The Six Million Dollar man- A Bionic Christmas Carol

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1976

I know that I promised a Bewitched Christmas episode, but I changed my mind and went with this one instead. For you Bewitched fanatics this one does have the second Darrin playing a major role.

Steve Austin gives Oscar a present and then screws up because he gets an assignment right before Christmas. What a Bionic hothead. Steve goes to inspect the operations at a contractor named Budge (Ray Walston-My favorite Martian, Fast times at Ridgemont high). He’s a real grumpy pants and all around not so nice guy. He looks like he lives off skunk cabbage and old pickles. After an accident at the plant Steve starts looking at records to see what is going on here. Although Budge is not dishonest he is very cheap to the extreme and gets his standards for his company just above passing. Steve uses his powers to crush Budge to dust…just kidding. Budge also treats his employees like dirt including Bob Crandall ( Dick Sargent-Bewitched). After seeing how stubborn and nasty Budge is Steve decides to use his powers to try and manipulate influence the nasty old guy. Budge gets sick from taking too  much of his medicine-serves you right, Mr. Awful. Steve uses a ten buck Santa suit and his Bionic powers to show the tightwad the error of his ways and what could be if he keeps on being a butthole. Budge ends the nastiness and starts being nice. Steve fixes Oscars present when he gets back to the office. Hooray! Roll the holly jolly credits.

The negatives- There’s no menacing robots, super spies or bigfoot in this one so some fans may not be thrilled by it. Given the plot you know there is less action here than in a normal episode.

The positives-In addition to Walston and Sargent other familiar faces include Antoinette Bower as Mrs. Crandall. You know her from Prom Night and lots of episodes of shows including Star Trek and the Twilight Zone. Two of the three Crandall kids weren’t far off from being on shows they would be known for. Little Adam Rich would be Eight is enough in less than a year and Quinn Cummings would end up on Family for two seasons. Other 70’s shows like Sanford and son and The Odd Couple would do Christmas Carol episodes, but they comedies so it was a little more unusual for an action show to try it. It’s kind of corny, but decent. Ray Walston helps the role greatly. I also liked the scene where Steve is buying toys in a makeshift store. We see Lincoln Logs, a Jaws game and right behind Steve is a Six Million Dollar Man action figure. Also at least the try to make it look like Winter with appropriate trees and all. I watching a Christmas episode of Dennis the menace recently and they acting like it was cold as they went past trees filled with leaves. Come on, at least try and make it look cold. Overall a decent episode of the Six Million Dollar Man.

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Monster Squad-The Astrologer

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1976

Guests-

Jonathan Harris as the Astrologer. He was in everything from the Twilight Zone to Bug’s Life, but you likely know him most as Dr. Smith from Lost in space.

James Gammon as Pollox. Gammon was a hard working character actor likely most known as manager Lou Brown in Major League.

Sandy McPeak as Castor. McPeak had over 100 credits and was in numerous shows and films such as Patton and Kelly’s Heroes.

Caren Kaye plays TV hose Mimi Falters. Kaye always seemed to end up in shows that didn’t last long. I remember her most as Jason Bateman’s mom in “It’s your move”.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss Frank Cady playing a farmer. You’ll know Cady most for having played store owner Sam Drucker on Green Acres.

TV personality the Astrologer is always wrong, but gets Walt and the Monster Squad nervous when he predicts a horrific earthquake. The villain and his hench dudes steal and old atomic bomb with the plan of causing an earthquake by detonating it. He thinks he will then make money from people paying him for his predictions. The squad get win of the plot and set out to stop it. Drac goes to find the bomb and Walt looks up to defuse a bomb. Bruce and Frank go to stop the Astrologer. Drac finds the bomb which will soon blow, but Walt walks him through the steps and they think they stop bomb but later it turns out it was a dud anyhow. The Astrologer is not only bad at predictions, but he is bad at fighting as well as even with a 3-2 advantage he and his guys get pounded by Frank and Bruce. The bad guys are stopped, the bomb is no longer a threat so roll the credits.

