Continued next Baturday!
Ugh, Googling Wild Wild West brings up that absolutely AWFUL Will Smith movie of the same name-- shiver!
WILD WILD WEST ran from 1965 to about 1970 and starred Robert Conrad and Russ Martin as a pair of secret agents in the old west. Yup it's James Bond meets steampunk sci fi meets the old west. Conrad is Jim West and Martin is Artemus Gordon. West is the fighter and the guy who gets into all the scrapes, while Martin uses disguise and his wits to balance the team.
It's a great show once it switches to color, the first season is Black and White, but there's something lacking in those episodes-- I think the color plays an important role in these 60s TV shows and with the exception of THE MUNSTERS which was rightfully in Black and White Color is what these shows deserve.
The show is action, with a bit of tongue in cheek humor and features some great guest stars as the baddies including Victor Buono (who was great as King Tut on Batman), Boris Karloff and Michael Dunn who was a little person who plays the absolutely evil Dr Loveless, who is Jim West's arch enemy. Imagine a show today with a little person as a villain! That's what makes this show so great.
It's been released on DVD in a complete set and it also airs once in a while on MeTV. It's also available on some streaming services.
All right, this one might be the geekiest link I have in a long line of geeky links. SERIAL REPORT is a complete behind the scenes wealth of information on movie serials, and they are linked to WESTERN CLIPPINGS which if (like me) you like old Westerns is equally loaded with hours and hours of time wasting material.
My love of serials started with Friday night and Saturday afternoon showings of the FLASH GORDON and BUCK ROGERS serials on Channel 56 back in the 70s. I didn't know they were serials, I thought they were TV shows not realizing that there was no TV in the 1930s. But when you're a kid you really don't think about this kind of thing. It never occurred to me that THE THREE STOOGES were doing what they did in the episodes I laughed endlessly at in the 30s and 40s-- I didn't notice that the cars or the clothes were old fashioned, or even that it was in black and white-- I think we didn't have a color TV until I was around 12 or 13.
Movie serials, in case you need some info, were shown one chapter a week along with usually two feature films, cartoons, short subjects (like the Three Stooges), newsreels and prevues of coming attractions.
Each episode of the serial ended with a cliffhanger-- meaning the heroes were in quite a spot and suddenly the screen would go black with TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK emblazoned before your very eyes, so that you would return the following week to see how they got out of the jam.
Then in 1974 I was doing my regular comic book shopping at West Side Pharmacy on Pleasant Street in the Big Woo when I came upon a giant sized Batman Comic Book.
Now this book was HUGE to a kid-- 11x17 tabloid size, and it's price was also huge. Comic books at the time were either 25 or 35c for a 36ish page comic book and this one was three or four times that-- but I had to have it. BATMAN OF THE MOVIES caught my eye too-- because as far as I knew then he'd only been on TV.
Inside were some great stories including some by Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang from the mid to late 40s as well as the greatest Joker story ever told from Batman #4 -- THE JOKER'S CRIME CIRCUS (more on that in a minute).
I read this book page by page, loving every bit of it-- but where was the BATMAN OF THE MOVIES article?
Inside back cover--
Was this it?
What a gyp! It's Batman from the Batman TV show, just like I thought-- and how is this BATMAN OF THE MOVIES??? It's not even the Movie Batman from 1966 which featured a different Catwoman. Why who do they think---
In the top right corner-- there's ANOTHER Batman and Robin?? Looking at it now you might giggle at how goofy the costumes look, but to me and at the time and even now I thought they were closer in spirit to the Batman I knew-- longer ears, a little more muscle-- and just a touch of scary.
I must have read that descriptor line underneath the photo a hundred times-- LEWIS WILSON AS BATMAN AND DOUGLAS CROFT AS ROBIN IN THE COLUMBIA MOVIE SERIAL "THE BATMAN" (1943). Little did I know that Wilson went to school in Worcester.
But that photo launched a quest to see that serial that would last nearly ten years. In those days before home video your only option was a projector and film. I only knew about those 8mm films in the back of FAMOUS MONSTERS MAGAZINE, they were edited and I think silent and regardless Mom wouldn't let me buy a projector so I could watch them so the quest was stalled.
