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In “The Delinquent,” Billy Batson (Michael Gray) volunteers to be a new junior counselor at a summer camp because one boy, Norm (Jackie Earle Haley) is a loner and not well-liked by the other campers.
For instance, he steals a canoe and flees the camp, until found and brought back.
The Elders tell Billy that “in order to like others, we must first like ourselves,” and so Billy begins a regime of esteem-building with Norm. Unfortunately, Norm finds out what Billy is doing, and this knowledge just makes him more of a loner.
Billy proposes a wilderness survival walk, but on the hike, Billy falls and is injured. Now Norm must save Billy, and rescue him from a bear, too!
Being a hero makes Norm feel better about himself and all’s well that ends well.
Filmation’s Shazam presents another morality lesson this week, and the half-hour belongs to young Jackie Earle Haley, who has a long and distinguished career in genre films, from Damnation Alley (1977) to A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). He plays Norm, the episode's bad kid.
It's odd that the episode is called "The Delinquent," actually, because Norm is a loner, and a little bit recalcitrant, but not a bad kid.
A delinquent is, after all, defined as a criminal. Norm doesn't get along with other kids, and feels bad about himself. I guess stealing a canoe is, technically, a criminal act...but when considering something like that, there's always context, right? He takes a canoe to go out at a lake during a summer camp.
That's not a big thing, given where he was, and what he took.
And I also don't blame Norm a bit for feeling resentful when he learns that Billy has made him his "project." That's patronizing, and a little insulting.
Again, I'll just point out how weird it is to have a superhero show in which the hero spends all of his time counseling and lecturing kids, aged 6-16 about tolerance, acceptance, self-esteem and so forth.
Aren't there some natural disasters that people need to be rescued from? Or an occasional real crime, like bank robbery, to stop? Or even a super criminal now and then?
Next week: "The Braggart."