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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.
The Invaders (1967)
qm productions tackles sf
Quinn Martin uber-producer for television in the 60's & 70's with such classics as the Untouchables, the Fugitive, & numerous other shows tried a science-fiction series.This was a change of pace as most of his shows dealt with crimefighting premises.The Invaders was about architect David Vincent who becomes lost one evening while on an isolated country road.Becoming weary,he pulls off the road into a clearing in order to rest but witnesses a alien flying saucer.As the series went on,he discovers that the aliens are attempting to surreptitiously infiltrate earth's various organizations in government,military,& business in order to conquer us because their homeworld is dying.Since they can look like humans,Vincent never knows who he can trust.This added a creepy paranoia to the show.DV must give up his comfortable life as he launches his one man crusade to convince mankind that aliens are already among us.This was a well written show coming from QM productions.Roy Thinnes is a talented actor but he came off as cold & aloof in the lead part.He never generated the likability & sympathy that David Jansen did in the Fugitive.The spaceships were a cool looking design & the guest stars were excellent.This show belongs in the sf hall of fame.
Land of the Lost (1974)
a fun place to get lost in
This was an intriguing Saturday morning TV series created by Sid & Marty Kroft. The Marshall family;father Rick,son Will,& daughter Holly are out on a camping trip when the raft ride they take plunges down a waterfall & into a crevasse following an earthquke.In this unknown world they encounter prehistoric animals,the remains of a very old city carved out of stone,a race of humanoid lizards,& mysterious pylons located throughout the jungle.Wonderful stop motion animation was used in this show,a special fx rarely seen on television shows.There was also some terrific matte work depicting this lost land.The actors were appealing,& David Gerrold,Larry Nivan,D.C.Fontana,& Theodore Sturgeon were some of the top flight talent contributing scripts to the show.It was a kids show that aspired to bring spectacle,nifty fx,& quality writing to each episode.
The Herculoids (1967)
a superhero menagerie
Herculoids,created by Alex Toth was unique among the numerous superhero cartoons of the 60's being done by Hanna/Barberra & others.Focusing on 5 different creatures who lived on the planet Quasar along with the human-looking Zandor,his wife Tarra, & their son Dorno,they would battle alien invaders every week.Or some menace already existing upon their world.We really never knew why Quasar was so important to all of the alien invaders who seemed to have no connection to one another.There didn't seem to be any other lifeforms like Zandor & his family,or the Hercs themselves.Were they all indigenous to the planet?But it was still funto see the weekly action with this group.Zok the flying dragon that had ray beams emanating from both eyes & tail,Igoo the huge,powerful rock-like ape,Tundro a hybrid-looking triceratops/rhino,& Gloop & Gleep,the blobs.The other animated series were about traditional looking superheroes,replete with costumes & secret identities.Here we had a family like Tarzan,Jane & boy.Instead of African wildlife,we had alien animals with various powers.The art was wonderful,as was the voice talent.In this age of revivals,Herculoids would be wonderful to see again.This time around though let's hope the mysteries of the series could be addressed.
The Time Tunnel (1966)
it ages poorly
Growing up I was an avid fan of all the sf shows by Irwin Allen.Unfortunately none of his shows date well.Irwin was a showman much like a circus ringmaster.There's lots of action,fx,& spectacle in the center rings,but it is all sizzle but no steak.In interviews with the men & women who wrote for his various series,whenever they would attempt to write rich characterizations Allen would tell them to,"quit quibbling." If they were trying to construct an interesting plot that he did not agree with,"don't get logical with me," was his response.Allen wanted shows with action,fireworks,big fx & big sets.The story lines & relationships were secondary or non-existent.Like many, I have fond memories of his shows as part of my childhood.He had some wonderful production values in them.However,time has not been kind to them.To sit through a viewing of the Time Tunnel,Lost in Space,Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,or Land of the Giants is to see some marvelous eye-candy...but little else of any worth.
