Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "The Gang's All Here" (December 14, 1974)

In “The Gang’s All Here,” Billy (Michael Gray) and Mentor (Les Tremayne) have decided to stay in a small town, to deal with the dangerous gang member, Vinnie (Jack McCulloch), who has been released from jail.

Vinnie continues to attempt to frame his sister’s boyfriend, Jackie (Greg Mabrey), a one-time convict who has gone straight and now works at a local gas station.

Billy attempts to reason with Vinnie, but there is no reasoning with the thug, and he takes Billy hostage.

Billy must escape restraint in the gang’s HQ, and call upon Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick) before his secret identity is revealed.

This follow-up to “The Past is not Forever” is another unusually hard-edged episode of Filmation’s Shazam (1974-1977).

Here, Billy is held against his will by gang members, and for a while it seems that the leader of the gang, Vinnie, may actually do him harm.

Furthermore, there is actual tension/suspense in the episode, arising from Billy’s predicament while he is captured and locked up in the gang’s headquarters.

All is made right by the end of the half-hour, of course, and yet this two-parter is quite memorable (in terms of the series catalog), in part because matters are actually taken seriously, and something bad could happen.

Now, that’s not to say that bad things don’t happen in other Shazam episodes.  But those “things” are usually not the result of people acting in an anti-social way.  We get mine cave-ins, avalanches, a runaway truck, snake-bites and so forth. 

But here, all the drama arises from Vinnie’s behavior, not the threat of some natural or accidental disaster. Almost automatically, that makes “The Gang’s All Here” more compelling than the average show.

Next week, it’s back to placid, un-threatening business as usual: “On Winning.”

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