The 90s was somewhat of a golden age of obscure, unique television. From sitcoms, to drama, to action adventure shows, crazy TV was everywhere. Thunder In Paradise is one of those crazy shows that could have only ever existed in the 90s.
The Decision to do a series review of Thunder In Paradise hit me like a tropical storm. Yes, I made a pun, but this show is as close as you can get to making an entire TV series out of nothing but puns. I remember when the show aired, although I don’t remember much of it in detail. It’s along the same lines as Knight Rider, Airwolf, and The A-Team. Plus it had the Hulkster! Starring Terry “Hulk” Hogan, and Chris Lemon, the show follows the lives of ex-Navy Seals as they take jobs defeating nefarious characters using their military skills, and a technologically advanced speedboat named (what else could it be called?) Thunder.
At first glance Thunder In Paradise is easily forgettable. With only one season to talk about there might not be enough meat for the average binge-watcher to chew through. However, if there’s ever a crazy show to sink your teeth into it’s Thunder In Paradise. It’s a genre-bending, quintessentially 90s cheese-fest. Simultaneously everything bad, and everything good with TV from the decade. Woefully awful, yet surprisingly easy to forgive. Almost every plot twist, and line of dialogue is predictable, but that somehow doesn’t hurt. It’s just hard to not enjoy.
The show is a strange mix of weekly action crime drama, after school special, and Baywatch. With a weaponized speedboat that’s bigger on the inside, frequent arm wrestling challenges, a corrupted nun, literally “the Predator”, and some good old fashioned ethnic stereotypes, Thunder In Paradise is so much more watchable than it has any right to be.
It has montages that last uncomfortably long, often focusing on the same shots of Thunder “fast-forwarding” across the water, or gratuitous videos of bikini-clad babes slow-motion frolicking across the beach. There’s even a recurring support cast of 80s wrestling icons, including Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, and “The Mouth of the South” Jimmie Hart.
Chris Lemmon is the highlight of the series. He’s often hilarious, whether intentionally or not. Hulk Hogan’s performance falls somewhere between Suburban Commando, and Mr. Nanny. The rest of the supporting cast is good enough to not get in the way. And the addition of Sting as the series’ recurring villain is so laughable it’s somehow endearing. Yes, Thunder In paradise is bad, but it’s so bad it’s good. I never liked that phrase because it’s often applied to things I honestly do enjoy, but with Thunder In Paradise’s it absolutely applies.
The whole series is out there, but watch out for the three “TV Movies” that were only just two-part episodes re-packaged. The season is long enough to enjoy the characters just to the point of being a little upset when it ends. You really shouldn’t enjoy Thunder In Paradise, but if you’re a fan of nostalgic 90s TV this just might be the missing piece to your collection!