Seaquest DSV: To Be or Not to Be (1993)
This could a been a contender
SeaQuest DSV had all the signs of becoming a science fiction classic. Stephen Spielberg on board as a producer,Rockne O'Bannion who also created the magnificent Farscape was the show's creator. A wonderful cast headed by Roy Scheider,lavish production values,but ultimately the show floundered.The first season was the best even as the show was trying,like all series in their freshman year,to find their way.I find that the most exciting time period in a series.They are still experimenting with the premise & relationships & haven't fallen into the formulaic rut that can take over many sf shows.Somehow this series never seemed to come together for me.You could see the fallout;Roy Scheider wanted out,there was a revolving door for the cast,& they even had the sub abducted to another planet & then later brought back but in the future.All were desperate attempts to remold the show & all of them were atrocious.Some people postulate that the premise of exploring the oceans of the earth simply cannot compare to spaceships exploring the universe.Ironic that both SQ & Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea fell to the same fate after a pretty good first season.It will be unfortunate if nobody attempts another sf show dealing with the seas,as so few series have ever been made.But it may well be a long time before we ever see another stab at this concept.
many earths, many adventures
Sliders had the intriguing premise of a group of people being able to open up a vortex & journeying to parallel earths in alternate dimensions.The fact that a college kid in the present was able to create such a device in his basement to make this happen never seemed realistic to me.We are talking about technology such as this as being thousands of years in our future.But aside from that it was a nifty premise,& not one overdone on TV.The cast was wonderful & enjoyed a terrific chemistry.The story lines were endless,since each earth was different from their homeworld.Sliding into a new & unknown world was exciting,we walked with our sliders as they tried to discover what kind of earth they had come to,what were the differences,the dangers,& how best could they survive until the vortex would open again & propel them to their next earth? The scripts could range from satire to horror to science fiction.The early seasons with the original cast intact were always the best.Sadly, as the seasons went on the scripts declined in quality.John Rhys-Davies was the first to quit due to the poor writing of the show & not being allowed mush input.The creators of the series unfortunately had problems with network "suits" as to the direction of the show.That is a problem that happens all too often with TV sf series. By the end of the show's run,only the engaging Cleavant Derricks was left from the original cast.Able actors replaced the originals but were never could recapture the magic of their relationships.It was a disappointing end to what began as a fascinating show.
alien invaders blow it...again
This TV series like the miniseries before it suffers from the same flaw of numerous alien invasion premises.Here we have a civilization that is able to travel light years in their massive motherships.They therefore must be many centuries ahead of earth in all their technology.But once they get to earth we stop them cold.It has never seemed plausible to me.In the classic film "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the alien race simply made sure not one piece of equipment that required electricity could operate.How long would it take us to capitulate if a hostile alien race could do that to us? Weeks at best.I know that this would make for a very short movie or series,but the writers must create a scenario that is realistic.Other than that I found this show to have cliché alien villains,melodramatic acting,and run of the mill story lines.The Saucers & their shuttlecrafts were well designed.But this show is not in need of a remake as I've heard about.Find a new & exciting project that will dazzle us,not bore us.
Ark II (1976)
This Saturday morning TV series was set in the 25th century of earth.The world has been ravaged by wars & ecological pollution.One group of survivors who were technologically superior wanted to help out the rest of humanity.An immense vehicle called Ark II was constructed to go out into the world with a highly trained team & bring aid,comfort,& education to those less fortunate.Critics have found this show moralistic,preachy,& cornball.It could be those things at times,but I'm a sucker for a show that is about helping other people with no hidden agenda by the good guys.The Ark II group risked their lives each week in a world that could be hostile & unknown.They carried no weapons,tho they had hand held devices that could temporarily blind an opponent.As with many Sat a.m. series we were saddled with a kid sidekick & an animal,Adam the chimp.Neither a plus to the show.The Ark was futuristic & formidable looking,with hi-tech labs & gadgetry onboard.They also had use of a jet-pack.There was plenty of location filming that gave the series a sense of really being out in the world.It was not a perfect show & did not have the mature scripts we would come to see on such later Sat morning shows as Captain Power & Hypernauts.But it was a series that said there is both good & evil within mankind,here was a community that wanted to perform positive,humane works to benefit others.It spoke to our nobler nature,instead of being just another action/adventure program with little thought behind it.Can we ever have too many of these kind of shows?
