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Case Number 11351

Buy Flipper: The Original Series: Season 1 at Amazon

Flipper: The Original Series: Season 1

Fox // 1964 // 690 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // May 9th, 2007

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All Rise...

And we know Judge Cynthia Boris lives in a world full of wonder, clicking there on the remote, on the remote of her DVD!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Flipper (1963) (published September 20th, 2004) and Flipper's New Adventure (published September 20th, 2004) are also available.

The Charge

"Flipper, I think you're best lifeguard there ever is, so does Dad and Sandy, but we gotta show them that us dolphins are smarter than people!" Bud to Flipper, who's not all that interested in performing a rescue on cue

Opening Statement

Everyone loves the king of the sea,
Ever so kind and gentle is he,
Tricks he will do when children appear,
And how they laugh when he's near!

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No one, you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there—under, under the sea!

Facts of the Case

Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly) is a ranger in the Coral Key Park in Florida. A single parent (like so many Sixties TV dads), he lives in the park with his sons, 15-year-old Sandy (Luke Halpin) and 10-year-old Bud (Tommy Norden), and Bud's pet dolphin, Flipper! Week after week, the foursome ban together to keep the park safe for visitors, whether battling poachers, poisonous fish, or killer sharks. From daring undersea rescues to hunts for buried treasure, there's always an adventure to be had when Flipper's around in Flipper—The Original Series, Season 1

The Evidence

Flipper is a half-hour family adventure tale reminiscent of the old Disney nature films. The series was the brainchild of Ricou Browning, a.k.a. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Browning worked as an underwater sequence supervisor on such projects as Sea Hunt and Thunderball, but it was his encounter with several trained dolphins started him thinking. The result: a book he called Lassie with dolphins, Flipper.

Browning's Sea Hunt producer Ivan Tors took the book to MGM and secured financing for a major motion picture. Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) was cast as Porter Ricks and Luke Halpin took on the role of his son Sandy.

Flipper was played by Mitzi, a dolphin Browning found at Santini's Porpoise School in the Florida Keys. With a little extra help from Browning, Mitzi learned to interact with Browning's young son, even allowing the boy to ride on her back. The movie was a great success, followed closely by a second and, finally, a series pick up from NBC.

It was 1964 and NBC had just switched its programming to an all-color format. That meant that Flipper could play in a crystal clear blue-green ocean, leap across a pristine blue sky, and chatter wildly at those orange and pink bathing suits that were all the rage.

Brian Kelly replaced Chuck Connors as the handsome and fatherly park ranger. Sadly, the series would be Kelly's last big break as his career was cut short by a motorcycle accident in 1970 that left him partially paralyzed. Luke Halpin was back as older son Sandy, a real teen heartthrob with his athletic build and surfer dude looks. Tommy Norden, a freckle-faced kid next-door, was cast as the youngest son and main source of interaction with Flipper.

The role of Flipper was handled by several dolphins who, together, were able to perform almost 50 tricks. Flipper could "walk" on her tail (a truly amazing site), fetch items underwater, carry items balanced only on her nose, leap up and over a person in the water, and use her nose like a battering ram to ward off sharks. I imagine that today, many of these sequences would be done with digital effects or animation but, in 1964, it was all done with dolphin, trainer, and some creative editing.

I was surprised to see that the show doesn't look at all dated. Sure the bathing suits on the girls are out of fashion and the cars are a dead giveaway, but many of the sequences look like they were filmed last week, not 40 years ago. The underwater photography in this series is as good as anything you'll see on TV today and there's a lot of it. Every episode is filled with amazing footage of graceful sea creatures and beautifully sculpted reefs. You'll also find plenty of danger in the form of sharks, alligators, and beasts of the two-legged kind.

Actually, all of the footage in this series is crystal clear and cinematic in quality and even though it's a mono soundtrack you won't notice. What you will notice is a lovely balance of birdcalls, dolphin chatter, orchestral incidental music, and human interaction. It's a symphony made by Mother Nature herself, which is elegantly played out on this DVD set.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I only have two minor complaints about this set. One is the use of double-sided discs, a real pet peeve of mine. The other is the lack of special features. The Flipper trivia quiz just doesn't cut it for me.

Closing Statement

Flipper is a truly enjoyable change of pace from the fast-paced, ultra-violent adventure series on TV today. The gorgeous photography will draw you in and the animal antics will have the kids on the couch right beside you. This is a program the whole family can enjoy. It has excitement, heart, fun, and children who are industrious and well-mannered. How rare is that?

The Verdict

This court will announce its decision as soon as Flipper comes back with that gavel! Show off.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 90
Extras: 5
Acting: 89
Story: 85
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 690 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Classic
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Flipper Trivia Game








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