The negatives-The plot is fairly thin on this one.

The positives-Jonathan Harris is of course over the top which makes it funny.  Nothing special, but decent silliness.

Monster Squad-The Skull

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1976

Guests-Geoffrey Lewis as the Skull. Lewis is a veteran character actor with over 200 credits. He’s likely best known for the several films that he did with Clint Eastwood in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Frank is having his birthday party when the power goes out. Turns out the evil Skull along with his lab assistant Igor are trying to revive a chubby and kind of dirty mummy. They succeed but take out the power in the area. They go on a small scale reign of terror and the mummy knocks down a martial arts dude. Walt has to use bicycle power to run their crime computer during the power outage. The Monster Squad go in search of the source of the outage. Frank gets taken by the baddies. They strap him down and try to drain his power with their machine, but instead in just revs him up so he snaps his bonds. Drac and Bruce the werewolf show up and it’s a three on three monster fight. The Skull and his group are obviously outmatched so he takes off into the graveyard. Bruce gives chase and the Skull gets the jump on him, but Bruce wins in the end. The Monster Squad and Walt unwind the mummy to see what’s left and they find nothing. They are left to ponder what was inside those wraps? Roll the credits and play the Monster Squad theme bump-bump-bump-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bump-bump-bump.

The negatives-It’s silly as always with perhaps less of a plot than usual.

The positives-Geoffrey Lewis is one of my favorite character actors of all time so he is great in this. I liked the addition of a mummy and the whole monsters as villains part. The fight at the graveyard was cool too for a change as it’s usually just a battle inside the villain’s headquarters.

I’ll have one more episode review out tomorrow.

Monster Squad-Ultra Witch

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1976

Guests-

Julie Newmar as Ultra witch. You know Julie most as Catwoman on the 60’s Batman show. She was also very busy in TV in the 1960’s in shows like Star Trek, F-troop and many others.

Johnny Brown as Dandy Andy-He spent a few years on Laugh-in and you may know him as Bookman from Good Times.

Ultra Witch and her henchman Toil and Trouble have taken much of the world’s milk supply by drying up cows (not exactly sure how that was done). This has upset Walt and his monster friends because they like cookies. It has also hurt their friend Dandy Andy and his cookie business. The monsters see Toil when he gets cookies knowing something must up for a guy to get cookies when the milk supply is supposed to drained. Dracula follows him to the lair of Ultra Witch. She is nice to Dracula at first, but eventually Drac is onto Ultra Witch and her evil plotting ways. Frank and Bruce (the werewolf) show up, but Ultrawitch has  her Ronald Raygun (yes, really even before he was president) and uses it to turn the monsters into cardboard stand-ups. She then sends them to Dandy Andy where Walt recovers them, but he knows that he has to find a way to turn them back. Meanwhile Ultra Witch hatches another plot and starts turning all the world’s sodas into castor oil. Walt shows up to see Ultrawitch while pretending to be a reporter. He sort of has her fooled and when she leaves the room he brings the cardboard monsters and gets them turned back 3D and normal and all. Toil and Trouble try to defeat them with their magic brooms which look like regular brooms only with colored circles glues on. The monsters win-hurray-but then Ultra Witch tries to zap them with the Ronald Raygun! They use a mirror to reflect the ray and turn her to cardboard. Oh yeah, take that! Frank admits to drinking a soda that was castor oil and he feels icky and that’s about it so roll the credits.

The negatives-This isn’t any more silly than the rest of the episodes for whatever that’s worth.

The positives-Julie Newmar definitely makes this one of the best episodes. The plot is goofy, but she plays it off well and she and the monsters go with it. I enjoyed Johnny Brown too even though it was a small role. The Ronald Raygun weapon was funny just because of the name.

 

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This episode was originally shown the day before Halloween.

Next up I’m hoping to review the Skull episode tomorrow.

