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This was another entertaining episode of THC.Johnny Rondo(Steve Forest),a former gun-for-hire wants to start a new life with his son(Kurt Russell),one devoid of guns.This episode always struck me as a possible pilot/spin-off for its own TV series.Generally most TV shows do employ the method of having one of their episodes serve as a pilot for a new show.Some succeed,most do not.My other favorite western alongside THC,Laredo,was originally first presented on an episode of The Virginian.Laredo itself had two of their episodes utilized as pilots:One with Jack Lord,pre-Hawaii Five-O,another with the popular singing team of Chad & Jeremy.Star Trek offered Assignment:Earth as a possible spin-off,Maude was first introduced on an episode of All in the Family & The Jeffersons also spun-off from AITF,Good Times from Maude.Its a technique still employed by TV to this day.
This episode was the second season premiere of Laredo.It introduced ranger Eric Hunter(Robert Wolders wearing the fanciest outfits ever seen in the wild west)as a regular cast member,as well as new duds for Chad(a blue bib shirt,black vest,& new hat) & Joe(a nifty looking buckskin shirt)that were superior to what they wore in the first season.Midas Mantee is an intelligent,well read,criminal mastermind.He intends to use camels as an escape across a desert with his recently stolen gold.He uses laughing gas to render the guards in the bank(Reese & a deputy)unconscious so that his gang can break in & steal the gold.It almost sounds like a plot out of Mission:Impossible or The Wild,Wild West.It all ends with an exciting shootout between the Texas Rangers & Mantee & his gang at an abandoned army fort that was used as Mantee's hideout.There were some gaffes with the plot I felt.Firstly,Joe Riley manages to track the gang at night,quite a feat in itself even for a top tracker as Joe.He's alone & simply rides up to the fort & is captured by the outlaws.That seems like a pretty dumb move on Joe's part.When the rangers & the gang battle it out in the fort we see the horses scatter due not only to all the gunfire but because they naturally are skittish around camels.At the end of the episode Reese is riding on top of one camel,Chad & Joe together on another as the criminals,tied up,walk in front of them.Did all the horses run away,were Reese,Chad & Joe unable to capture any? How come Reese & Chad aren't riding their own horses? When they first arrived at the fort,they tied up their mounts well outside the fort in order to sneak up & into it.So their horses should have still been waiting for them at the conclusion of the battle.This also is the only episode of the show where we hear Joe sing a few lyrics from the classic country western song Streets of Laredo,& later hear it as background music during the duel between Chad & Eric.
This was an intriguing concept to have the villains use a leopard as their hit-man.Although I always wondered as to how the leopard made a clean getaway? I assume the elevator he came up in to reach the Daily Sentinel newsroom wasn't still waiting for him. Later,an outraged zoo keeper confronts reporter Mike Axeford about his article in the newspaper attacking this man's leopard.Other than knowing a leopard killed Mike's friend,how would Mike know the name of this leopard or who owned it? Later on in the gardens at the estate of the villains the leopard is released from its cage to go after Axeford on whom a homing device has been planted which draws the animal to its victims.The Green Hornet & Kato are also in the garden when TGH tells K that the leopard is after Mike. Exactly how did they know this,the leopard could have been after them.I'm not sure that this was the pilot episode as indicated in the trivia section here at IMDb.In the very first TGH episode broadcast(September 09,1966)"The Silent Gun,"the Hornet Sting weapon is oddly missing in this episode.I suspect that this was the pilot for TGH & after viewing it the producers decided he required another high tech weapon besides his gas gun & created the Hornet Sting for him.
This TV show was a fascinating technological achievement for the '60's.The term "Virtual Sets" did not exist then as it does now but that is exactly what was created for Huck Finn,& all on a TV budget & weekly schedule besides! Nowadays virtual sets are done via computer generated imagery(CGI)& the results are phenomenal,but no such technology existed in 1968. Virtual sets could be created at that time by matte paintings(Star Trek)& also by placing live actors against miniature model sets(The Starlost). The other method was to have live actors in an animated environment as was done on Huck Finn. And they did it beautifully with this show. The quality of the animation itself was also very good,similar to Johnny Quest. It's truly an incredible accomplishment in addition to being a fun & entertaining TV show as I was growing up.
