Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "The Doom Buggy" (November 2, 1994)

This episode of the Filmation live-action Saturday morning series Shazam (1974 – 1977) is titled “The Doom Buggy,” and frankly, that’s a bit of a melodramatic title for such a pedestrian adventure.

In “The Doom Buggy,” a boy named Don decides to drop out of school, over the protests of his friend, Cathy (Lisa Eilbacher).  Don thinks he doesn’t need an education, and already has the skills to be a great mechanic.  He’s made up his mind and can’t be swayed.

Then, while driving in his dune buggy in the desert, Don has an accident and damages Mentor’s RV.  The parts that Don needs to repair the RV are an hour away, but the young man proposes a short-cut and takes Billy Batson (Michael Gray) through a span of rough desert terrain called “Perdition Flats.”

The Elders have already told Billy that “Each of us, in his own way, is a teacher,” and so when Don’s dune buggy experiences difficulties in the harsh desert, Billy showcases his knowledge.  

When the buggy becomes lost, for instance, Billy shows Don how to create a makeshift compass in the sand, using a stick and sunlight.   The Elders had already prepared him for this eventuality too, informing him that a “dark shadow will show you the light.”

And then when a fire erupts in a nearby mineshaft, Billy -- as Captain Marvel -- uses an underground spring to put out the conflagration.

At the end of this harrowing adventure, Don decides not to drop out from school…and to continue his education instead.  The episode ends with Mentor, Don, Cathy and Billy still lost in the desert, at least until they notice that Captain Marvel has written an arrow in the sky, next to the word “Exit.”

Speaking of exits, this week’s Shazam entry represents my last blog post on this particular Saturday morning series.  I’ve watched and reviewed ten episodes of Shazam so far... and I’ll be honest about it: Outside of the nostalgia value, the series just isn’t particularly interesting.  The stories are repetitive, preachy, and distinctly lacking in much by way of super-heroics.  I’m finding it hard to write 300 words about each episode, and that’s a sure sign that it’s time to move on.  I don't want to keep writing about the series, and start resorting to snark about it.

Or perhaps I should write, more charitably, that Shazam just isn’t as interesting as Ark II, Land of the Lost, or even Jason of Star Command. If you’ve seen one or two Shazam episodes, you’ve essentially seen them all.

So next Saturday, I start blogging Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 – 1974), also from Filmation.  I suspect there’s a lot more to write about there…


  1. Anonymous5:52 PM

    Even as a boy in the '70s, I only watched Shazam! on Saturday mornings if and only if there was nothing else opposite it to watch. '70s Saturday morning's Isis was more interesting to me as a boy as was Wonder Woman[Lynda Carter] or The Bionic Woman[Lindsey Wagner] in prime-time. I agree both then and now Shazam! was not as interesting a series as the many other series that were airing in the '70s Saturday mornings. The Ark II was much more attention grabbing than Mentor's RV.


    1. Hi SGB,

      I always found Isis more interesting than Shazam as well. I also preferred Ark II. The stories were repetitive, but had some variety, and made some attempt to explore science fiction concepts of interest and intelligence.

  2. You are so good at pulling out little details and perspectives from shows that I didn't notice before, I was hoping you might be able to do the same in the case of Shazam!. I guess I was right all along, though. Shazam! was just as boring as I remembered it. Filmation did an animated version of Captain Marvel years later that was more loyal to the original comics, but I was too old for Saturday morning cartoons by then and never watched it. I look forward to reading your thoughts about Star Trek: The Animated Series.

    1. Neal,

      I was hoping there was more "there" there...but there just wasn't, as I believe you warned me before I started. You were right. The show is just mind-deadening after awhile. No interesting villains. No stories of genuine interest. Nothing beyond moralizing aimed at kids. I appreciate your compliment, and wish I could have done more here to make Shazam seem memorable.

      It is pretty clearly one of those shows where "nostalgia" is the only thing that makes it interesting.