Monday, December 17, 2007


This was a cool sci-fi show on Friday nights for about two months in early 1985. The Sterling family were touring Egypt and were inside the Pyramid of Giza during a rare planetary alignment. When they emerged, they were in a parallel earth populated by humans but with a completely different culture and history than our earth. There were no familiar countries, only zones, each with it's own culture and laws. Travel between zones was forbidden and therefore there were no maps of the zones.
Episodes had them running from one zone to another in search of a way home, pursued of course by the requisite bad guy.
Only 8 episodes were aired, but it was rumored that 13 were actually produced; which would make sense because it was a mid-season replacement and the network would have likely ordered 13 episodes. Although highly unlikely, it would be great if they got this out on DVD.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

1978-Sword Of Justice

70s TV star Dack Rambo starred as Jack Cole, a rich playboy by day and a kind of mercenary at night...Imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, he learns the ways of criminals while behind bars.
Jack's trademark is a playing card, the three of spades, to represent the three years he spent in prison, and it had written on it "The spade is the sword of justice -- its rapier marks the end."

Friday, December 7, 2007

1975-The Ghost Busters

A Norm Prescott/Lou Scheimer production from 1975, The Ghost Busters was a Saturday morning show that featured Spencer, Kong, and Tracy the gorilla as they would go on missions to find ghosts to use their Ghost Dematerializer on. (Spencer Tracy and Kong. Get it? Groan.) They ended up always going to the same spooky house on the edge of town and they would go all Three Stooges while chasing down the ghost.
It's a shock it didn't last more than 15 episodes. This show was remade as a cartoon in the 80s after the success of the movie Ghostbusters, which shared a remarkable resemblance to the name and plot elements of this show, don't you think?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Opening with an exceedingly long (by today's standards) 90 second theme song, Angie aired for two seasons in 1979 and 1980. The theme song reached number 1 on Billboard's adult contemporary charts in 1979.
Set in Philadelphia, the story revolved around waitress Angie Falco (Donna Pescow), customer turned husband Brad Benson (Robert Hays), and the couple's two very different families; the rich Bensons and the working class Falcos. A very pre-Raymond Doris Roberts also starred as Angie's mother.
As usually happens, the show jumped the shark once the main characters were married in season two, and viewers lost interest.

Friday, November 23, 2007

1985-Small Wonder

This insipid show started in 1985 in first-run syndication and ran for an unbelievable 96 episodes. Before afternoon talk shows started littering the mid-afternoon TV landscape, odd little shows like this would air along with Mama's Family, Charles in Charge, and It's A Living.
A 10-year old robot girl kept by an 80s suburban family while they try to hide the fact that she's a robot from nosy neighbors has got to be one of the worst tv series premise ever. Even for a sitcom. In fact, a TV critic for USA Today listed it as a contender for one of the worst TV shows of all time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

1972-The Paul Lynde Show

If you grew up after the 1970s, you have probably never heard of Paul Lynde. Remembered by many as the center square on Hollywood Squares throughout the 70s, Paul Lynde was a character actor that essentially played the same personality in every role. He was known for his trademark sarcastic manner, often a quick insult delivered through his teeth with a head waggle. Think Roger from American Dad is original? His personality and mannerisms are heavily inspired from Paul Lynde.
He was a prolific guest star in TV shows throughout the 60s and 70s. He was known as a stylish 'confirmed bachelor,' so naturally when producers gave him his own show he was cast as straight-laced Paul Simms, attorney, husband, father.
One day Howie, a shaggy-haired, blue-jeans wearing college student moves in-and hilarity ensues! Well, in reality, the show is remembered as mediocre at best and would often end up with someone falling in the pool.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

1981-Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

This one is for Max.
This was an NBC Saturday morning cartoon and was the second animated series about the webhead. Originally supposed to be Spider-Man, Iceman, and Human Torch, but legal issues with the Human Torch character prevented them from using him in the show. So producers invented a new character, Firestar. I don't know how the team could afford Batcave-level equipment on a college student's budget. Stan Lee narrated later episodes.
Twenty-four episodes were produced and endlessly rerun on Saturday mornings through 1986.

Monday, October 29, 2007

1975-Far Out Space Nuts

More 70s Sid and Marty Kroft weirdness. While loading food aboard a moon rocket at NASA, ground crewmen Junior and Barney accidentally launch the ship and are propelled into outer space. Episodes would show their encounters with aliens and their attempts to get back to earth.
Sixteen episodes were produced.

