Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Shazam: "Ripcord" (September 25, 1976)

In “Ripcord,” Billy Batson (Michael Gray) is contacted by the Elders and told that he will encounter a person who has not learned the lesson that one must know how to crawl before he can walk.  

Specifically, Billy will meet someone who is contending with “the impatience of youth.”

This person is Bill (James Daughton), younger sibling to a skydiver, Bill (Patrick Laborteaux).  Both Bill and his girlfriend, Dorothy (Susan Pratt) know how to dive and pack their own chutes.  Larry decides that he can do the same thing, and -- without telling anybody --- packs Bill’s chute for his next jump.  Unfortunately, he has packed a malfunctioning suit.

Bill jumps from the plan with the faulty suit, but Captain Marvel is there to catch him, and help Larry learn his lesson.

For the second (or perhaps third time…) on Shazam (1974-1976), Vasquez Rocks makes a guest appearance as a setting. Here, at the start of the episode, Bill, Larry, Dorothy and the dog Geronimo, climb to the summit of the rocks.  

Of course, Vasquez Rocks is the sight of the famous Gorn fight on Star Trek’s (1966-1969) “Arena” and a location well-used -- or over-used? -- by many productions from the sixties to the present.  It appeared, earlier on Shazam, in "The Treasure."

In terms of later-era Shazam episodes, “Ripcord” is the first segent of the third season not to feature both a criminal enterprise plot and the didactic teenager learns a lesson story.  As a result, it seems a bit more coherent and focused than the previous episodes.

Next week: "Finders Keepers."

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