a show about rescues
Thunderbirds was a wonderful marionette show by the prolific British producers Gerry & Sylvia Anderson.Of all his puppet shows,as well as his live action series,it remains the most well known & the most beloved.I believe that part of this is due to the premise of this show,which was a family that utilized their vast wealth & education to construct vehicles that would come to the aid of any country that requested them.It was a refreshing change from heroes that do battle with law breakers,spies,or hostile alien invaders.Here we had an entire family,the Tracys,that devoted themselves to the preservation of life all the while putting their lives on the line with each mission.Their base of operations was an island on which they lived.They conducted their rescues in secret,so fame & glory was never their goal.The show had superb production values with Derek Meddings & his model makers & special effects team on the job.The actors who supplied the voices for the characters were spot-on.Each week presented us with another exciting rescue op,wondering just how would International Rescue pull this one off? Wasn't it wonderful to see man's humanity to man for a change,instead of how can we destroy the other guy,even if it is in the name of justice.
laughs and action with the Texas rangers
Laredo,along with the High Chaparral,were two of the best western series ever produced.The rangers of Laredo stood out from the other TV western series casts in a number of ways.They liked a good fight.Not just to impose justice but because these guys enjoyed brawling,on duty and off.They loved to set one another up for a practical joke,they made mistakes,could be full of themselves,and try to pull fast ones on their Captain.Not perfect,but very human.Through it all they were also loyal to one another and risked their lives without hesitation for their buddy.They could break the law if need be in order to enforce it.The show had loads of humor and never took itself too seriously.That was not commonplace with most TV westerns.The cast was outstanding!From the bellowing Neville Brand,brawny William Smith,smooth Peter Brown,worldly Robert Wolders,and stern Philip Carey,they all shared a wonderful chemistry.The second season of the series brought new and cooler outfits for some of the cast.Peter Brown's Chad Cooper role now wore a blue double breasted shirt,just what one would expect of a lady's man.William Smith's Joe Riley could be found in a distinctive buckskin shirt that remains a favorite of mine.His having lived among the Indians made it seem logical he would prefer such a top.Robert Wolders Eric Hunter's numerous fancy duds had to be seen to be believed.Somehow that even made sense to me.His character was European,cultured & educated,possibly of royal background.His tastes would lean towards the elegant.The theme music is rousing & memorable.It was a show that should have continued for more than its 2 seasons.
not the show it could have been
The premise for Galidor,2 kids & their alien companions & their adventures in another dimension had wonderful possibilities.Sadly this series did not fulfill its promise.After seeing that mature writing could be applied to Saturday morning "kid" shows such as Captain Power & his Soldiers of the Future & Hypernauts,this show stepped back to the days of unsophisticated & silly Sat a.m.shows.The allies that the kids met looked like they just walked over from Seseme St.I love cute muppets but not on this show.You can integrate terrific looking puppets or actors in full body suits into a sf series.Farscape has magnificently proved that.The lead actors were fine,tho'the villain was done in a melodramatic,over-the-top,clichéd manner.The cg fx were very well done,& they had some good looking sets.The show came off as blending of sf & fantasy elements.This rarely is ever a good mix.Various old plot lines are unimaginatively brought into play,and Nick's mission is has a been-there,done-that feel.
Scared Stiff (1953)
a disappointing comedy
I've always loved the mixture of comedy/horror films but this one you can pass on.I suppose that part of the problem is that I never cared for the Martin & Lewis comedy team.The Marx Brothers & Abbott & Costello were vastly superior.Dean Martin was a fine actor & singer with an easy going charm.As a straight man to the hyperkinetic Lewis he could have been replaced by anyone.Lewis playing what amounts to a retarded person is rarely funny in his team movies with Martin.His solo films are better.Another problem is that they don't get to the haunted castle on the island until very late in the movie.The sets for the castle are impressive,and there are chilling moments once they finally arrive.All in all you'd do better on Halloween night to make some popcorn,curl up on the couch...and play Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein.