Friday, October 26, 2007

1977-Man From Atlantis

1980-Thundarr The Barbarian

The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man's civilization is cast in ruin!
Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn...A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery...super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil.
He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!
The characters on this show were created by the same guy that created Space Ghost in the 60s. Thundarr the Barbarian was set in 3994 where earth is a post-apocalyptic wasteland where it is ruled by the 7 Citadels of Sorcery, a group of evil sorcerers who use a combination of magic and highly advanced technology to rule over the hapless populace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

1975-The Invisible Man

This was TV's second attempt to make a workable invisible man show, the earlier series of the same name airing 1958-1960.
Scientist Daniel Westin manages to turn himself invisible but can't turn visible again. D'oh!
He fakes visibility in the series by using a wig, gloves and a realistic mask that looks like actor David McCallum. Whenever the need arose, Westin would take off his mask and clothes and walk around naked as the invisible man. (I would imagine this to be somewhat problematic for a secret agent.) When he's invisible, phones lift themselves off the hook, cars drive themselves and great fun is had by all. Thirteen episodes were produced.
Gemini Man was a third attempt at this theme.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


With this unbelievably long opening sequence, viewers were introduced to Manimal. With the amazing power to transform into any animal, he always seemed to end up turning into a black panther or hawk.
Part of the early 80s Brandon Tartikoff NBC makeover, following through on this premise was just too expensive for a network TV show and it only lasted eight episodes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

1981-Harper Valley

This has got to be the first TV show based on a movie based on a song ever.
The 1978 movie was pretty funny from what I remember, at least it was in the 70s. The movie shot up in popularity when aired on TV, so NBC thought they would have a hit show on their hands.
Barbara Eden reprised her role from the movie as the outspoken Stella Johnson of the song who turned out to be more principled than the hypocritical PTA that was critical of her.
The whole PTA aspect of the show was eventually dropped when producers realized they had carried that angle about as far as they could go with it. Later episodes focused around the relationship between Stella and her daughter, and (shark jump moment) a new character was introduced; wacky uncle Buster.

Friday, October 19, 2007

1974-Korg: 70,000 B.C.

This was a Hanna-Barbera live action show that aired on Saturday mornings in 1974 and 75.
I have not been able to find much information on this series, it is omitted from one of my reference books and there is no Wikipedia entry.
This was a serious attempt to depict the struggle for survival of a Neanderthal family, "based on assumptions and theories drawn from artifacts." The American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History both were consultants on this show.
Not sure if this could get produced as kid's TV in today's political climate.
Records differ on the number of episodes aired, IMDB says 16 episodes, my book says 24.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

1979-Hello, Larry

This was one of a string of attempts to establish a successful McLean Stevenson series for NBC and undoubtedly the best, which is not saying much. Although a talented actor, as we could see in M*A*S*H, his roles after Hello, Larry were relegated to that of the TV guest star.
Larry Adler was recently divorced and now a single parent of two teenage daughters. He moves from LA to Portland where he has a radio talk show and early episodes centered around his radio show and his on-air smart remarks to callers. Later, the show became more like other sitcoms and focused more around his home life raising his daughters and dealing with his apartment neighbors.
Notable probably only for it's very early use of the TV crossover, where it was presented that Hello, Larry and Diff'rent Strokes existed in the same TV sitcom universe, a technique used commonly today.
Beginning as a mid-season replacement in 1979, a total of 33 episodes aired.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


In this show, Lucan was a 10 year old boy found by hunters in Minnesota who apparently had been raised by wolves. He is taken to a research center and taught the ways of man. Ten years pass. Now a 20 year old man, he searches for his natural parents. After a few episodes, the Fugitive element has to be added and he was pursued by those who would still imprison him.
Storyline continuity suffered greatly after this element was added to the show.
After the 90 minute pilot film, 11 episodes aired.