Monster squad (no, not that one-the other one)

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Back in the mid-70’s while I was eating whatever sugary breakfast cereal we had in the house I was watching all kind of stuff on Saturday morning. I  probably watched ever came on whether it was good or bad, but a few shows really drew me in. One such show was the Monster Squad. The 13 episodes were shown on NBC from September to December of 1976 and then re-shown through to September of 1977. Walt (Fred Grandy later of Love Boat) was a criminology student and night watchmen at a wax museum. He had a crime computer that he could use to bring wax figures of Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the wolfman to life. The monsters would fight crime as week after week a new villain would pop up to cause trouble frequently a monster type villain like a mummy or a witch. The monster heroes had their own utility belts they wore and a black monster van that they used to travel to emergencies in. Stanley Ralph Ross who worked on the 60’s Batman, the Monkees and Wonder Woman had a hand in this show. It’s comparable to Batman only much more on the silly side. When I was a kid I took to monsters a superheroes right away.  The villains were over the top and the plots were frequently ridiculous. It came out on DVD some years ago and I bought it and was glad to see these episodes again. I remember in second grade we would have a Christmas party and everyone would buy a gift, wrap it and then you drew names to get one. I don’t remember what I bought, but I think it may have a pack of multiple Hot Wheels cars. Anyone like fours kids got the same Star Wars board game. I got a Monster Squad board game and was thrilled. One particularly worthless second grader said something like “haha, you got that game instead of Star Wars”. I was like “have you watched this show?” he stumbled and said no and then told him it was great and I would much rather have a Monster Squad game over Star Wars. Anyways I hope to get to reviewing three episodes of this show over the next few days. Hope you enjoy them.

 

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TV Terror Thursday-Little house on the praire

 

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The monster of walnut grove
1976

It’s Halloween Eve as opposed to the day before which would have been Halloween Eve Eve. Anyways Laura scares her sister Carrie by reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to her-take that, little kid. Laura and Mary get to go vandalize Olsen’s store by soaping the windows, but it’s okay because the Olsen’s let people do this. While there Laura thinks she sees Mr. Olsen cut his wife’s head off with a sword-kawhack! Come on, Laura that couldn’t be but she thinks it is. She tries to convince Mary that it happened and Mary makes some snooty comment, although Mary always seem to be on her high horse so nothing new there. Laura has a nightmare about Mrs. Olsen Laura convinces her friend Carl due to the fact that Mrs. Olsen left on a coach to go see her mother so she’s gone. Really Mr. Olsen only cut off mannequin head, but if Laura knew then this would have been a seven minute show so with the misunderstanding. Laura tells Nellie and Willie what she saw and they think she’s been sniffing wild berries or something. Back at the Olsen household Nels spills blood sauce on his wife’s apron ooopsie. When Nellie and Willie find it they think maybe Laura was right. Nellie says something to her father about it and what Laura said and he says “are you insane?”. No, actually he tells them what really happened and asks them to tell Laura. They say yes, but of course we know they won’t set her straight-the little skunks. Meanwhile Laura has a dream that Mr. Olsen is a ghoul with nasty teeth and he serves up Mrs. Olsen’s screaming head on a platter. This scared Laura so badly that she didn’t want to go out in the dark to use the outhouse so she holds it all night and then goes and pees a river once morning comes around. Laura and Carl are freaking out now as Willie and Nellie play them like violins. Willie says he heard digging in their basement and thinks his dad was burying something so he invites Laura an Carl over to be scared to death. They reluctantly show up shaking like leaves. Willie brings them in and takes them down to the basement so they can soil themselves they can see what is going on. Of course Nellie is down there waiting under a white sheet. She jumps out and scares Laura and Carl who run back up the steps quickly, but thinking the ghost got Willie already Carl stacks heavy boxes over the hatch trapping Willie and Nelson in the cellar. Mrs. Olson shows up giving Laura and Carl another scare, but they accidentally run into Mrs. Olsen and knock her out. Mr. Olsen shows up and wonders what in the blazes is going on? He tells Laura and Carl about the mannequin head and that Nellie and Willie were supposed to tell them about that. Laura says they’ll go tell Willie and Nellie that Mr. Olsen wants to see them. Carl has a good idea and they go with. They toss the mannequin head down the steps which despite the fact that Nellie knew this wasn’t her mom’s head earlier she still screams like crazy. Laura and Carl head home and run into the headless horseman on the way home. Wait, what the heck? Yep, headless horseman and you thought crapped their drawers earlier.

