Grade: B/B+
Entire family: Yes
1964-65, 780 min. (31 episodes), Color
Family adventure
Not rated (would be TV-G)
Olive Films
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Featured audio: DTS Mono
Bonus features: n/a
Opening/Closing Theme with snippet
Amazon link

When Flipper debuted in the fall of 1964, it became an immediate hit with boys and animal lovers—which are often the same thing. It was every boy’s fantasy: 15-year-old Sandy (Luke Halpin) and 10-year-old Bud (Tommy Norden) lived with their widowed father, Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly), in a cottage right on a lagoon that was part of the Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in the Florida Keys that their dad patrolled. As the park’s lone ranger he was responsible for protecting the environment, looking after the welfare of the sea creatures, and also monitoring any scuba divers, snorkelers, or boat enthusiasts that visited the park.

The boys helped their father some of the time, but mostly struck out on their own. It was like a permanent summer vacation, where Sandy and Bud could take the skiff out any time they wanted and go diving or snorkeling to their heart’s content. Often they were accompanied by Flipper, a wild dolphin that took a shine to Bud (who can communicate with it) and hangs around the boys of his own volition. Good thing, because he’s needed to come to the rescue in just about every episode. In a way, Flipper is a marine version of that earlier iconic ‘50s show Lassie. What’s that, Lassie? Timmy’s trapped in the well?

Only here, Flipper tries to communicate that Bud is trapped inside a sea cave, or Sandy and another boy are trapped inside a sunken wreck, or one of them is being held captive in a boat by a poacher or treasure hunter or other nogoodnik. But while Flipper is just as wholesome as Lassie and seems to have one foot in those innocent ‘50s, it’s a whole lot more entertaining.