Monday, August 31, 2009

If Sergio Leone Met Stan Lee

Well, maybe the blog heading is a bit hyperbolic, but this 1966 Italian western does play very much like a Marvel comic of the period. In fact, STARBLACK is quite similar to The Ghost Rider, a hooded western hero introduced by Vincent Sullivan and Dick Ayers in Magazine Enterprises comics of the late 1940s and ‘50s and reintroduced to comics by Ayers at Marvel in the 1960s (and no relation to the flame-faced motorcycle-riding antihero who followed in the 1970s).

Or if you're not familiar with the Ghost Rider, you can look at this fun western as Django meets Zorro, though I'm sure director Giovanni Grimaldi was influenced as much by Republic serials as he was comic books.

Johnny Blyth (Robert Woods) returns to his hometown, along with his deafmute sidekick Job (Howard Ross), to find venal banker Curry (Franco Lantieri) running roughshod over the townsfolk. In typical masked hero fashion, Johnny pretends to be a wimp. But when trouble is afoot, he dresses entirely in black, including a mask that covers his entire face, and goes into action as Starblack with guns, lassos, and throwing knives. The Starblack costume is very cool, and he leaves a black badge as a calling card.

Like Batman, Starblack’s mere appearance strikes fear into those who oppose him, but not the coldhearted Curry, who had Johnny’s father murdered so he could take over his mine. Starblack is ruthless in his crimefighting; in one scene, he silently hands his pistol to a rape victim, so she can empty it into her unarmed attacker. American actor Woods does a good job in the lead, assuming he’s playing both parts. The story’s resemblance to HAMLET is unmistakable, but done more faithfully and more stylishly a year or so later by director Enzo Castellari in JOHNNY HAMLET.

Yeah, I mean, who would have expected to see a Shakespeare classic reinterpreted as a spaghetti western? All the staples of the Bard’s play are here in 1968's JOHNNY HAMLET—mystery, betrayal, a mother’s intense love for her son—bolstered by plenty of flashy western action and dripping with Gothic style, courtesy of genre great Enzo G. Castellari, directing the third film of his long and distinguished career.

Johnny Hamilton (Andrea Giordana) returns home after the war to visit his father’s grave in a visually stunning cemetery within a cave, where he encounters bandits Ross and Guild. At the family ranch (named Elsinore, of course), he discovers his mother Gertie (Francoise Prevost) has married his father’s brother Claude (Horst Frank), who claims to have avenged Johnny’s father by gunning down his killer, a man named Santana. Johnny doesn’t believe Claude’s story and sets out with his old friend Horaz (Gilbert Roland) to investigate.

The first twenty minutes or so are outstanding, opening with Johnny dreaming of his father in a sequence right out of a Mario Bava film like HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD. He awakens on a beach surrounded by a theatrical troupe and rides into town—accompanied by fantastic Francesco de Masi music—and to the afore-mentioned cave, which is let entirely by candles. One amazing shot has Castellari’s camera swirling slowly around a kneeling Johnny in a way that will have you wondering how it was accomplished.

The rest of the film is nifty too, if not quite up to the zing of its opening. The deaths of two young females are skillfully portrayed offscreen, and German actor Frank (THE GRAND DUEL) is properly sinister. Giordana, whose career petered out after a handful of ‘60s westerns, lacks the presence of a Franco Nero or Richard Harrison, but he plays impetuous youth well enough. Ennio Girolami, something of a regular in Castellari films (he somewhat resembles Lee Van Cleef), and Pedro Sanchez are hateable as the film’s wormy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern stand-ins.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Random Comic Book Splash Page: Creepy #14

"Curse of the Vampire" was the first story the legendary Neal Adams ever drew for Warren Publishing, as well as one of the first comic book stories he ever drew. Up to this point, if Adams was known at all, it was for his work in advertising and on the BEN CASEY newspaper strip.

The equally great Archie Goodwin wrote "Curse of the Vampire" (Warren really landed top talent in its early days) about a doctor who falls in love with a beautiful young woman who falls into a coma. The family butler wants to drive a stake through her comatose heart, so she won't fall prey to the family curse, which transforms all members into vampires after their deaths. Being a Warren story, there's a twist or two in the tail, but as good as Goodwin's writing is, it's Adams' art that really draws your attention. Remember, in 1967, when CREEPY #14 hit newsstands, no one was drawing such photorealistic figures and dramatic angles.