Monday, October 15, 2007

1980-Beyond Westworld

I totally forgot about this show until I saw it on YouTube.
Beyond Westworld was based on the Westworld/Futureworld movies where robots went berserk and started killing guests of a theme park.
Scientist Simon Quaid reprogrammed the Westworld robots "to take over the world and turn it into a utopian society." Oooo-kay.
Sharp-eyed viewers might spot Cassandra Peterson (Elvira) in the opening credits. Connie Sellecca's character is named Pam, same as in Greatest American Hero. Odd.
Viewers apparently didn't much go for this show, and CBS only aired three of five episodes that were produced.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

1979-Salvage 1

Once upon a time a junkman had a dream. So he put together a team: an ex-astronaut, a fuel expert; they built a rocket ship and they went to the moon! Who knows what they'll do next?
Groan. The quite preposterous pilot movie ("Salvage") had Andy Griffith as the leader of this team. I remember a couple of plot points from it, like the rocket ship was built out of junk Nasa threw away, to calculate guidance and trajectory, they hacked into an aerospace company computer system over a phone line, and the vehicle did a soft re-entry and touchdown in a city park.
Subsequent episodes featured the team going on exotic missions to retrieve oil from dried-out oil wells, diamonds from an active volcano, icebergs from the polar ice cap, going back into space to retrieve satellites, and so on.
Eighteen episodes were produced after the pilot but the last four were never aired until the show was rerun in the 90s. The series has not been released to DVD, but a couple of the episodes are available on Sony's 'manufacture on demand' service.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

1977-James At 15

This was a late entry to the 'relevance era' of television. James at 15 was an honest attempt to portray real-life 1970s issues as they related to fifteen year old James Hunter of the title.
Played by ubiquitous 70s everyteen Lance Kerwin, James and his family had just moved to Boston and had to deal with everyday life. This show laid it on thick. Teenage alcoholism, VD (what we called STIs back then), teens dying of cancer, teenage sex, cults, this show tried to tackle everything. James lost his virginity in the controversial tenth episode after which the show was renamed James At 16.
Initially a two-hour TV movie, 20 additional episodes aired.

1984-V the Series

V the series was a follow-up to two highly successful miniseries that came before it.
I still remember the first one, in 1983 it was a television event, scoring high in the tv ratings at the time. Remember, this was before the home video revolution really took off, cable was only starting to become popular, and the movie blockbuster phenomenon had only started about 7 years prior. Seeing big theatrical movies debut for free on broadcast television was still a big deal. Now TV producers were getting in on the act producing high quality original movies to premiere on broadcast television. Roots, Shogun, The Winds of War. V.
The overall story is an allegory for fascism/Nazism. I mean, down to the Visitor emblem worn on all their uniforms. Some elements of this remained in the series, but were overshadowed by the sci-fi action themes present in most episodes.
Each episode would open with retired newscaster Howard K. Smith reading reports of resistance against the Visitors around the globe. Nineteen episodes were made before cancellation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Voyagers! was an family adventure that established that a group of time-travelers kept history on the 'right' course. It evidently filled NBC's need for 6pm educational programming: Time travel + a kid= family fun! Each week they would tag the credits with actor Meeno Peeluce saying: "If you want to learn more about {whoever appeared in the show}, take a voyage down to your public library; it's all in books!"
Voyagers would have an Omni time travel device and a guidebook. In the pilot episode, Bogg loses his book when he dives out a window to save Jeffrey, who becomes his guide to history.
Meeno Peeluce, who was a frequent TV guest star in the 80s, actually became a history teacher for a time at Hollywood High School. It's a tragedy what happened to his co-star Jon-Erik Hexum.
Twenty episodes were produced.

1976-Monster Squad

Thumbing through my reference books, I came across this one. Admittedly I never saw this or independently remember it. And of course, it has nothing to do with the 1987 movie of the same name.
Fred Grandy starred as Walt, a criminology student working as a night watchman at a wax museum. He invented a 'crime computer' and it's 'oscillating vibrations' brought to life the wax statues of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. Hoping to make up for their past misdeeds, they team up with Walt to fight crime independently of the police. The tone of the show was like the 60s Batman series.
I can't find any information on how long the series ran and it is even omitted from what I thought was my definitive reference book.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Another fantasy show cranked out by Glen A. Larson in the 80s was Automan!
Clearly inspired by Tron, Automan was a computer program that police computer programmer Walter Nebicher wrote and would manifest itself in the real world at night. So it was pretty much the reverse of Tron. An interesting concept but sorely underdeveloped as a concept and plot device. I still remember the extremely lame reasoning for his name in the pilot episode. Asked why he was named Automan, Walter responds "because you're the world's first truly automatic man." How can you argue with that logic?
Automan had a sidekick named Cursor, a free floating geometric blob of light that seemed to actually materialize into Automan, but still retain it's own form and character afterward. Cursor would materialize into vehicles for Automan and Walter to ride around in.
Occasionally Automan would absorb Walter into his physical form to protect him.
Thirteen episodes were produced.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

1973-Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Welcome to the bizarre world of (drug-induced?) Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning television.
Brothers Johnny and Scott meet Sigmund, outcast child sea monster that becomes their pet.
Episodes depicted their attempts to hide Sigmund and protect him from the devious efforts of his sea monster family. That weird kid from Family Affair played Johnny.
Season two got even more bizarre as Rip Taylor joined the cast as a magical 'Sea Genie' named Sheldon. Scary.
Twenty-nine episodes were produced.

