Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Secrets of Isis: "The Cheerleader" (October 2, 1976)

In “The Cheerleader,” Ann (Laurette Spang) is desperate to head the school’s cheering team, and plots to steal the answer key to a chemistry test to keep her academic scores high. She lures Tut out of Ms. Thomas’s (Joanna Cameron) room, and Rennie has to find the missing raven. When Rennie returns, Ann has copied all the answers.

Then, to exacerbate her sin, Ann frames the top cheerleader on the squad, Wynn (Colleen Camp) for cheating on the test.  While the academic board debates what should happen to Wynn, however, Ms. Thomas looks into the matter and determines the truth.

When Ann is nearly caught for cheating, she flees in her car.  But after a strange turn of events, the car nearly runs her down on a hillside, necessitating a visit from Mighty Isis.

Battlestar Galactica’s (1978-1979) Cassiopeia -- Laurette Spang -- makes quite a splash in The Secrets of Isis, playing a ruthless, manipulative and scheming cheerleader.  She’s a good actress, and Spang makes one both loathe and then feel sorry for Ann, a girl who “wants everything,” according to Wynn, but who is not “willing to work for anything.”  

The result?  “She could end up with nothing.”

Despite a good guest appearance by Spang, “The Cheerleader” certainly raises some issues of continuity in terms of the series. 

 For example, the first half of the episode involves the fact that Ann frees Tut, Isis’s bird, and that the bird becomes lost, and later endangered in the great outdoors.  In her first appearance in this segment, in fact, Isis must save Tut from a wild dog.

But we already know from other episodes that Tut flies out of the lab quite a bit, and can handle himself just fine.  

He flew into a junkyard in one episode from the first season (to rescue Cindy Lee), and had to go find and recruit Captain Marvel in another episode, late in that season.  

So why is he suddenly helpless and at risk in the great outdoors?

Secondly, this episode seems to point out just how little the faculty actually does at Ms. Thomas’s school.  While Rick and Andrea walk the grounds working and fretting, they leave a student --- Rennie -- to type up the chemistry test answer key.  Isn’t this something they should be doing, rather than requiring a student to do it? (And Rennie is in the class, isn’t she?  How does that work if she prepares the exam’s answer keys?)

Isis saves the day (and Ann…) in “The Cheerleader” when she levitates the cheerleader far from the ground, and lets the runaway car go by her.  The superhero also manages to make the offending wild dog disappear, so she can retrieve Tut, and keep him safe from harm.  These powers are ones we’ve seen, in one form or another, on the series before. She used levitation in "Dreams of Flight," for example.

Next week: "Year of the Dragon."

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