Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "The Road Back" (October 5, 1974)

The sub-plot in ‘The Lure of the Lost” about the evil drug dealer Brok (Ron Soble) is concluded in this episode of the live-action Filmation Saturday morning series, Shazam (1974 – 1977).  

In “The Road Back,” Billy and Mentor go back to help Gary (Christopher Nelson Guy) set-up Brok, but Gary’s friend, Mark (Derrel Maurry) is really working for the criminal.

In his initial contact with the Elders this week, Billy (Michael Gray) learns that the greatest gift is not trusting another person, but finding a person who trusts you.  Mark fails that test, both with Billy and with Gary.  

Finally, it’s up to Captain Marvel to make sure Brok -- the first adult villain and law-breaker we’ve seen on Shazam -- gets put behind bars.

Ron Soble’s performance is the undeniable highlight of this Shazam episode.  

In big sun-glasses and a slick suit jacket, he presents perfectly as the stereotypical 1970s TV drug dealer.  But aside from the costume, Soble infuses the role of Brok with a sense of menace and the sinister.  And again -- for Shazam -- that’s tradition-breaking. Brok is a much badder guy than teenage car thieves or a rancher who dislikes a horse, for sure, and he knows it

The moral of the week is that “finking” on friends who break the law actually does them a service in the long run.  By telling on him, Gary prevents Mark from going down a road of crime that could have consumed his whole life.

It’s all so very After School Special in nature, and yet I can’t deny Shazam’s heart is in the right place.  Today the whole series feels incredibly anachronistic in its small-potatoes storylines, heavy-handed didacticism and general lack of super-heroics.

Next Week: “The Athlete.” I smell a lecture about sportsmanship and cheating coming on…

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