The Green Hornet (1966)
a superhero series with a lot of pluses in it.
I was a huge fan of The Green Hornet TV series when it premiered in the fall of 1966.Several years ago I bought the complete set of tapes for the show & watched it with great interest having not seen it since it went off the air in '67.It has many wonderful qualities to it.A fine cast,intriguing hardware,and a serious approach.I am still impressed with The Black Beauty,loaded with an array of clever weapons, as it revolves out of its hiding place.The Hornet Gas Gun is a nifty,non-lethal device that originated with the character when he first came to radio.I always loved The Hornet Sting as it telescoped outward in order to use its sonic waves.And what an imaginative premise it was to have a crimefighting duo "appear" as mastermind criminals in order to infiltrate the bad guys orginizations,and thus break them up from within.Yes, the series does have its drawbacks.The 30-minute format does not allow much character development of the cast or guest stars,as well as the plot.Bruce Lee's superb martial arts skills are underutilized,and he was never happy that Kato was a servant.Some of the scripts are formulaic and the crooks of the week routine.Van Williams who played Britt Reid,a.k.a.the Green Hornet,said that the show was renewed for a second season.But there was a dispute between the ABC network & the producers of the show.One wanted to have the series return as an hour show,the other wanted it to remain in its half-hour format.As an hour series it could have corrected its flaws & become a cult classic.Come to think of it,it already is.
a marvelous Saturday morning sci-fi series
Captain Power & his soldiers of the future may have been saddled with one of the worst titles for a t.v. series, but don't let that fool you. It was one of the most sophisticated sf shows of its time.With terrific scripts,some of which were written by Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski,a wonderful cast, and some cutting edge computer animated special effects,all make this series memorable.While it was a Saturday morning kids show, it managed to be dark & edgey in its atmosphere.The adults acted as such, & there were no stereotypical cute kids,cute animals, or funny sidekicks to distract us from the intriguing plots.In an interview with JMS that I read years ago,he said that he & the other writers decided not to approach this show as being just another Sat morning show for the tiny tots.They were going to write as mature & cool a show as they could & not limit themselves under any labels.The result was one dynamic sf series.What a shame such a fine show was cancelled because the interactive toy associated with the it was not a huge seller.
one of the most ambitious sci fi series ever made
UFO was one of the most ambitious science fiction series ever produced for television. The array of hardware ran from a base on the moon with interceptor space ships to submarines with a jet aircraft that could detatch itself from the bow & rocket through the ocean depts & into the sky. In between the S.H.A.D.O. organization had S.I.D., the satellite in space to detect enemy/alien saucers, to mobiles that were futuristic tank-like vehicles,and much, much more.These were all employed by the secret Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Org. which was a collection of earth governments whose mission was to defend the planet from an unknown & hostile alien race invading us.Gerry Anderson created an epic series for TV that I doubt could be done these days for television due to what would be an enormous cost. If this premise is ever revived, it would be better served as a multi-million dollar feature film.I can't think of many U.S. series that had so much hardware, models, & fx all going on in them. To be sure it had its flaws.The Shado h.q. hidden beneath an operating movie studio hardly seemed the best choice for covert ops.The Interceptors, the first line of defense against the alien saucers, only had one missile to fire with no other weaponry on board,& the design for the alien saucers made it look more like a kid's toy.But you certainly got your money's worth & then some every week with this show.
The Lone Ranger (1966)
a wonderful animated series
This 1966 cartoon series was a fun ride that I still remember to this day.First off, the animation style was unique compared to all the other cartoon TV series on at that time.It resembled the opening credits animation from the Wild,Wild,West TV show. And like that series,this cartoon had the Lone Ranger & Tonto fighting colorful,larger than life villains. Some of whom had technology that was anachronistic to the era that this series was set in.It was a fun way to update these characters for the audience.It was also nice to see Tonto featured solo in several episodes.The voice talent captured the roles perfectly, and the music was also distinctive.This series was clearly influenced by the Wild West TV series,but that's what made it outstanding.