Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "The Braggart" (November 30, 1974)

In “The Braggart, a boy named Alan (Steve Gustafson) tells one lie after the other and gets away with it.  In fact, he not only lies, he brags too.

After damaging a friend’s bike, for example Alan tells his friends that the boy is a bully, and that he beat him up using his karate skills.

Mentor (Les Tremayne) and Billy (Michael Gray) are contacted by the Elders, and they say to Batson: “There are those who avoid the truth to gain attention and hide their mistakes.”  They also tell him that covering up a mistake, or a lie, is a second mistake.

Billy realizes, when he encounters Alan, how this lesson applies to the teenager. He learns from Tim (Sean Kelly), the boy with the bike that Alan never fought him, and doesn’t even know karate.

Alan, however, doesn’t get the message.  Instead, he brags to his friends about the time he strolled through the rhino habitat at the local zoo. 

When his friends don’t believe his story, he offers to do it again, believing they won’t take him up on the offer.

But they do.

Because there are too many visitors at the rhino habitat, however, Alan decides to enter the vulture habitat. The large animal escapes, and Alan chases it into the lion paddock.

Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick) must now save both the boy and the bird from a lion.  He ends up wrestling the lion into submission, and saving the day.

Alan, meanwhile, learns a very important lesson…

“The Braggart” is pretty much the same as every other story we see on Shazam! (1974-1976) with only a few twists in the tale. 

The high-point of this story is likely Captain Marvel’s wrestling match with a lion.  The good captain is obviously a stunt double, and yet the fight still looks pretty good. We saw an earlier episode involving a bear, so there is clearly a fascination with having a superhero fight wild animals here. This episode offers two for the price of one, once you factor in the large and very excitable vulture.

Also, Alan is a little more comical than the usual guest character, racing his bike all over the place, splattering dirt on his t-shirt (so it looks like he’s been in a fight), and practicing ridiculous karate moves.  He’s clearly a compulsive liar, and yet he’s entertaining to watch, especially as he gets in deeper trouble.

Again, however, it’s just nuts to think how much the culture (and the culture’s perception of superheroes) has changed since the mid-1970s.  Today, we have mythology-heavy, big-budget extravaganzas with appearances by the most obscure comic-book characters and villains. Back in the 1970s, the superhero program on TV, at least as produced by Filmation, was simply an excuse to offer a moral lesson or too.

Next week: “The Past is Not Forever”

1 comment:

  1. The zookeeper/guard in this episode was played by Frank Coghlan Jr., who had portrayed Billy Batson in the 1941 Republic serial, THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL.


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