A few years later I'm eating at the brand new first in the city BURGER KING which was on Main Street right smack in the middle of downtown. I'm enjoying this new burger with friends and they are showing an old movie with a projector and a screen for the few patrons in the dining room (yeah I don't know why but I was there). On the screen is a black and white film which features an older man and a younger man in an upper class home. As I chew on my burger (this was a period in my life when I chewed) I'm thinking to myself "Boy don't these guys look like they could be Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson!" and sure enough, they pull costumes out of a filing cabinet and in the next scene they are driving off as Batman and Robin.
Only they aren't the Batman and Robin from the picture above, but ANOTHER Batman and Robin.
Now THIS Batman and Robin I did laugh at-- those ill fitting costumes and rabbit like ears on Batman were too much for me and it cooled the desire to find that original Batman film.
But still it was there.
Home video came about, and you could buy a brand new VHS player at a store at Webster Square for $150 which seemed like a bargain to me, but I was in no rush, until I walked into FABULOUS FICTION BOOKS over on Main Street and saw a big poster that advertised COMIC BOOK MOVIE SERIALS ON VHS!!
I asked Bob Jennings, the owner, if this included the 1943 Batman serial and he told me that it did indeed, so I ordered it-- for $90. Ordered it, because as he explained, it would take several days for it to come in as he had to order it.
I ran out and bought a player, hooked it up and proceeded to call Bob every other day to see if the serial had come in. Interestingly, he tried to convince me to get the 1949 version of Batman, which was the floppsy mopsy version I'd seen at Burger King, because he said it was 100x better than the '43. I went with instinct and stuck to the '43, deciding I'd get the '49 sometime after I could save some more money.
Weeks went by and finally the serial came in and I was shocked it was on THREE VHS Tapes. Apparently a full serial was close to five hours long!
On that sunny summer day I went home, drew all the shades and watched the heck out of it and I thought it was the greatest thing ever-- Imagine how great the '49 would be then!
Side note-- the '49 is infantile and silly-- the acting is bad and Robin is played by a 26 year old "boy"-- I like it for it's Ed Wood quality of production but it's a weak sister to the '43 original.
From there, Bob invited me to join the Serial Collector's Club where a group of us would pool our money to buy old serials from various sources and then watch them at each other's houses every month. I was the youngest member there by 30 years.
But it was good times, and it ignited a love for serials that I have to this day, now owning well over 260 of them on DVD and Blu Ray.
I've been itching to get to this one-- first appearance of The Bat's Cave and Alfred, Bruce's faithful butler. In the '43 serial they called it "the Bat's Cave" by the way.
The name he chooses for himself is also an homage to the '43 Batman serial-- a favorite of mine.
I also seriously edited the size of Alfred's head in the final and now that I look at this, I think I should have left it. The original is posted here, the tweaked one is up right now at www.undercoverfish.com
I remember the days when you got the news one or two times a day, usually at 6 and 11 and on your local TV channel between reruns of GOMER PYLE and F-TROOP. You watched a guy in a suit sit at a desk with some bad graphics behind him and for 26 minutes he told you whatever it was that was going on the world, racial tensions, political corruption, inflation and trouble in the Middle East.
You can still do that I suppose, and I know for a fact in nursing homes this is still the norm, but for most of us the news is with us 24/7 and its a simple mouse click away. Trouble is with 24/7 news comes MORE news that we could ever (or should ever) ingest.
30 years later we are still talking about racial tensions, political corruption, inflation and trouble in the Middle East. Oh yeah, and North Korea is about to Nuke the West Coast.
Like everyone else, I'm not 100% happy with our political leaders and I think that will never happen unless I run and am elected to Pennsylvania Avenue-- but it is what it is, and I can tell you for a fact more news does not equate to more happiness.
You know what does? More Jonny Quest. I am taking a break from the news for a while (as best I can). I've done it before and I feel good. I'll find out about the North Korean attack on the US when I notice that strange green glow coming from the West.
I think the world will go on even if I'm not monitoring the news.
Well for any of you with money they want to invest, I want to develop a kids comic book/sort of regular book series which emphasizes the power of positive thinking and how it can even cause physical results. Studies show that if you are sick and can visualize the illness and see yourself fighting it that sickness lessens. I want to do this for kids with really serious illness and get it into hospitals and children's wards. It can make a difference. Contact me if you're interested.
- Fitness Drill This Week;
- SITUPS 30 per day
- WALK 3/4 mile everyday
- Stairs 5x up and down
- PLANK 1 minute and one half keep that back straight I said!
- Weights 12 reps each arm.
You can do this!