Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "The Boy Who Said 'No.'" (October 24, 1974)

“The Boy Who Said No” might be the weirdest and wildest episode yet of Filmation’s live-action 1970s series, Shazam (1974 – 1977).  It begins as another “moral of the week” story about a kid making good choices, but ends with a crazy double chase sequence.

In “The Boy Who Said No,” Mentor (Les Tremayne) and Billy Batson (Michael Gray) stop for groceries and park their RV.  While Billy is at the store, Mentor gets robbed, however, by a juvenile delinquent named Ron Craig.  A young boy, Larry Burn, sees Ron at the scene of the crime, but refuses to i.d. the crook because Ron has threatened and bullied him into silence.

The Elders inform Billy that he should “translate” his concern “into fitting action,” but Billy can’t get Larry to budge.  When Ron shows up at Larry’s ranch, however and abducts his father, it’s time to call in Captain Marvel.  The jittery Ron attempts to evade capture first by stealing a helicopter and taking off, and then by car-jacking Mentor’s RV…with Mentor and Larry inside!

The moral of the week comes from Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick), who tells young Larry that all the violence and pursuit could have been avoided if only he’d reported Ron in the first place.  The boy admits he was “afraid to get involved.” 

The kooky aspect of “The Boy Who Said No” arises in the depiction of Ron, the juvenile delinquent.  

After robbing an old man in an RV, he commits crimes much worse to evade capture.  He kidnaps three different individuals, and steals two vehicles.  That seems like a lot of work -- and a lot of extra time in jail --- over a wallet that couldn’t have had much money in it.  

In other words, in order to evade the authorities for one crime, Ron commits much, much worse crimes.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  At the end of the episode, Ron says he just “needed money,” but if that were the case, why wouldn’t he have surrendered earlier, instead of gravely compounding his guilt?

Mentor is also downright weird in this episode.  He keeps making jokes about eating lunch.  After he is attacked by Ron, for instance, Mentor doesn’t appear overly concerned, and says “Yeah…but what about lunch?”  

And at the end of the episode, Mentor says he learned the lesson of the week too: “Don’t skip lunch.”   

This is just…strange.  

Maybe that knock on the head by Ron really did poor Mentor some damage…

In terms of action, “The Boy Who Said No’ featured twice as much action as most episodes of Shazam, with Captain Marvel pursuing a criminal by air and by land.  The effects involving Captain Marvel grappling with a helicopter in flight actually hold up pretty well, thanks to some better-than-average stunt work.  There’s also a good shot of Marvel grabbing on to a passing tunnel and braking the stolen RV.

Next Week: “The Doom Buggy.”

1 comment:

  1. I think this episode is strange simply because the writer did not write Mentor intelligent dialogue among others things too.