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James Brolin and Catherine Bach in “White Water Rebels”
On January 8, 1983, CBS aired an exhilarating adventure drama that left a lasting impression. The telefilm featured James Brolin in the lead role as a rebellious white water kayaker, a somewhat unexpected but captivating choice of character. His character, an individual who defied the rules, took on the daring mission of illegally navigating a river to protest its exploitation by a greedy corporation. Adding depth to the story, Catherine Bach portrayed a compassionate freelance photojournalist who became entangled in this high-stakes adventure.
There was no subtlety in the messaging of this 1980s gem. The narrative unapologetically pitted our protagonists against an unscrupulous dam developer, brought to life by the talented Richard Lynch. As the story unfolded, the tension escalated, and the characters found themselves on an inevitable collision course.
The climax of the telefilm was a breathtaking white water chase scene, a thrilling spectacle that featured the villains in ominous black boats—a visual metaphor that couldn't be more "on the nose." To truly appreciate the spectacle, one had to witness it firsthand. It was, in a word, "dam" good fun, and the clever wordplay is duly noted.
For those who tuned in to their televisions in the early months of 1983, this film must have been irresistible.
Reflecting on this type of film, it's evident that it held a special allure, especially for a younger audience. The idea of becoming a renegade, particularly one based around kayaking, must have seemed immensely appealing. However, as you humorously point out, not everyone is a natural in a kayak. So, over 35 years later, you continue to live vicariously through James Brolin's daring exploits on the water—an enduring connection to a thrilling adventure from the past.