Classic TV Cheese: V.I.P.

vipFor some reason, back in the 1990s, we all became obsessed with a pneumatic Canadian centerfold named Pamela Anderson. Now, if this happened today, someone would have given her a reality show and she would have gone quietly into the good night.

But we hadn’t crossed the reality bridge yet, and so a marginally (at best) talented piece of eye candy was given a substantial role on a popular TV series (“Baywatch”), her own cinematic star vehicle (“Barb Wire,” which, believe it or not, is a ripoff of “Casablanca” of all things) and eventually, the starring role in her own syndicated TV series, “V.I.P.”

To her credit, Anderson seemed to always realize her limitations, and thus “V.I.P.” was a tongue-in-cheek sendup of action-adventure series. But Anderson’s popularity was strong enough to keep the series on the air for four seasons, which seems downright shocking to me.

But hey, I’ve always had a weakness for cheesy action shows, so I watched it. It always seemed to be on either very late at night or very early in the morning and I didn’t have the energy to change the channel.

The premise was ridiculous: Anderson starred as Vallery Irons, a big-time movie star who accidentally helped save another star’s life. Capitalizing on her exploits, a real bodyguard agency hires Irons to be their front and drum up celebrity business. While she’s supposed to stay in the background, she somehow always winds up getting mixed up in whatever case the team was working on, leading to hijinks and thrills.

The rest of the VIP team included a former CIA agent (Molly Culver), a kickboxing brother who never got any play from any of the hot-ass women that worked there (Shaun Baker), a munitions expert (Natalie Raitano) and a computer nerd (Leah Lail). Later in the series, Dustin Nguyen from “21 Jump Street” joined the team – every time I saw him I wondered if the rest of the people from that show cursed Johnny Depp every night.

The plot followed a pretty standard arc – celebrity client comes to VIP with a problem, the team begins recon, something goes wrong and eventually a last-minute rescue saves the day. Along the way, Anderson would wind up in a skimpy outfit, “high-tech” computer tracking was used, a few kicks were thrown and something would blow up.

What more can you ask for in a throwaway series? I think this Spanish promo for the series just about sums it up.

Two more weird things about this show: it won an Emmy Award, which officially means that any series that manages to last more than 10 episodes will eventually win an Emmy.

vip2And, further validating the theory that every crappy TV show or movie gets the full multimedia treatment, there was a “V.I.P.” video game! What better way to introduce your youngster to the boobtastic stylings of Pamela Anderson than on his Gameboy Color?

Alas, “V.I.P.” went to the great TV syndication heaven in 2002, but not before Anderson contracted hepatitis and became an internet legend for her sex tape with then husband Tommy Lee.

As for the rest of the “V.I.P.” crew, well, most of them have faded into Bolivian to quote the great Mike Tyson, but I have recently started seeing Culver again, as she pops up as the spoiled wife in the Chase Sapphire commercials.

Ah, the 90s were a simpler time – all you needed was big boobs to make it. Sorry Pam, you’ve got to bring something new to the table if you want to make a comeback.

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~ by Elliott on September 29, 2009.

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