"Curse of the Vampire" had to have been a real eye-opener for comics readers.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mr. Turnkey

Now here's one of the sickest singles you're ever apt to hear.

If you're aware of the folk duo Zager and Evans at all, it's for their post-apocalyptic smash hit "In the Year 2525," which inexplicably spent six weeks at #1 during 1969.

Denny Zager and Rick Evans (both from Nebraska) never again had a Top 40 or even a Hot 100 single, but a year after "2525" they released the astonishingly perverse "Mr. Turnkey," which has to be heard to be believed.

It's about a guy in Wichita Falls who rapes a girl in a bar, is sent to jail, and commits suicide in his cell by pounding a spike through his wrist into the brick wall. The miscreant sings while crying, hanging from the wall, and begging his victim for forgiveness.

Although the Billboard charts are filled with hits about dead teenagers, audiences had little interest in a song about a dying sex offender, and Zager and Evans soon went their merry ways. If you're into bizarre pop music, however, you should probably give "Mr. Turnkey" at least a one-time listen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Random TV Title: B.A.D. Cats

Holy crap, when is this amazing series coming to DVD?

Kickass car stunts, the monosyllabic gang leader from SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, Michelle Pfeiffer in a bikini, the awesome Vic Morrow in a perm, a post-GOOD TIMES J.J. Walker being all wacky, and a sassy barkeep played by SANFORD AND SON's LaWanda Page!

This 1979 ABC crime drama starred Asher Brauner, Steve Hanks, and the curvy Pfeiffer in an obvious ripoff of THE MOD SQUAD, right down to Morrow as the gruff but understanding boss. B.A.D. CATS only lasted a handful of episodes, but you're telling me some DVD producer can't sell a complete series set with this cast, these stunts, and Michelle in a two-piece?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Amazing Look at Television History

If you have any interest at all in television, particularly its history, you owe it to yourself to spend some time exploring the Archive of American Television.

Part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, the Archive's goal is to "capture television history one voice at a time" by sitting down with actors, writers, directors, producers, executives, and crew members from your favorite shows and capturing their memories and thoughts in a series of video interviews. Many of them are now available for viewing on YouTube, and the interviews I have watched are truly fascinating.

For instance, I've recently been listening to Robert Butler, who may be the most successful director of pilots in history, having helmed the opening episodes of classic shows like BATMAN, MOONLIGHTING, HOGAN'S HEROES, and HILL STREET BLUES. Butler isn't a household name, but he's one of the fascinating figures of TV history who's rarely (if ever) interviewed, and he has a lot to say, having started in live television in the 1950s.

Although Butler has a habit of calling almost everyone he ever worked with "savvy," he's sometimes candid about his actors. The BONANZA crew was overly rambunctious, and Adam West liked to play Batman overly arch, so his Malibu buddies would know that he was in on the joke. Not exactly HOLLYWOOD BABYLON territory, I know, but Butler seems to have gotten along with just about everybody. He does have an interesting story about a friendly argument he had with HOGAN'S HEROES co-star Ivan Dixon about whether or not the black Dixon should join the other POWs in leering at a white woman in an episode.

I really enjoyed the seven-part chat with the late actor Richard Crenna, who was reared in Los Angeles, where he became a child star in radio before entering television stardom on the '50s sitcom OUR MISS BROOKS. Crenna, of course, enjoyed a long, varied, prosperous career in film and television, and reliving his memories with him over nearly four hours was a rewarding experience for someone like me who's fascinated by the medium.

While you may be fine with watching the talking heads on your computer, I advise that you use software to transform the YouTube videos into mp3s, so you can listen to them while driving or exercising.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fangs Of Terror

I don't know anything about author Joseph L. Gilmore, but his 1978 novel RATTLERS reads as though he was auditioning to pen the latest Irwin Allen TV-movie. Although Harry Novak produced a 1976 film of the same title, this Signet paperback has nothing to do with it, but it offers a plot, story structure, and characters that would have fit expertly into the era's many "animals on the loose" films, such as TARANTULAS: THE DEADLY CARGO and ANTS, which shares a very similar plot.

