Inspired by the excellent mockumentary series Hoff the Record, Pete Douglas explains why it’s time to welcome The Hoff back into your life.
Like so many 80’s kids I was big into Knight Rider. What wasn’t to like? There was the car – a talking, driverless, artificially intelligent, black Pontiac Trans-Am named KITT– some marvelously cheesy plotlines, that damned catchy synth-based intro music (Busta Rhymes knew it was onto something good), and of course Michael Knight himself.
He was a lone crusader in a dangerous world, and proof positive that one man really could make a difference. Of course, he was played by none other than the mighty David Hasselhoff.
Michael Knight was all black leather jackets, too-tight jeans, flashing white smiles and absurd heroics, carried out while keeping his fantastic bouffant in perfect place. I was so in love with the show that I even had a Hot Wheels version of KITT and a mack truck I could drive it into just like on the telly. My Dad was a working musician, and when he’d ask me what I wanted him to play on the piano at home I would ask for the Knight Rider theme song, much to his disgust.
The Hoff then went on to star as Mitch Buchannan in Baywatch – an unbelievably successful and really quite terrible show, which was a thinly veiled excuse to parade its stars around in red swimsuits. The plots rank amongst the worst television of all time. One episode was wittily titled ‘Eel Nino’ and ended with The Hoff electrocuting a giant murderous electric eel with a defibrillator.
The show was the longest running in the U.S. to never receive an Emmy Award. In his role as executive producer, Hoff maintains he was the only one actually pushing for what little plot that did exist on the show, tucked away among the slow motion shots of various actresses and actors running down the beach.
Also in The Hoff’s favour during this era was that he sung the incredibly touching Baywatch closing credit song ‘Current of Love’.
Since those days, The Hoff has been seen as a bit of a parody of himself, with gigs on various talent shows and headlines about his sobriety (eating burgers off the floor) regularly doing the rounds.
Whereas many baby boomer has-beens can get a bit grumpy about their fading fortunes (see: all the male members of the Brat Pack, barring Rob Lowe), The Hoff has decided to get in on the joke via his great BBC mockumentary series Hoff the Record. The premise is basically one of art imitating life, with The Hoff suffering from (only slightly) exaggerated divorces and financial troubles, fleeing Hollywood to the UK to try and resurrect his flailing career.
The Hoff fully embraces the down-on-his-luck character in the show – in the first episode he can’t even successfully audition to get any of the parts in a movie depicting David Hasselhoff at seven different ages of his life. Later on he ends up cluelessly flailing on live radio while trying to defend sexist remarks he has made to a prominent female writer who penned a book titled The 80’s Dinosaur: The Backward Attitude of the Baby Boomer Generation. All the while, somehow he keeps his assured smile and unshakeable confidence that another worldwide success is just around the corner.
One of the best things about Hoff the Record is the sly references it makes to events in The Hoff’s real life history. It proves that there are many reasons to respect and appreciate The Hoff that might not be immediately apparent to the casual observer.
1) He brought down the Berlin Wall
While the Berlin Wall had started to be broken down during November of 1989, The Hoff really put the boot into it the following month, when performing his massive hit ‘Looking for Freedom’ on New Year’s Eve from atop The Wall. The song was number one on the German charts for eight weeks prior to The Wall’s final demise.
This should be no surprise really, how could communism in Eastern Europe possibly survive a keyboard scarf and flashing jacket like that?
2) He saved Spongebob’s life
On the first episode of Hoff the Record, The Hoff notes that he’s never felt truly alive since he saved Spongebob’s life. He’s referring to the crucial role he plays in a quite amazing scene from that modern masterpiece of children’s cinema – The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. You done good Hasselhoff, you done good indeed.
3) He holds Multiple Guinness World Records for some reason
The Hoff holds the Guinness records for being the most watched star in the history of television, and perhaps even more impressively for the longest reverse bungy in the World, ever. Who wouldn’t want to hurtle The Hoff 70 metres into the air given the chance?
4) He had his own Finnish talkshow
I shit you not – he sang the theme song too. I always thought it was just the Germans who had a strange Hoff obsession, but the Finnish prove that theory soundly wrong with their support of this bizarre vanity project. I haven’t dug much past the intro to the show, but I’m not sure I have to…
5) He has a species of crab named after him
The Hoff Crab is named after David Hasselhoff due to it’s unusually hirsute chest. It’s not called the Tom Selleck Crab is it?
6) He made the greatest music video… ever
Never forget this music video for his cover of Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a Feeling’. Released in 1997 but bringing the vibe of something much older, there is no better example of what can happen when you match great acting talent with a green screen and a day of possibly falling well and truly off the wagon.
Sit back and enjoy.
Run in slow motion down a beach as fast as you can to watch Hoff the Record, available on Lightbox now
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