Friends, I grew up on a mountain in Anchorage, Alaska without cable TV. For the majority of my childhood I was unaware that there were kids my age in the neighborhood, so I spent most of my seemingly endless amounts of free time (my parents weren’t big on carting us around to activities) either reading alone in my room, doing live action Choose Your Own Adventures with my three brothers, or watching broadcast TV with them. By no means is this a complaint, we made our own fun. Since two of my three bros were older than me, it was a rare occasion that I got to pick our weekend programming. As such, I was well acquainted with the shows our local Fox affiliate played, and friends, I’m glad I am because it’s how I know about the syndicated (hit?!) show, starring Lorenzo Lamas, Renegade.
What is Renegade about? Well, I’ll just let the intro that played before every episode explain it to you.
I mean, when a show intro prominently features Lorenzo Lamas leaning against a motorcycle with a jug of water in his hand, you know you’re stumbled on to something truly beautiful.
Yes, friends, for those of you unwilling or unable to watch the intro, Renegade is about Reno Raines, played to perfection by Lorenzo Lamas, who was frequently shirtless or wearing a leather duster in the series. (If you were lucky, he was shirtless in his duster, and you knew it would be a good episode when that happened.)
Oh, you want to know what the show is about, instead of me explaining Lorenzo Lamas to you? I mean, OK … your loss. Anyway, Raines is an outlaw pursuing outlaws because he was framed for murder by dirty cops. So he prowls the badlands looking for fugitives, while being a fugitive, because this premise works on at least two different levels, neither of which I’m going to explain to you here. So, Reno is often pursued by the dirty cop who framed him, who is played by the show’s creator, Stephen J. Cannell (and why wouldn’t you cast yourself in this series if you could?). If you’re worried our titular renegade is without friends on his side that fear is unfounded, because what’s a renegade without his posse? Friends, Reno’s posse comes in the form of fellow bounty hunter Bobby Sixkiller. Here’s a fun twist—Bobby was originally hired to take Reno in, but since Reno saved his life (Reno has a habit of doing that) they decide to join forces together. Colloquially I call this concept #DudeRespect, where once enemies become allies because manly things happened to make it so. Anyway, Bobby has a sister named Cheyenne, who is always trying to tame Reno. Reno can’t be tamed, and because the actor who played her was married to, and eventually divorced from, Lorenzo Lamas, she’s written off the series by the final season.
OK, so you may be wondering why Reno went by his name if he was wanted—well, guess what? He had an alias, which was Vincent Black. Those of you who love motorcycles and watched Renegade will already know this, but I’ll let those of you who don’t intersect with that in on a little secret: it’s wordplay.
See, on the show, Reno rode a black Vincent motorcycle, so he used that as his alias because a ’90s syndicated show about motorcycles and bounty hunters starring Lorenzo Lamas can never be too on the nose.
There’s also a very special episode with Johnny Cash as the 4th season finale, and I’ll let whatever rando on Wikipedia explain the premise to you, because it’s so good I’m afraid I might bone it up:
After capturing bounty Henry Travis (Johnny Cash), Reno is thrown in jail as well, prompting Reno to confide to Travis that he “wish he’d taken that bullet” instead of his fiancé, Val (Deprise Brescia). He promptly gets his wish, and Reno is treated to a view of the world in which he has been dead for 4 years.
Yup, Renegade took on It’s a Wonderful Life, and did it Renegade-style. Reno Raines, George Bailey. They’re practically interchangeable.
Anyway, unfortunately there’s not a lot of Renegade clips on YouTube that I can share with you, but I enjoyed this obviously poorly compressed video where Reno threatens a cop about probable cause.
It’s clearly meant as a stand up and cheer moment, and friends, I mean, I stood up and cheered, so I guess it worked.
Renegade may have not been the best show on in the ’90s, but it certainly was the best show about a bounty hunter on a motorcycle on the wrong side of the law named Reno Raines that I know of, so…
Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Header Image Source: Mill Creek Entertainment