The Virginian: We've Lost a Train (1965)
A Fun Episode
This episode of The Virginian also served as a pilot episode for the western TV show Laredo. Trampas is sent to Texas to purchase a valuable bull & encounters three rowdy Texas Rangers played by Neville Brand(Reese Bennett),Peter Brown(Chad Cooper),& William Smith(Joe Riley) as well as their captain played by Phillip Carey. Trampas meets the respective rangers Reese,Chad,& Joe one-by-one & each ranger is ready to fight with Trampas due to some unfortunate incidents.Later,as Trampas leaves Laredo to purchase the bull he again runs into the three rangers who are on an assignment,since they are all headed in the same direction they ride together & Trampas becomes embroiled in the rangers mission.Ultimately they come to respect one another & become friendly.Captain Parmalee even tries to sign Trampas up into the Texas Rangers by the end of the episode.Laredo debuted in the fall of 1965 & ran for only two seasons.Laredo was a terrific show with plenty of action,adventure as well as humor & remains my favorite TV western to this day.
Flash Gordon (2007)
Once again the Sci Fi Channel shows us that the inmates are running the asylum over there.Does anyone at this network actually "enjoy" science fiction? Recognize the difference between superior writing(Farscape,Battlestar Galactica) & inferior,vastly,inferior writing like this atrocious mess?Every television network has its share of winners & losers,but the SF Channel's output of poor product clearly is enormous while eminent product continues to remain in the minority.Flash Gordon could be no better example of that fact. It was recently announced that their series Painkiller Jane has been canceled,let us hope that Flash follows suit quickly!
The Sixth Sense (1972)
esp=scary fun series
The Sixth Sense was one of the very few TV series to delve into the psychic world as a dramatic one-hour show.Dr.Michael Rhodes(Gary Collins)is a university professor who would investigate psychic phenomena and the lives of those it affected.This was a cool show that created some eerie episodes that were best viewed with the lights out.While Rhodes was written as a rather one-dimensional character,Collins brought a warmth & intelligence to the part that made you like the guy.The ESP aspects of the show would be shrouded in a mystery-of-the-week plot.Haunted houses,visions,ghosts,premonitions,psychic powers,you could look forward to chills from such stuff each week.Sadly,the show was re-packaged to run as part of the reruns of the fine Night Gallery show.But they cut the one-hour series back to 30-minutes in doing so,which makes the half-hour episodes incomprehensible & rushed.Still,it was a creepy show for its era(1972)and it was able to do it within the restrictions & lack of imaginations of the network.The X-Files was able to take the concept much further & with the benefits of later day technology & fx.But The Sixth Sense walked the path earlier.
T.H.E. Cat (1966)
one cool cat
In 1966 on Friday nights I had two brand new series to look forward to as a 13 year old.The Green Hornet & T.H.E.Cat were unique among the standard TV offerings of cop shows,lawyer shows,doctor shows & sitcoms.Cat was a former circus acrobat & jewel thief who did his prison time & now was on the side of law.But instead of the standard cliché of his becoming a p.i.,he sold his services as a bodyguard & security expert.This propelled him into many exciting adventures.He generally was clad in black pants & a turtleneck.His weapons were his "Cat's Claws" knives that were hidden up each shirt sleeve.He was athletic & fast and could easily scale over high fences,up the side of any building,& over rooftops with a lithe skill.The Lalo Schifrin musical score is superb,the writing excellent as were the actors,and the show had a dark & gritty look to it.It remains a favorite of mine today even though it only lasted one season.Like The Green Hornet it deserved a long run,but both series managed to become cult classics for many fans even with their short runs.
The Time Tunnel (2006)
Another trip down the infinite corridors of time
This was a fascinating & superior updating of the 1966 Irwin Allen series of the same name.Unlike that(and all of Allen's sf series)show, this is an intriguing & well thought-out premise.While attempting to create a clean,renewable,& abundant energy source,the Dept.of Energy inadvertently rips open a time vortex into past ages.A timestorm then ripples throughout these distant eras which in turn causes anomalies that disrupt our present.The TT complex is shielded from these alterations & realize how history has changed.They have plotted 240 anomalies which need to dealt with,so a team of experts are assembled in order to journey back in time in order to correct the errors caused by the anomalies,& then are retrieved back to the present.This would have been a wonderful series had it been picked up.In its premise it answers the problem inherent in all time travel scenarios:the past cannot be meddled with,no matter how benevolent the intentions are,because it may produce harmful ramifications all the way into the present.But here the time-team must restore the past to what we know it should be,their missions are to make things right.While this premise is hardly original & has been used by other TV series such as Voyagers & Quantum Leap,it works.The cast was likable & you cared about them.The fx were terrific.What a shame we won't be watching them return to the past to set things right with those other pesky 239 anomalies that are left.