Guys, Seriously, This Exists: Sunset Beat

Posted by Maggie October 6th, 2009 at 09:00am In General

I don’t know if this is widely known, but George Clooney has not always been the fabulous jet-setting prankster superstar he is now. In the distant past, he was a struggling actor just like so many others, who was well-known but not totally famous and who, like his peers, would sometimes be cast in pilots that — to put it kindly — did not catch on with the general populace.

sunset beatOh my god, you guys. Sunset Beat. Sunset Beat is a show that exists. Once you read everything I have to say about it, you might not believe me, but I assure you in advance that this really happened and was not some sort of fever dream.

The pilot of Sunset Beat, George Clooney’s show that was never a show, has been airing on MGM recently as part of their First Taste of Fame series. Now, Sunset Beat is not one of those undiscovered gems, that you root for and wish there could’ve been more. No. Sunset Beat is TERRIBLE. Like, truly, horribly, mind-meltingly bad. But it’s bad in a way that makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.


Here’s what you need to know about Sunset Beat. It starts with a truck crashing into a helicopter. The truck is delivering something to someone nefarious, and the driver is talking on his CB or whatever, saying “I don’t see him! Where is he?!” and other guy’s like “Um he’s like right there dummy!” and then the truck turns a corner and there’s a helicopter parked in the middle of the road. Then they crash and fall down a cliff. Classic truck-crashing-into-helicopter stuff. You know how it goes.

Then George Clooney is playing lead guitar in a band whose name is, and this is not a joke, Private Prayer. Some crazy strung out chick interrupts the performance! She used to be the lead singer! And she was married to George Clooney! And he got her hooked on the junk!

But before you go thinking George Clooney is only the lead guitarist of a medium-popular band, get ready, because George Clooney is ALSO A COP IN A BAND OF UNDERCOVER MOTORCYLCE COPS. George Clooney is driving his motorcycle down the street, thinking about how he shouldn’t have gotten his ex-wife hooked on the junk, when he sees a helicopter and a truck at the bottom of a cliff. And so he investigates and he finds a giant pile of money, because what else could a truck be delivering to a helicopter in the middle of the day on a twisty LA mountain road?

And so George Clooney calls up the other undercover motorcycle cops to alert them that something weird is going on. This scene takes FOREVER because each of the cops has to have some sort of cute introduction that tells us a little about their personality and home life. ENDLESS. Also George Clooney calls them on his 1990 cell phone, which is awesome because he’s George Clooney with chin-length curly hair on a motorcycle with a 1990 cell phone.

Some of the other undercover motorcycle cops are Doakes from Dexter and TJ from Gilmore Girls.

Then I skipped the middle because it was boring. One of the cops saved an underage prostitute? Another one told his parents he was going to med school? I don’t know. That guy from the David Mamet movies shows up in relation to the A-plot, somehow, with something tattooed on his chest, because criminals are always kidnapping innocent people and tattooing shit on their chests just to send a message.

LATER, George Clooney is performing a big outdoor Private Prayer concert (of course) and his undercover motorcycle cop mentor named JC (of course) is thrown from a helicopter onto the stage and dies. Some people in the audience threaten everyone with guns because they want their money and then they leave. And the dumb lead singer ALMOST STARTS SINGING AGAIN but then George Clooney leaves because he has to catch the bad guys and avenge JC’s thoughtless helicopter-toss-murder, and also what? Why would you think that the concert would magically keep going after a human being is tossed from the sky and lands on stage and dies, not to mention all the guns? Were there lots of terrorism-riddled outdoor concerts in 1990?

So that’s really the climax, even though there’s another climax that involves another helicopter (I think, or maybe it was a crane? Somehow George Clooney is up in the air), and George Clooney gets dumped into the ocean and saves the day (somehow) and everyone thinks he’s dead but he’s not because it’s only the pilot. George Clooney climbs out of the water onto the dock and somehow his leather jacket is still dry, and the other undercover motorcycle cops are so glad to see him because if they had lost both JC and George Clooney in freak dropping-from-helicopter accidents that would have been a really bad week.

And then, tragically, Sunset Beat got canceled.

Search your DVR for more showings! It’s very, very boring and very, very hilarious at the same time.


  • 1. sara  |  October 6th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I may need to watch this. It sounds amazing, half 21 Jump Street, half that show about cops on bicycles.

  • 2. Rebecca  |  October 7th, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Maggie, please recap more terrible shows.

  • 3. Nicole  |  August 6th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    OMG! Maggie, this is amazing. I saw a clip of the outdoor concert part of this show on some late night talk show that George Clooney was on one night. I have been searching relentlessly since to find that clip and show it to my best friend. Do you know where I could find this clip ever in a world? I would be so greatful! lol. Thanks a lot!

  • 4. Chris  |  September 4th, 2010 at 1:19 am

    I was assistant production designer on this show. We all knew that the show wasn’t going to work. George was a great guy though – we all ate lunch together and he was truly a cool dude.

  • 5. Paul  |  May 22nd, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I was the drummer in his band, we shot 6 episodes… George was funny on set all the time, hated having to mime guitar, very obvious in the footage….it was aired originally on ABC….we got cancelled before it aired…. I have a VHS somewhere… I should post it to youtube… the outdoor helicopter scene was hilarious to shoot…as ridiculous as it was to watch….

  • 6. Chris Mc  |  April 24th, 2013 at 7:17 am

    thanks for posting this. I had the pleasure of working on this show as a 2nd assistant production designer. It was a wild ride – and we were always one step ahead of shooting with our set design and construction. We knew the show wasn’t going to fly and that the script was terrible.

    But it was great on other levels to work on it. For one thing, in all seriousness, George Clooney was incredibly nice – and we had lunch together on set a number of times. Smart, well read and decent….. and funny.

    But yeah, when I think about that show it almost makes my toes curl.


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