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The negatives-Just some holes like Nellie being scared of a mannequin head she’d seen before. Also it’s supposed to be late fall in Minnesota, but it’s still fairly green because it’s really summer in California.

The positives-Although this show can be sickening sweet it could also be kind of creepy as we have here. I saw this one probably when it was first on and have vivid memories of it. The idea of scaring other kids and being scared is always appealing. I love the basement scene and the headless horseman despite the fact that this last figure’s appearance makes no sense except that Laura was reading about him earlier in the episode.

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The six million dollar man-The secret of bigfoot

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1976

 

When I was in kindergarten this was probably the highlight of the 1975-76 television season or at least I thought it was. So did my brother actually he was a much bigger fan of the Six million dollar man than I was. He was in middle school then and it was probably his favorite show while my favorites at the time were likely Scooby Doo and The land of the lost. Anyways not content to just take on evil geniuses and foreign spies Steve Austin winds up taking on some different adversaries in this two parter.

Two of Steve Austin’s friends who are also geologists vanish while setting up earthquake sensors. Could it have been the Loch Ness monster? Nope, wrong country. The abominable snowman? Nope, too far south. Chupacabara? Nope, too far west. Plus the big old footprint they find leads them to one only logical, scientific conclusion-it must be Bigfoot. The dude from the vanished couple comes back, but not the woman. The dude is all hazy and not a lot of help. Fortunately Bigfoot comes to them for an attack. Steve Austin does battle with him and rips one of the fuzzy fiend’s arms right off! Leading to the assumption that the effects on this show are really cheap  beast is really a robot of sorts. Old fuzzy runs off and Steve follows. He ends up getting knocked out, but when he wakes up he’s told some tale about being in an alien colony under the earth and stuff about earthquakes and volcanoes. Wait, you sure this isn’t a dream because it sure sounds like a messed up crazy dream. Only it’s not and Steve works with the alien and the Bigfoot robot (created to scare off people from the aliens hideout). There’s lots of talking, cheap sets shaking about and Bigfoot being cooperative so yeah the first part is way better. Everything turns out okay but with good ratings we know that Bigfoot will be back.

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The negatives-The time after we find out what Bigfoot is are not as strong as the parts before we know what he is. As a whole it’s not as good as I thought it was as a kid.

The positives-There is enough going to make a two parter decent enough. Andre the Giant was a good choice for Bigfoot.

The Six Million Dollar might be many people’s choice for best sci-fi show of the 70’s. It was certainly popular for most of it’s run and it ran five years so longer than any other sci-fi show that decade. Frequently the action elements outweighed the usually slim sci-fi parts. This two parter goes more into the sci-fi world then this show normally did and they handled it alright despite cheap sets and that awful wig that Stefanie Powers had to wear.

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Halloween memories 1976

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In first grade back in the 1970’s they still allowed kids to have Halloween celebration in school. Oh, the horror of permitting the praise of a pagan holiday during the school day. Anyways in 1st and 2nd grade my school had a costume parade. Everyone got in the costumes they brought to school and one class at a time paraded around in the gym for everyone else to see. I don’t recall if there was any costume judging or not. Okay it 1st grade and back then the Halloween costumes at the store were these plastic masks with a rubber band to go around the back of your head and these weird looking costumes with wild often so greatly drawn designs on the shirts. I’m sure I asked my parents for some kind of super hero costume from the store, but my parents trying to save where could so I knew than a new Halloween costume was not coming my way. We went to the mission store (a thrift store we had around back then) and found a Lancelot Link costume that fit and was in good shape. I’m pretty sure it looked just like the one pictured above. Those now familiar with the show it was a talking monkey secret agent type thing. It had been off the air for years at that time however a local UHF channel played it reruns after school. So even though almost everyone else had current character costumes there were a few kids who complemented on being the only one to have this costume. Of course they didn’t know that my parents were being cheap as possible. Oh, well I still remember this Halloween very well.

