One of the horror genre's "most widely read critics" (Rue Morgue # 68), "an accomplished film journalist" (Comic Buyer's Guide #1535), and the award-winning author of Horror Films of the 1980s (2007), The Rock and Roll Film Encyclopedia (2007) and Horror Films of the 1970s (2002), John Kenneth Muir, presents his blog on film, television and nostalgia, named one of the Top 100 Film Studies Blog on the Net.
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Monster Squad: "Lawrence of Moravia" (1976)
“Lawrence of Moravia,” an Arab super-criminal -- the aforementioned Lawrence
(Joseph Masoli) --plans to steal a famous pearl the size of a basket-ball from
the Belgravian Embassy.
Monster Squad attempts to stop the villain, but Frankenstein and the Wolf Man
are captured and locked inside a vat of boiling oil…
not always so great to go back and revisit a TV series that you enjoyed as a kid.
one thing, as a kid (with relatively little viewing experience…) you don’t
notice bad performances or lousy production design, or a campy tone so much.
for another thing, as a kid, you aren’t necessarily aware of social
stereotyping or other bothersome factors.
Squad (1976) today, in 2014, is a weird and uncomfortable reminder of
how bad kid’s TV could be in the 1970s.
that awareness is balanced by knowledge that other Saturday morning series were
far superior to this one.
general lousiness of Monster Squad thus serves to remind
us that Sid and Marty Krofft (Land of the Lost) and Filmation (Ark
II, Jason of Star Command, Space Academy) deserve some credits for not
actively attempting to insult our intelligence.
Their programs are filled with great concepts, and don’t talk down to
in terms of social stereotypes, a Monster Squad episode like “Lawrence
of Moravia” just doesn’t hold up by today’s standards. Lawrence -- an Arab super-villain – is
accompanied by two henchman who are clearly Caucasians painted in swarthy
make-up. Yikes. I hate political correctness as much as the next guy, but there's a difference between being politically incorrect and being offensive.
at the end of the episode, Walt has occasion to speak with Officer McMacMac,
the Irish night-watchman at the Wax Museum.
McMacMac speaks in a thick Irish brogue, and in his own way is as bigoted a
portrayal of the Irish as Lawrence is of Arabs. We all know that cops are always Irish, right?
also looks and sounds like a direct knock-off of Batman’s Chief O’Hara.
course, the seventies were a different time, with different standards and
different mores. It’s important to
remember that. Accordingly, I don’t believe anybody was setting out to depict
Arabs or Irishmen in stereotypical terms.
But it still happened.
characters prove my point, simply, that you can’t go home again. You can’t re-visit Monster Squad now without
seeing and register some overt flaws, or without acknowledging that time has
passed it by.
wit, the series’ approach to superheroes -- high camp -- is insulting. And the sense of humor is pretty antique. In
episodes like “Lawrence of Moravia” and “No Face” (with Chief Runny Nose…) the
humor is borderline insulting.
Next week: the last
episode of Monster Squad: “Albert/Alberta.”