Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam!: "The Delinquent" (November 23, 1974)

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."

1 comment:

  1. John nice review of this episode with Jackie Earle Haley. He did an episode of the Planet Of The Apes 1974-75 series too. Interesting career after a long hiatus he is back as an adult actor. Shazam only dealt with age 6-16 "Brady Bunch" problems because that was their viewing audience. More importantly, they did not have the budget to save the world :) .