Millionaire Norris Bradley and his war-vet construction guy Sam DeBlase are working hard to build a luxury hotel on a Southern California hillside that will cater to the creme de la creme of society. Trouble is, not long after the bulldozers start digging, a massive den of hissing rattlesnakes--literally hundreds of them--is uncovered beneath the site.

Although the no-nonsense DeBlase puts up an argument (though not much of one, considering his financial stake in the project), the decision is made by the money men to keep working, while DeBlase hires a young snake expert from the local university and a handful of trained dogs to track and kill the serpents.

Yeah, it sounds crazy, but it just might work. And by the time of the hotel's lavish grand opening, when not a single snake had been seen for weeks, it looks as though the plan did work. But, no. Oh, no, no, no.

About halfway through Gilmore's story, he begins introducing a disparate group of supporting characters, which we identify immediately (from Irwin Allen movies like THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) as cannon fodder. We have to learn a little about them, so, theoretically, we give a damn whether they live or die.

It takes Gilmore most of the book to get to the good stuff (only one dead body in the first 170 pages), but the climax is a good one, featuring hundreds of hungry rattlesnakes invading the posh hotel and chomping on the screaming aristocrats.

RATTLERS is a very entertaining potboiler. Predictable and over-the-top, yes, but if you remember having a good time watching stuff like DAY OF THE ANIMALS and THE SAVAGE BEES on television back in the day, you'll get a kick of this fast-mover too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

BJ And The Witch

BJ and the Witch
February 9, 1980
Music: William Broughton
Writer: Sidney Ellis
Director: Charles Rondeau

Anne-Marie Martin, years before marrying author Michael Crichton and writing the TWISTER screenplay with him, is very charming as the Girl of the Week in this BJ AND THE BEAR episode. The busy Canadian actress was still using her birth name of Eddie Benton at this point in her career, which had included a regular role on the CBS series RAFFERTY and a part in the sci-fi clunker THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME.

Benton/Martin plays Deidre, a witch, who befriends BJ (Greg Evigan) after his truck breaks down on a back road surrounded by woods (director Rondeau filmed on location at Los Angeles’ Franklin Canyon reservoir). BJ finds her charming at first, then a little creepy when she starts talking about love potions and implies she can affect the climate. He isn’t, however, creeped out enough to ignore his hormones and split when he has the chance to spend the night with her.

Good thing BJ’s able to stick around to help out, because Deidre is the target of religious zealot Denby’s (Peter Mark Richman) literal witch hunt to drive her out of town. Denby accuses her of selling angel dust to his daughter Teri (Linda Grovenor), which leads BJ to find the real drug dealer before a bloodthirsty mob tears Deidre apart. Arlen Dean Snyder plays one of BJ AND THE BEAR’s rare sympathetic lawmen as the local sheriff with no bone to pick with the unorthodox young woman.

Ellis crafts an unusually mysterious and downbeat ending for the episode, which leaves the viewer wondering whether Deidre is alive or dead. Since she never returned to the series (though actress Martin went on to guest on LOBO), I guess we’ll never know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sheba, Baby

“She’s a dangerous lady, and she’s well put together,” sings Barbara Mason at the top of SHEBA, BABY—a lyric that describes actress Pam Grier as much as the ass-kicking ex-cop she plays in this American International action picture. As Chicago private eye Sheba Shayne, Pam returns to her Louisville, Kentucky hometown (also that of writer/director William Girdler) to protect her father’s loan company from being taken over by black mobster Pilot (that baaaad D’Urville Martin). A chase through a carnival, a nighttime invasion of the villain’s yacht (a great excuse to put Pam in a wetsuit), and a nasty catfight are among the action highlights.

Pam looks beautiful, of course, with a costume budget that probably could have funded earlier AIP features. This and FRIDAY FOSTER, another 1975 release, appear designed to glam up Grier, in contrast to her gritty Jack Hill pictures like COFFY and THE BIG DOLL HOUSE, and prep her for a career with the major studios. After her AIP contract expired in 1975, Grier appeared in more prestigious Hollywood productions (she’s quite good as a murderous junkie hooker in FORT APACHE, THE BRONX), but was never a star again except in JACKIE BROWN in 1997.

