Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: ElectraWoman and DynaGirl: "The Sorcerer's Golden Trick" (September 11, 1976)

In “The Sorcerer's Golden Trick” Lori (Deidre Hall) and Judy (Judy Srangis) are set to interview music sensation Colorado Johnson when they get news from a nearby maximum security prison that the evil villain called The Sorcerer (Michael Constantine) has escaped.

Now teamed with his assistant, Miss Dazzle (Susan Lanier), the Sorcerer breaks through Crime Scope’s frequency and informs the crime-fighting duo that he intends to steal all the gold from Fort Knox.  And he will tolerate no interference from the “voltage vixens.”

ElectraWoman and DynaGirl attempt to stop the Sorcerer, but he traps them in a cage, and forces them into a confrontation with a man-eating tiger.  The heroes survive both and use the Electroplane to stop the Sorcerer at Fort Knox…

The first episode of the 1976 Sid and Marty Krofft series ElectraWoman and DynaGirl reveals the superhero series’ huge creative debt to the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman, as well as, intriguingly, to James Bond, 007.

On the first front, we get cockeyed angles galore here, and a scenery-chewing “celebrity” villain in colorful costume…all mainstays of Batman (1966 – 1968).

On the second front, the Sorcerer in this episode decides to use the plot from Goldfinger (1964): a heist in Fort Knox.  The movie is a bit more in impressive in terms of production design than “The Sorcerer” is, for sure.  Here, a disco-ball is a major prop, for example. The Sorcerer uses it to hypnotize victims.  Also, we see a really bad miniature, at one point, of Fort Knox.

Another weak visualization in “The Sorcerer's Golden Trick” involves the tiger that poses a theat.  The Sorcerer calls it “ferocious,” but it mostly looks sleepy.

Still, there a few neat ideas here.  The Sorcerer never actually takes the gold in Fort Knox.  He just uses light and mirrors to make it appear as though the gold has disappeared.  We never learn how he plans to take it out of the Fort, but it’s a cool idea that his powers and plans are all based on utilizing illusion.

Secondly, there’s a cheap but effective visual here that is oft-repeated.  When heading down into the ElectroBase by elevator, the effects crew simply shines a light “box” at the top of the set, and follows it to ground level. When it reaches that level, the doors open, and our heroes arrive.  Yes, it’s cheap, but it visually conveys the sense that the elevator is carrying EW and DG to their base, traversing a long passageway.

Unfortunately, there’s very little logic to “The Sorcerer's Golden Trick”  The episode begins with The Sorcerer using only his powers (and no instrumentation) to break out of his maximum security prison cell. The episode ends with ElectraWoman and DynaGirl satisfied that he is back in that cell, where he belongs.

What prevents him from performing the same trick twice, and escaping another time?

The short answer: nothing. 

In a few weeks, The Sorcerer returns in an episode titled “Return of the Sorcerer.”

Next up in the canon (in two weeks): "Glitter Rock."

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