1964 – 1968
Porter ‘Po’ Ricks (Brian Kelly) was the chief ranger of Coral Key Park, Florida, responsible for protecting both the game fish and the skin divers in the park. A widower, he lived with his two children, 15-year-old Sandy (Luke Halpin) and 10-year-old Bud (Tommy Norden), in a cottage near the shore. The real star of the series was the boys’ pet dolphin, Flipper, who was both friend and helper in their weekly adventures. The stories generally revolved around Flipper and his two young companions, with Bud involved more often than Sandy.
Also regularly seen during the first season was Hap Gorman (Andy Devine), an old marine carpenter with endless numbers of stories about sea life and adventures. During the second season Ulla Norstrand (Ulla Stromstedt), an attractive oceanographer, was a regular character.
The role of Flipper was played by a dolphin named Suzy.
The final episode of the series was aired September 1st, 1968.
1998 - 2000
‘Flipper’ returned again well over two decades later in September 1998 with Dr. Keith Ricks (Brian Wimmer), who had been the 10-year-old Bud on the original ‘Flipper’ series in the 1960s, now running the Bal Harbor Research Institute in Florida. He worked with Dr. Pamela Blondel (Colleen Flynn), a single mother and civilian scientist on assignment with the navy. In the series premiere her teen dream son Mike (Payton Haas), after hearing Keith’s tales of the Flipper of his youth, gave the name to a friendly and incredibly intelligent, male dolphin his mother was working with. Aphrodite was the female research dolphin at the institute with whom Flipper had a baby dolphin at mid-season. Living near the institute was Maya Graham (Jessica Marie Alba), a cute young girl who became Mike’s friend.
Some episodes focused on the work of the institute and the relationships of the regulars, particularly the friendship between Mike and Maya, while others dealt with more serious – and sometimes violent – subjects like poachers, smugglers and polluters. The ‘90s ‘Flipper’ was somewhat edgier than the gentle family show of the ‘60s.
In the spring of 1996 Mike and the others found out that Maya, who they thought had been living with her sister on a houseboat, was in fact a runaway from a child-care facility and was living alone. Pam, not wanting to see the girl returned to state custody, took her in and started adoption procedures.
When ‘Flipper’ returned for its second season there were major changes. Cap Daulton (Gus Mercurio), a grizzled old character with a small salvage boat, had taken Flipper up the coast to Bal Harbo Key where his daughter, Jennifer ‘Jenn’ (Elizabeth Morehead), ran the relocated Bal Harbor Research Institute. Jenn was a marine biologist whose facility was adjacent to the Monroe County Search and Rescue Substation on the beach north of Bal Harbor. Dean Gregson (Scott Michaelson) and Holly Myers (Anja Coleby) were attractive young interns on her staff. Sheriff Tom Hampton (Whip Hubley), with whom Jenn had a friendly rivalry, ran the sub-station with Quinn, who was also an experienced diver. The series one silly gimmick was Jenn’s use in her lab of a talking computer named Simon. Maya was the only holdover from the first season’s cast – Pam had been transferred to the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor and Keith, who had started dating her, had taken a position at a research facility in Hawaii.
A year after its syndicated run had ended, the series returned as ‘Flipper: The New Adventures’ on the new Pax Network. Jenn and Maya were now gone, doing marine research in the Red Sea and Tom had a new deputy, Mark Delaney (Darrin Klimek). In the season premier he married Lieutenant Commander Alexandra ‘Alex’ Parker Hampton (Tiffany Lamb), a widowed navy marine biologist who had moved to Florida from California to start a new life. She had two children, perky Jackie (Laura Donaldson) and moody Chris (Craig Marriott), who had not gotten over his father’s death trying to save some people from drowning. After awhile Chris came out of his shell and developed a loving relationship with his stepfather.
In the fall of 1999 Courtney Gordon (Skye Patch), Tom’s niece, arrived and moved in with the family. Her divorced mother, Tom’s sister, was an attorney in Washington and the two of them had been having problems.
The series was filmed in Queensland, Australia and the last show was aired October 19th, 2000.