Girdler never made a very good movie, though he may have eventually, had he not been killed in a helicopter accident at age 31. Louisville is an unusual setting for an action movie, though Girdler could have done more with it. Outside of an action sequence filmed at the Kentucky State Fair, not much about SHEBA, BABY screams “Louisville,” except the star-struck extras staring at either the actors or the camera. The stock characters and plotting in the screenplay credited to Girdler and producer David Sheldon (GRIZZLY) are a disappointment, and Girdler didn’t have the filmmaking skills, as Jack Hill did, to add original touches to his B-movies that would make them stand out in the crowd.

Monday, August 17, 2009

So Long, Sammy

I haven't seen an obit yet, but it's going around the Internet that Sammy Petrillo has died of cancer at age 75.

Sammy's main--and only, as far as I know--claim to fame is that he was a spot-on Jerry Lewis impersonator who teamed up with a Dean Martin imitator in the mid-1950s to do nightclub performances, TV gigs, and even one film, the stunning BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA.

Duke Mitchell didn’t really look a lot like Dino, but he was a good-looking Italian guy who could sing a bit. On the other hand, Petrillo’s resemblance to Jerry was uncanny. He wasn’t very funny, but he looked and sounded almost exactly like Lewis, and, even though he was still just a teenager, he was able to present a reasonable facsimile of Jerry’s spastic screen persona. So Duke and Sammy didn’t exactly come out and say, “We’re ripping off Martin and Lewis,” but anyone who caught their nightclub act would realize that’s exactly what they were doing.

Realart Pictures, run by a Detroit theater owner named Jack Broder, made its name re-releasing classic Universal horror films, like DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN. In 1952, Broder and Mitchell & Petrillo’s manager, Maurice Duke, got the idea to put the team in a movie that would be produced in nine days on a budget no higher than $50,000. The result is one of cinema’s strangest comedies, one goofy enough to actually earn its ridiculous title: BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA.

Lugosi had once been a great stage and screen star, most famous for portraying Count Dracula in Universal’s 1931 classic, but by 1952, he had already become the broken-down heroin addict played by Martin Landau in 1994’s ED WOOD. It’s unlikely Lugosi’s name in the title had much cachet then, but perhaps Broder was remembering the grosses from Realart’s DRACULA re-release when it came time to release his new picture. At least it plays fair, since Lugosi does indeed “meet” a Brooklyn gorilla. Sort of.

Don’t expect Tim Ryan’s screenplay to make much sense, but here we go. Duke and Sammy play Duke and Sammy, a pair of nightclub entertainers who accidentally fall out of an airplane (while luckily wearing parachutes) and happen to drop onto a South Seas island populated by a native chief with a Brooklyn accent (Al Kikume) and his daughter Nona (played by a Mexican actress billed as Charlita). Also on the island is Dr. Zabor (Lugosi), a mad scientist who is in love with Nona, who works as his assistant in his laboratory. Ryan and director William Beaudine--notoriously nicknamed One-Shot because of his reputation for filming only one take of each scene, even if an actor blew a line or the set fell down--establish Nona as having an American college education, yet she fails to recognize simple English idioms and has no idea what a clothing label is.

Duke and Nona fall for each other, while Nona’s fat “baby sister” Saloma (Muriel Landers) chases Sammy all over the island. Zabor decides the best way to get Duke out from between him and Nona is to turn the crooner into a gorilla. The good doc is working on experiments in evolution, y’see, although there doesn’t appear to be much of a market for a man-into-monkey potion. And if you’re an animal lover, there’s no need to fret. No simians were harmed during the production; stuntman Steve Calvert, who specialized in this type of part, donned his own gorilla suit to play the transformed Duke.

Sure, the story is as asinine as its setup, but who cares? Mitchell gets to perform his signature tune, Fred Rose and Walter Hirsch’s “’Deed I Do”, several times, Sammy screams and runs around a lot, and Bela gets to be Bela. It even appears that Lugosi is having a good time, not that he would have any reason not to enjoy spending four days mugging for a movie with his name in the title.

While I doubt either ever saw BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA, Dean Martin reportedly got a kick out of Mitchell & Petrillo’s act, but Jerry Lewis didn’t. The two imitators broke up after Lewis threatened to sue them. Both more or less fell out of show business after that, although Mitchell later resurrected himself to write, produce, compose, direct and star in a violent mobster movie called THE EXECUTIONER in 1974.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Orleans On The Assassin's List

Whomever Peter McCurtin was, he surely was a crafty devil, churning out Assassin novels for Dell and Marksman books for Belmont/Tower, even though obviously both characters are exactly the same. Both antiheroes even have the same origin: New Orleans-based gun dealers who seek revenge against the Mafia after their families are murdered. I have no idea who McCurtin pulled it off, but my hat is off.