Friday, October 5, 2007

1977-Amazing Spider-Man

Ah, yes. My favorite show at the time, well, this or Wonder Woman.
This show gets props for being the first live-action attempt at Spider-Man (Electric Company skits not included) and was part of a late 70s superhero tv fad.
Although it seemed to be a halfway decent attempt at the character, it quickly became a typical 70s tv show. Most characters from the comics were never used and key story points were changed. No super-villians ever showed up and Peter was stuck fighting 70s crime.
Stan Lee is reported to have not liked this adaptation, which did not help it's public perception.
Only 12 episodes were produced and several were doubled up and syndicated as tv movies for years.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

1974-Partridge Family 2200 AD

In the mid 70s there was a trend of making animated kid's versions of popular existing entertainment properties. This was done with varying degrees of success with Star Trek, My Favorite Martian, Addam's Family, Gilligan's Island and others.
Originally imagined to be an update of The Jetsons, CBS said to Joe Barbera, 'make it the Partridges and you've got the 9:30am time slot.'
Sixteen episodes aired on CBS on Saturday mornings in 1974 and 1975.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

1974-Planet of the Apes

Because five movies were not enough.
This was essentially a re-imagining of the original movie, continued as a series. It doesn't really fit into the continuity of the films; although vague references are made to astronauts that visited '10 years ago.' The humans in this version speak, unlike the films.
The series ran from September 13, 1974 to December 20, 1974; although fourteen episodes were produced, only 13 were originally aired; the 14th previously unseen "lost" episode was included in the DVD which was actually released.
I could not find the actual opening, the clip is a video tribute to the series.

1976-Gemini Man

Hello, I'm Ben Murphy and I'm Seventies Man! Back when digital watches were new and mysterious! And people wore two tone denim jackets!
Gemini Man starred Ben Murphy as secret agent Sam Casey who was injured in a diving accident which rendered him invisible. If you can suspend disbelief for that will have no problem with the rest of this series. He worked for a secret agency called INTERSECT (must be the same agency Chuck works for...or is that INTERACT?)
They stabilize his DNA to make him visible with a digital watch; if he turns off the stabilizer to be invisible more than 15 seconds a day, he'll remain invisible forever or die or was lame. Gemini Man lasted 11 episodes, 2 of which were edited into TV movies and shown in syndication. One was shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

1980-Galactica 1980

Battlestar Galactica was over, canceled, gone. For nine months there had been no new episodes.
So you can imagine the freak-out that Sunday morning of January 27, 1980 when I opened the TV listings and saw "Battlestar Galactica Finds Earth" listed for that night!
If only it had lived up to expectations. Oh, at first it was ok. Lorne Greene and Herb Jefferson, Jr were the only remaining stars from the original. Ok, understandable since a generation had passed since the adventures of Apollo and Starbuck and the battles with the Cylons. The fleet had finally found Earth! 1980 earth, for that matter, and in no position to defend itself against the Cylons if they showed up.
Footage from the movie Earthquake is shown on a viewscreen to Adama to demonstrate what would happen if the Cylons attacked LA.
Adama seemed to take orders from some kid named Dr. Zee who was weirdly played by two different actors (?!) The decision is made to send two Coloniel Warriors as scouts to earth to check things out. This led to typical fish out of water scenes as the two had to interact with people of modern day earth.
There was some time travel involved as they went to the past to stop the renegade Commander Xavier, and episodes quickly degenerated into early evening kiddie fare as a dozen or so kids from the fleet come to earth posing as a scout troop. I'm not kidding.
It seems many working on the show hated it and were hoping for it's cancellation and Universal was reportedly having Galactica 1980 absorb costs for other productions since they knew it wouldn't last long. The long sordid tale of the production of Galactica 1980 can be read at Battlestar Wiki.
After 10 episodes, it was canceled in May. Astoundingly, it was recently announced that it's being released to DVD on December 26.

