After passing by the gawping gaze of popular culture, certain products, people and artefacts are all but forgotten a couple of years down the line.
Tab Clear – anyone remember that?
Others endure and simply never go away, like the indestructible, muscular, maternal cyborg that is Madonna. Or Marmite. But then there are those that are reborn, years later either in a slightly different, updated guise, like when La Roux appeared from some musical time-travel laboratory sporting that bloke from The Flock of Seagulls’ haircut.
And finally there are those who are resurrected purely for irony’s sake. David Hasselhoff’s a strong and recent example of how the internet can regenerate a career through the power of net-based in-jokes, a backlog of toe-curlingly embarassing publicity shots, memories of idiosyncratic German superstardom, a silly name and heaps and heaps of misplaced nostalgia.
Characters who can succumb to this kind of webular renaissance – ask Rick Astley if you don’t believe me – have usually had a period in which they were taken seriously, followed by a slow or sudden decline. After the glory years of Knightrider, Hoff produced the kitsch tit-fest that was Baywatch and somewhere during its second series and despite its success, Mitch Buchanan’s sagging pecs turned the viewers off. The Hoff sank into the background while co-star Pamela thrust her bazonkas into the limelight. The love affair with Dave was over and The Hoff became an embarrassment – and a stark reminder of 80s and early 90s weirdness with it.
Then, cunningly latching onto the internet frenzy that erupted when pictures like this, this and this started being emailed back and forth in offices nationwide, Scott Mills got the whiff of a movement and set about capitalising on it. He encouraged the listeners to his Radio 1 show to buy Hasselhoff’s new release – Get Into My Car – a novelty single by any other name. And off the back of Mills’ ironic support, the single hit number three and put The Hoff back into the public domain – compounded by a stint on America’s Got Talent and some Youtube cheeseburgering.
So now we arrive post-regeneration and after a ton of bad press, at LivingTV’s The Hoff: When Scott Mills Came To Stay. Shot in the style of one of JLT’s Bring Back… shows, this time we were told that Mills has always been a massive fan of Dave’s, and that this has been an unwavering support that his lasted his lifetime. The suspicion is that this is something of a porky. Perhaps he loved Knightrider as a child, but I bet he jumped ship like the rest of us during Baywatch.
So the opening fifteen minutes are somewhat redundant but what follows is actually – and I say this despite myself – bloody entertaining. Even though there’re far too many Mills-to-camera moments in which Scott unnecessarily shares his feelings regarding being around his idol, Hasselhoff himself has veered so far into Los Angeles self parody that the neutral can simply sit back and wonder at quite how unhinged the great man is.
He calls his office his Hoffice. A cup of coffee becomes a cup of Hoffee. He has a TV room half filled with VHS cassettes featuring archive footage of… well, guess who?
He has a room for all his German and Austrian gold discs. He’s trying to have his daughters record a single under the name The Hoff Drops. He has Hoff gag T shirts all around the house. The Hoff-based theme in his own abode never seems to end.
It’s totally unclear as to whether he’s into the joke and complicitly understands the affectionate mockery or whether he’s a deluded egomaniac blinkered by past success. You have to assume it’s a wired, confused mixture of the two.
Throughout, he’s unrelentingly hyper and, the minute Mills arrives, takes him off jet-skiing as if to prove some misguided point. Inevitably as he’s in his late 50s, Hoff falls off during the man-on-man watersports action and shakes himself up a bit. But there’s no time for tears as Jeremy Jackson – Hobie from Baywatch, commands The Hoff to fly to Vegas for a party.
The evening is a complete mess of Hoff running from one party scene to the next, not stopping for breath and denying Mills any one-on-one time. The entire sequence is composed of one trying to catch up with the other until, eventually, Mills loses him. When Hoff asks why Mills ditched him the next day he asks if his guest ‘found a girl’, making it abundantly clear that he doesn’t even know Mills’ sexual preference – so as a getting-to-know-you piece, we’re floundering at the 45 minute mark.
As the time runs down, we have the closest thing to a personal conversation we’re going to get as some acupuncture needles pierce the two of them during a heart to heart. But then it slowly becomes apparent that this is going to be a series.
An hour in the dizzying company of this enigmatic mess is one thing – but an entire series revolving around The Hoff and his life in Bel Air?
Surely that’s too much to ask of anyone?