The second Assassin novel, NEW ORLEANS HOLOCAUST (Dell, 1973), sends Robert Briganti back to his hometown to find the brother of one of the hoods that killed his family prior to the first book. There isn't really any more to the plot than that. In fact, that story's payoff pales a bit next to some of the side jobs Briganti takes on before and after he arrives in New Orleans.

A nasty setpiece finds the Assassin on the prowl for two gay Mafia hitmen who tortured and killed a young stripper with whom he knew as a kid growing up in the carnival business. McCurtin briefly introduces a temporary new partner for Briganti: a retired corrupt police detective who helps the Assassin prowl the underworld for one of the fiends and dies heroically in an absurdly public shootout.

Little in the way of characterization or anything exuding realism, but blunt and entertaining. Briganti's gimmick of recording his exploits on cassette tape and sending them to the FBI is an interesting one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Mile Of Cars

It's hard to believe Robert Zemeckis, who later directed the crowd-pleasing yet airheaded FORREST GUMP and CONTACT, had this dark, subversive, and truly hilarious comedy inside of him. Co-written and produced by Bob Gale, USED CARS (the Bobs' follow-up to 1941) was not a hit back in the summer of 1980. The fact that it was released by Columbia one week after AIRPLANE! was no help, nor was the marketing, as is obvious from the dismal one-sheet you see posted here. However, today USED CARS stands up as a solid smash and one of the funniest comedies ever made, as well as one of the most quotable.

The wonderful Kurt Russell, known only at the time for his Disney features and playing Elvis Presley in John Carpenter’s highly rated TV-movie, raises a few eyebrows as Rudy Russo, a shady Arizona used-car dealer with dreams of becoming a corrupt politician. He needs $60,000 to buy his way onto the ballot, so every penny he makes lying, cheating, and screwing his customers goes right into his safe, which is hidden behind the celery in the refrigerator of his trailer home.

Rudy's boss is Luke Fuchs (Jack Warden), a kindly gent who would disapprove of Rudy's sales technique, if he were alert enough to notice them. The lot isn't doing well, but Luke refuses to sell it to his venal twin brother Roy (also Warden), who owns the much more successful dealership across the street.

When Luke dies of a heart attack (intentionally induced by one of Roy's employees), Rudy and his co-workers, salesman Jeff (Gerrit Graham) and mechanic Jim (Frank McRae), hide the body and cover up the death, so Roy won't gain control of the lot. Another monkey wrench in Rudy's senatorial plans is Luke's estranged daughter Barbara (Deborah Harmon), who arrives to patch things up with Dear Ol' Dad.

While Zemeckis and Gale's script does a nice job imbuing its plot with enough interesting touches to keep it believable from beginning to end, USED CARS is mainly remembered for its choice dialogue and outrageous setpieces. A pair of illegal television commercials; a knockdown, dragout fight between Roy and Jeff; Jeff's using his pet dog Toby's skill in "playing dead" to win another sale; and the climactic race across the desert involving hundreds of junkers driven by teenagers are just a few of the memorable scenes that have made USED CARS the unsung classic it is. It's also one of the period's most quote-worthy comedies: "You think we like being associated with the President of the United States? We run an honest lot here." "Fifty bucks never killed anybody." "It's runnin' real hot, old man!" "Come on over, let's do a little disco!" "Hey, Rudy Washington, what's happenin', brother?" “What’re you, a fuckin’ parrot?” “That’s the most blatant case of false advertising I’ve ever seen.”

The razor-sharp screenplay suffers a little bit from dated references to the Iran hostage scandal, Jimmy Carter, etc., but the joy of watching it work is realizing that, with the exception of Barbara, all the characters are lying, scheming crooks. However, we're easily manipulated into rooting for the "good guys," even though their methods are just as extreme, if not more so, than those of Roy, the “bad guy.”