Monday, October 1, 2007

1980-Here's Boomer

With two successful Benji movies already released, and a third headed to theaters that year, Here's Boomer was NBC's answer to Benji and 7 pm family programming. A mixed breed stray who had no owner and met new people each week, he never stayed long but usually managed to help someone before moving on.
Play the embarrassingly bad opening theme song above. (What's with the image quality on this one, are people pointing video cameras at the TV?)
Here's Boomer aired 24 episodes spread out just over three years.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

1982-Powers of Matthew Star

Ah, yes, 1980s Friday night TV.
Matthew Star was a normal high school student except for the fact that he was an alien prince whose powers included telepathy, telekinesis, astral projection and blow-dried 80s hair.
Louis Gossett, Jr was Walt, his guardian and teacher.
This show was delayed a year due to Peter Barton being seriously burned while filming one of the early episodes. Oddly, one week after after a full season of 21 episodes was run, the pilot episode was then aired which called the main character David Star instead of Matthew and didn't even feature the Walt character.

Friday, September 28, 2007

1985-Misfits of Science

In the mid 80s there were a number of 'science' themed movies. Weird Science, My Science Project, Real Genius...this show was part of a resurgence of fantasy-themed programming of the same time period.
The Misfits of Science were a team that would drive around in an ice cream truck and fight crime!
Dean Paul Martin played Dr. Billy Hayes, the non-powered yet leader of the team. He was a research scientist at the Humanidyne Institute.
Kevin Peter Hall played Dr. Elvin "El" Lincoln, Billy's colleague and close friend. El was a towering black man who gave himself the ability to shrink to doll size via hormonal treatments. The character struggled socially, and despite being very tall, he played basketball poorly.
Mark Thomas Miller was Johnny B, a rock and roll musician who had electrical powers and some limited superspeed abilities and was vulnerable to water.
Courteney Cox played Gloria Dinallo, a troubled telekinetic teen with a history of juvenile delinquency.
Max Wright (later from Alf) portrayed the director of the Humanidyne Institute. Unlike the other cast members, he was not actually considered to be one of the Misfits.
And in the first episode only, Mickey Jones played Ice Man. The reason they would drive around in an ice cream truck was because Ice Man would die if he got too warm, so they kept him in the freezer. He was a pointless character, so was dropped after the pilot episode.

1983-Whiz Kids

Following the success of that summers hit film WarGames, CBS aired Whiz Kids starring that kid from Little House on the Prairie, Matthew Laborteaux, as lead character Richie Adler, defacto leader of a group of kids interested in computers. From what I recall, his dad was away in Saudi Arabia for work and would send back castoff computer equipment from the company he worked for. Richie had interconnected different computers and peripherals and built a talking computer, Ralf (would have been a little more realistic if they had left that out.)
Richie was an amateur detective of sorts and was helped by a reporter friend played by Max Gail. Each week the kids would get into some sort of trouble or discover some criminal activity, often involving technology or computers and would use, you guessed it, computers to get the bad guys.
The series ran for 18 episodes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

1977-Fantastic Journey

Continuing the late 70s fantasy era of television, The Fantastic Journey (not to be confused with Fantastic Voyage, a 1966 film) was sci-fi adventure about a group of university scientists whose boat is lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Finding themselves on an uncharted island, they meet other characters from different places and times.
Varian (Jared Martin) was a telepath from the 23rd century (popular century it seems) who wielded a tuning fork at bad guys. He would later use the tuning fork as a memory tool years later in War of the Worlds.
Liana (Katie Saylor) was the daughter of an Atlantean and a space alien!
Scott (Ike Eisenmann) was a 13 year old boy from the present with his father, Dr. Paul Jordan.
If you needed a teenage boy character in the 70s, it was played by either Ike Eisenmann or Lance Kerwin, it seemed. Eisenmann was in no less than 27 tv shows and movies in the 1970s alone.
Roddy McDowall completed the cast as a renegade scientist from the 60s.
Episodes would deal with their encounters with different creatures and civilizations and quickly took on a Star Trek-type plot formula. The group encounter a culture that has been subverted in some way, and they must either defeat the bad guy or show the misguided soul the error of their ways. Lasting only 10 episodes, it was canceled by NBC in April of 1977.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

1977-Logan's Run

Originally Logan's Run was a fairly decent 1976 movie starring Michael York.
This 1977 TV take-off essentially remade the movie as a 90-minute premiere with Gregory Harrison as Logan5. Each week they would encounter the strange remnants of human civilization located outside the city of domes. As was extremely typical for the time, they were chased Fugitive-style by Francis the Sandman.
The series lasted 13 episodes before being given the boot.