26 September 2018 | BrodyMarcusMacey
Not your typical syndicated drama
Syndicated TV in the US was in its heyday in the mid-1990s, with Hercules, Xena and other fantasy dramas showing that off-network programming could draw big audiences. Fred Dryer, formerly of NBC's Hunter, moved into syndicated drama with this show, in which he played Mike Land, former LAPD cop and now head of security at the Westin in Cabo San Lucas. Alongside Land were Dave "Thunder" Thornton, played by Tim Thomerson, and Willis P. Dunleevy, played by Geoffrey Lewis -- characters who were drifters in the best sense.
To its cost (it lasted only a year), Land's End eschewed the syndicated-show tropes of flash cars, hot bods, and explosions, and ended up instead as a slow-burning, character-driven comedy drama. More Rockford Files than Baywatch, the show centred on this unlikely trio of middle-aged men and their adventures.
A sample of the decidedly quirky plots: the cross-town chase for a missing cockatoo, the trio's mothers being imprisoned while visiting Cabo, frustrated talent-show contestants throwing a lounge singer into the sea after his feeble rendition of a Cole Porter classic, and a crazed couple's wild ride after stealing Mike's prized Pontiac GTO.
Land's End was perhaps doomed to fail in the syndicated realm, where older viewers were hard to reach and tight budgets meant that the writing and production values were variable rather than consistently top notch. But, thanks to the glorious Mexican vistas, offbeat stories, great chemistry among Dryer, Thomerson and Lewis, and first-rate incidental music from Marco Beltrami, Land's End was always entertaining.