Much of the goodwill is due to the actors. Russell, who had never made a R-rated film before this, is outstanding in a role that may have been a warmup for the antisocial Snake Plissken character in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, which he made next. Graham and McRae deliver rollicking support, and you'll have fun spotting other familiar faces in the cast, including TV's Lenny & Squiggy, Michael McKean and David L. Lander, as electronics experts, Joe Flaherty of SCTV, Al Lewis of THE MUNSTERS, Michael Talbott of MIAMI VICE, Woodrow Parfrey, Wendie Jo Sperber, Marc McClure, Dub Taylor, PENTHOUSE Pet of the Year Cheryl Rixon, Dick Miller, Betty Thomas as a stripper, Claude Earl Jones, Terence Knox, and Alfonso Arau.

Patrick Williams' rousing score was put together in just three weeks after the original composer, Ernest Gold, was fired. Williams and Norman Gimbel also composed a nice country & western tune for the end credits (sung by Bobby Bare). Steven Spielberg and John Milius were executive producers.

Considering USED CARS was not a hit in theaters, Columbia TriStar released it in a very nice DVD several years ago, presented in its 1.85:1 anamorphic ratio for the first time on home video. Considering the film's age and budget, it looks good visually, especially the desert scenes, which were meant by Zemeckis and Gale as an homage of sorts to John Ford. The stereo soundtrack is fine and doesn't distract with unnecessary surround sound effects.

The extras include a series of funny radio commercials for USED CARS, as well as a radio interview done by Russell at the time of its release. There are trailers for three other Columbia comedies, but not one for USED CARS, oddly and disappointingly enough. A short outtake reel is interesting, mostly because it contains some scenes cut and reshot in which Graham, Russell, and Rixon interrupt a televised football game wearing phallic-shaped glasses (Columbia was appalled by the “dicknose” specs and made Zemeckis reshoot the scene using different gag glasses). The strangest extra is probably an actual local TV commercial Russell made for the Mesa, Arizona car dealership where USED CARS was shot.

The best extra, though, is a feature-length commentary track containing Zemeckis, Gale, and Russell. You know it's going to be fun when Russell laughing hysterically is the first thing you hear. You'll have a good time watching USED CARS with these three, who are justly proud of the film they made and enjoy seeing it again. They're also surprisingly candid about its mistakes (the film's very first shot reveals a reflection of the boom mike), the rampant drug use on the set, and the foolish risks they took with people’s lives.

For instance, I had always wondered how in the world Zemeckis got the shot of Gerrit Graham stumbling backwards into traffic and narrowly avoiding being splattered by a car roaring at him at high speed. Well, now I know it was no trick--Graham actually walked backwards into the path of a speeding car!

It’s a brilliant film.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Random Comic Book Splash Page: Skyman

Columbia Comics, definitely one of the more obscure comic-book companies of the 1940s, was the home of Skyman. I kinda like his costume, though I'm curious to know what he shoots out of that water pistol he's holding in his hand.

Skyman first appeared in 1940's BIG SHOT COMICS, but apparently didn't get an origin story until he debuted in his own title. From SKYMAN #1, this splash is (I believe) by writer Gardner Fox and artist Ogden Whitney. Both men went on to long careers in the comics business; Fox as the longtime scripter of DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (among a myriad of titles) and Whitney at Richard E. Hughes' American Comics Group, where he created the cult classic Herbie the Fat Fury.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Random TV Title: Riptide

More cool private eyes, rousing action, character-based humor, and awesome music, as Stephen J. Cannell Week continues. RIPTIDE was a bundle of high-concept ideas. Three Vietnam vets--hunky Cody (film star Perry King) and Nick (Joe Penny, later on JAKE AND THE FATMAN) and nerd Boz (Thom Bray)--open a private investigation agency. Among the tools of their trade are their pink military helicopter, a badass classic convertible, and a robot (!) invented by Boz. Throw in screeching tires, macho chemistry among the leads, the typically light Cannell touch, and you've got a show.

Mike Post and Pete Carpenter composed the theme, which is reminiscent of the music they wrote for Cannell's shortlived RICHIE BROCKELMAN, PRIVATE EYE. What's interesting about this clip is that it also features the teaser to one of RIPTIDE's more memorable episodes. By its third season, RIPTIDE was being regularly trounced in the ratings by the new smash MOONLIGHTING, so they decided to do a parody of the competition.