy to eliminate his enemies. One of his victims is a district attorney, and the man's assistant D.A. turns to Ray for assistance.

impressions: It's a good pilot, introducing the character and the concept for the show. There's a fair bit of build-up which reminded me of Miami Vice, and some cool 1980s-style music. No computer wizardry in this episode, though Ray does bed the girl, which didn't usually happen later on.

notable guest stars: Robyn Douglass is the assistant D.A. Susan Blakely is a wife/victim of the bad guys. Gregory Sierra is the drug lord.

cool actions and tactics: Ray fools some guards into thinking he's still in this room, avoids a series of security devices, beats several bad guys in hand-to-hand combat, drives a car skillfully enough to avoid a helicopter and then cause it to crash, plants a taser under a chair in which he is later held captive, and defeats a 7-foot bodyguard using martial arts.

Ray: "Okay, I'll tell you this much. The world _runs_ on money. Everybody walks around with this invisible number in their heads. You hit the figure close enough, the penny drops, you own the man. In Hong Kong you can buy a murder for five bucks. In New York City a sloppy job runs you five hundred. A neat, clean, professional hit, upwards of ten grand. On skid row they'll kill you for your shoes. I take money _out_ of the equation. My hands don't sweat, because I'm never at the pay window."

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