Friday nights at 8, ex-cop Reno Raines saddles up his Harley-Davidson and continues searching for someone who can help him beat the murder rap that's been pinned on him.
Raines, played by Lorenzo Lamas, is the leading character of "Renegade," one of several syndicated action series that WDCA rolls out each night under the banner "the men of Channel 20."
But some of the guys' shows include a few women as well. In "Renegade," it's Lamas's willowy wife, Kathleen Kinmont, as computer whiz Cheyenne Phillips, half-sister to bounty hunter Bobby Six Killer (Branscombe Richmond).
Lamas, 35, and Kinmont, 28, said that although "Renegade's" first season did well with audiences, they and producer Stephen J. Cannell were not entirely happy with the storylines. Indeed, Entertainment Weekly graded the series a D-.
"Last year, some of the shows were driven by the guest cast," said Lamas. "In some of the plots, Reno, Bobby and Cheyenne were just going along for the ride. And I don't think that's the show Stephen Cannell had in mind. We want to know more about the three regular characters, and I think that's happening this year. The first seven shows have really brought it all together in terms of getting information about what makes us tick."
Cannell added a character named Hound Adams (Geoffrey Blake), a man who holds the key to Reno's freedom. Adams turns up frequently, although not in every episode, as Raines tries to find him and the information he needs to clear his name, much like "The Fugitive's" quest for the one-armed man.
"I think Stephen Cannell wanted to reintroduce the audience to the plot," said Lamas, "and he thought it was necessary to introduce a character that the audience can anticipate showing up now and then to give my character a chance for existing.
"And the characters needed to be more human. Reno would just show up to where he needed to be, but how did he get there? Why doesn't he leave the country? Why does he hang around and wait to be picked up by a cop who sees his poster? What is Cheyenne all about? Last season, there wasn't a lot of in-depth structure. This year, we're remedying that."
Last season, Reno Raines's brother showed up; this year, the viewers meet their father. And Cannell, 52 and the father of 18 series from "The A-Team" to "Wiseguy," chose this one for his own debut. He plays Dutch Dixon, the cop who framed Raines.
"I love the Reno character," said Kinmont. "He's not a victim, he never plays the victim, but he's somebody you root for. He's so upright and honest, the white knight. It's fun to watch."
"I always wanted to play an action character like this," said Lamas. "I get a chance to do things I've been doing in my own personal life for years, and it's really fun."
One is using his martial arts skills and the other is riding Harley-Davidsons. Lamas owns two, a classic from 1963, and one newer. The show uses a sturdy number for action scenes, and another kept polished "for the glamour shots," he said.
Even when Lamas was getting his acting career off the ground, he was a motorcycling kind of guy. When he was playing surfer Rick on "California Fever" (September to December 1979), he would ride to the beach. As Lance Cumson on CBS's long-running "Falcon Crest," he sometimes cycled off the set with the teenage daughter of actress Abby Dalton, who played Lance's mother, Julia Cumson. That was what Dalton's daughter, Kathleen Kinmont Smith, had in mind all along: She'd had a crush on Lorenzo Lamas since she was in the ninth grade.
Friends for 11 years, through his marriage to publicist Michelle Smith (a son, 9, and a daughter, 7) and a liaison with actress Daphne Ashbrook (one daughter, 4), they have been married for four years. "It took awhile for me to grow up, and for Kathleen to grow up as well," he said. "It was a perfect time for both of us when we got married."
They still motorcycle to the beach and to movies and do charity motorcycle rides for the Children's Transplant Fund, a charitable organization for youngsters whose parents can't afford their kidney, liver and heart transplant operations.
Lamas said Harley riders have come to view "Renegade" as "their banner show. If ever there was a show that could be termed a mascot for people who ride Harleys, it's 'Renegade,' and I'm real proud of that. All the products we use on the show are American made."
But there was a time when Lamas's two lives -- motorcycles and surfing -- coexisted uneasily. Take the case of tattoos.
"I've had them for years," he said. "I used to have them covered up for 'Falcon Crest.' I used to spend 40 minutes in the makeup chair while they covered up the tattoos because Lance was not a tattoo-wearing person.
"It's quite amazing how tattoos in general have been more and more accepted. I got my first tattoo when I was 19. The one on my shoulder is an eagle. I'd go to the beach and I'd take off my shirt and I'd almost feel self-conscious because nobody out there had tattoos, except my buddies, the guys who rode motorcycles. American-made bikes mainly. Of course, I felt right at home with them. But not when I was with the beach crowd. They didn't fly tattoos. Now, everybody's got 'em. People you wouldn't expect: businessmen, lawyers, even surfers have all kinds of tattoos."
Kinmont has one too, a sea gull, up on her shoulder almost always covered by her long hair. "I got that when I was 17, with Lorenzo. I picked it out. I never see it, so I'm not aware of it. I got it in 1982, after my father passed away."
Married in 1989, Lamas and Kinmont appeared together in "Night of the Warrior," "Final Impact" (airing Sunday on Cinemax and Friday on Cinemax 2) and "CIA: Code Name Alexa" (Tuesday and Friday on Cinemax). They also did an HBO film that airs in January, "CIA II: Target Alexa"; she plays a sort of female James Bond and he directs. Their most recent theatrical film is "Human Target." And Lamas has just completed directing "Smoke on the Water."
Lamas and Kinmont are second-generation actors, both born when their parents were appearing in television series.
Kinmont's mother, Abby Dalton, was appearing on "The New Joey Bishop Show" as Joey's wife when she gave birth to her first child, Matthew Smith, and later her daughter. "They had to write us into the script," said Kinmont.
Lamas's parents, Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas, were big-screen stars who did some television. Fernando Lamas, a star in Argentina, followed his dream to Hollywood in 1951 and left behind a wife and two daughters.
It was when Fernando Lamas was appearing on "The Jane Wyman Theater" that his son Lorenzo made his debut.
" 'The Jane Wyman Theater' was taped live, and during the final act, Dad got the call from the hospital that Arlene's in labor and there are some complications," said Lamas. "Now, they're taping live and they're at a commercial break, and he knocks on Jane Wyman's door and says, 'Jane, I've got to go. Arlene's in the hospital and there are some problems.'
"Jane, when she met me, told me to tell my dad that she's never forgiven him for leaving her in the lurch and that she hopes I don't repeat the same thing."
Wyman played matriarch Angela Channing on "Falcon Crest," and Lorenzo Lamas played her grandson.
Dahl and Lamas separated when Lorenzo was young, and the son neither lived with his father nor learned to speak Spanish fluently. But he hosted the Hispanic Image Awards here in 1991, and said: "I do feel a certain compassion and understanding, a certain alliance. I'm proud of my Latin American heritage."
With his mother in Manhattan and his father in Los Angeles, Lamas went to Admiral Farragut Academy in Toms River, N.J., for high school. The school, he said, "taught me to be a man."
But neither Lamas nor Kinmont went to college, something he regrets. His half-sister Carole is a 1984 graduate of Georgetown University, his 21-year-old half-brother Stephen an architecture student at New York University. He said he will insist that his children to go to college even if they want to act.
"They finish school first, and I mean college," said Lamas. "I think an actor needs to have something to fall back on because you never can rely on just your acting abilities until you make it, and sometimes it takes years to be able to support yourself as an actor. It took me seven, eight years, of knocking around. I worked at gas stations, I flipped hamburgers at McDonald's, I did a lot of odd jobs and it would have been nice to get into acting with a little money in the bank."