Poster Postings-Land of the Minotaur AKA:The Devil’s Men

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Here is an example of a good poster for a very bad movie. The 1976 joint UK/Greek production Land of the minotaur was a complete disaster and it’s terribly dull. Even Peter Cushing couldn’t save it. This one sheet cost me about $7 probably 12 years ago. Some doofus put pin holes around the minotaur’s head and there is cracking around the creases, but still worth what I paid for it.

A*P*E

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Ten tons of rotten gorilla poo is more like it.

1976

Backstory-So supposedly here’s what happened-everyone knew that Dino Delaurentis had a re-make of King Knong coming out around Christmas, 1976. Well some people decided to make their own big monkey film with an American and South Korean cast with it filmed in Korea. It was also done in 3-D. Some sources says the title actually stands for Attacking Primate Monster. On a teaser poster they called it The New King Kong which earned them a law suit from Delaurentis. It was also reportedly known by all of the following title at various and in different countries-Super King Kong, King Kong Returns, Hideous Mutant, The King Ape and Attack of the giant, horny gorilla.

Who’s in this?

Joann Kerns (billed as Joanna DeVarona) as Marilyn an American actress who gets nabbed by the beast. This was her first film and soon afterwards she was landing roles on various shows like Emergency, Rhoda, The Love Boat and more before playing the mom on Growing Pains for seven years. In more recent years she has spent more time as a director.

Rod Arrants as reporter Tome Rose. Arrants was in various things for several decades with his most regular work coming in soap operas in the 70’s and 80’s.

Alex Nicol as Colonel Davis who seems as bored as the audience will feel. Nicol worked regularly as bad guys and heroes in action films and shows in the 50’s and 60’s.

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Keep the camera moving and they may not notice how cheap the suit is. Too late.

What’s this about? Two dudes are hanging out on a ship when bam a dude in a moth eaten monkey suit busts out and the ship explodes. Monkey  giant type person goes and gets all soggy in the water and then wrestles a fake shark that looks like it’s on it’s last leg. Eventually he comes a shore and starts stomping villages. Meanwhile Marilyn is a famous American actress coming to film a movie in Korea and she meets up with old flame and turtleneck fan Tom. Of course guy in ratty ape suit grabs the only blond in South Korea and takes off with her. Members of both the American and South Korean army go after Mr. Monkey pants. I think during the confrontation the director went “wave your arms around wildly, Ape but don’t hurt the helipcoptor because it’s the only one we got”. Of course they also should have said don’t reach too high or the audience will see that the sleeves on the suit are not long enough for the ape actors arms. We get a bunch of footage of people runnning over and over, lots of soldiers loading into helicoptors and some strange dialog on phone calls with army officers. At some point the army decides that they have had enough of this mediocre monkey and they are going to go after him with their toy tanks and like a dozen soldiers. The giant gorilla throws rocks at the soldiers although some of the rocks are on visible strings and some bounce like superballs. The fuzzy fiend fights the same toy tank over and over. At some point it was deemed time to end the film so the horrible hariy is taken down by toy army. Roll the credits please.

The negatives-The acting, effects, and music are all subpar however none of those are the worst part of this film. The mighty Peking man suffered from some of those same things and it copies King Kong too, but it’s a fun film. The difference is that The mighty Peking man tries hard to be entertaning while this film just feels like they have 20 minutes material and they are trying desperately to stretch it into being film length. This is beyond abd and I don’t mean so bad it’s good. This is so bad that was falling asleep during giant monster fight scenes and I wasn’t sleepy before the movie.

The positives-I kind of like the falling rocks, but they showed them for too long so you began to wonder why they were bouncing so much. I sort of the liked failed 3D attempt of the rocks coming towards you because it showed the strings. However they used the same shot over and over so then I got tired of it. That’s it.

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Yeah, the movie stunk like a dirty diaper under the noonday sun, but we got our paychecks.