The Checklist: Renegade (S2 Ep9) “Wheel Man”
Lorenzo Lamas was no stranger to the world of television when he first hopped on his motorcycle and took on the role of Reno Raines on Renegade. Lamas had made a name for himself on the night time soap opera Falcon’s Crest in the 1980’s. As his soap opera days were beginning to wind down, Lamas branched out into the world of action movies and starred in the first two Snake Eater movies. Lamas would find success with those movies and that opened the door for him to star in one direct to video action movie after the other.
When Renegade came along in the fall of 1992 and was an instant hit, Lamas became one of the busiest action stars of the 1990’s. When he was not shooting Renegade, Lamas was making two action movies per year during the entire five season run of Renegade.
For those of you unfamiliar with Renegade, all you need to do is listen to the narration at the beginning of the show to get the premise…
“He was a cop, and good at his job. But then he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops – gone bad. Cops who tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands. An outlaw hunting outlaws, a bounty hunter – a RENEGADE!”
Lamas’ Reno Raines, using the alias Vince Black, did not hunt these outlaws all on his own as he would be assisted by series regulars Bobby Sixkiller played by Branscombe Richmond and Cheyenne Phillips played by Kathleen Kinmont, who was Lamas’ real life wife for most of the series.
In this edition of The Checklist, we will analyze the ninth episode from season two entitled “Wheel Man” and find out just how Renegade this episode was…
- Synopsis: Reno Raines/Vince Black goes undercover at a racetrack as a mechanic/race car driver to take down a bank robber.
1. Were there any notable guest stars?
Sam J. Jones (or Sam Jones as he was credited) played Nicky Griffin, a career criminal who comes up with the bright idea of using stock car drivers as the wheel men in his robberies. Jones played the titular character in 1980’s Flash Gordon and would go on to star in several direct to video action movies in the 1990’s like Ballistic, Maximum Force and Fists of Iron.
John Beck (Moonpie from the original Rollerball) played Roger Perry the owner and operator of the local race track. Perry is an ex-con looking to walk the straight and narrow but getting dragged back down into the muck and mire by Nicky Griffin, who through intimidation forces Perry to produce wheel men for him.
Finally… in one of his earliest roles, Walter Goggins (or Walt Goggins as he was credited) played hot shot race car driver Lance McBride. Goggins’ career has really taken off in recent years with credits that include critically acclaimed series (Sons of Anarchy and Justified) and big budget films (Tomb Raider and Ant-Man and the Wasp). 1/1
2. Was this a Stephen J. Cannell episode?
You may be thinking to yourself, every episode of Renegade was technically a Stephen J. Cannell episode as he was the creator of the show. But unlike other Cannell creations like The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Wiseguy and Cobra, Cannell was actually a recurring character on Renegade.
Cannell played Marshall Donald “Dutch” Dixon, the dirty lawman that framed Reno Raines for murder and the man who is looking to catch the on the run Raines and throw him in prison making Dutch a less ethical version of Col. Decker from The A-Team. The Dutch character appeared in 43 episodes over the course of Renegade’s five seasons… but “Wheel Man” was not one of those 43 episodes. 1/2
3. Did Lorenzo Lamas manage to get his shirt off?
Aside from the usual shot of a shirtless Lorenzo pouring a jug of water over his bare torso during the opening credits, Lorenzo gives the ladies what they wanted as he works on his stock car sans shirt… I guess he didn’t want to get grease on it. 2/3
4. Did Bobby Sixkiller and Cheyenne Phillips get in on the undercover fun?
Reno Raines isn’t the only one who knows how to go undercover to bring bad guys to justice, his colleagues Bobby Sixkiller (Branscombe Richmond) and Cheyenne Phillips (Kathleen Kinmont) do their part in “Wheel Man” too.
Cheyenne works at a local sports bar where all the race car drivers hang out and really gets the ball rolling on the episode with the intel she picks up there. Bobby poses as a loan shark who is looking to collect from Vince Black, the two put on quite a show for John Beck’s Roger Perry… when Perry realizes that Vince is hard up for money, he knows Vince would be a perfect fit to drive for Nicky Griffin.
But Bobby and Cheyenne weren’t done with their undercover work, Bobby also plays as radio DJ with Cheyenne as his lovely assistant in full luau attire. 3/4
5. Was there a musical montage?
Action movies and television shows can always benefit from a quality montage and “Wheel Man” has two montages both set to the Fabulous Thunderbird song “Wrap It Up”. The first gives us a taste of the world of small time stock car racing as Vince Black rides in looking for a mechanic’s gig. The second is a mechanic’s montage where we see the aforementioned shirtless Lorenzo Lamas’ Vince Black work on his car with some supervision/assistance from John Beck’s Roger Perry. 4/5
- Final Score = 4/5 (80%) This is as good as a Dutchless episode of Renegade can get.
There’s really only one way to wrap up this edition of The Checklist…