Saturday, May 24, 2014

Geek TV: Shazam! (Live Action)

Concept: Billy Batson, a young man, drives around the country in a Winnebago with Mentor, an older gentleman. When trouble strikes, Billy says the magic word “Shazam!” and is transformed by the Elders into Captain Marvel! Based on the classic Fawcett comic book.

Total Episodes: 28

Original Air Dates: September 7, 1974 – October 16, 1976

Original Network: CBS


Billy Batson (Michael Gray): Young man who travels with Mentor. When he says the magic word Shazam! He transforms into Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick/John Davey): Billy's alter ego, with the powers of flight and super strength. Gains his abilities from the Elders Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.

Mentor (Les Tremayne): Billy's advisor on Earth, Mentor often is the one to suggest that Billy contact the Elders for advice.

Geek Pedigree:

Of course, being a Filmation production, the usual Filmation guys were involved with Shazam!, among them Arthur H. Nadel, Jack Mendelsohn, and so on. Michael Gray had previously guested on an episode of The Flying Nun and The Brady Bunch. He quit acting after Shazam!, and is currently running a florist business in Los Angeles.

Les Tremayne has an impressive list of geek creds, starting from playing Col. Daniels in Francis Goes to West Point, being the opening narrator for Tarzan and the She-Devil, playing Maj. Gen. Mann in The War of the Worlds, being the narrator for Forbidden Planet, playing Martin Cochrayne in The Monolith Monsters, Dr. Sam Jorgenson in The Monster of Piedras Blancas, Prof. Theodore Gettel in The Angry Red Planet, the narrator for King Kong Vs. Godzilla, Normal Tilliver in The Slime People, and many other roles, including voicing some animation parts. Since Shazam!, he continued to do other voice parts for animation, including episodes of Challenge of the GoBots, Jonny Quest, and The Pirates of Dark Water. He passed away in 2003.

John Davey had previously appeared in a 1971 episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, and also guested on three episodes of Isis as Captain Marvel.

Geek Guests:

JoAnna Cameron guested in three episodes as Isis. Ty Henderson guested in two episodes of Shazam!, and went on to play Paul in Space Academy. Kerry MacLane guested on two episodes, he was the boy who gave the horse to Davey Jones in the “Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” episode of The Monkees! Jimmy Hayes guested in two as well, you might recognize him as Joe in Blood of Dracula. Carl Anne Seflinger guested in two as well, you might remember her better for playing Susan Talbot in Wonderbug. James Daughton guested in one episode, he'd previously appeared as Mikal in an episode of Planet of the Apes. Adam West, TV's Batman, provided the voice of Hercules in one episode. Frank Coghlan Jr. played a guard in one episode, he was Billy Batson in The Adventures of Captain Marvel!

Perennial guest-star Pamelyn Ferdin guested in one episode, of course you'll recall her guest-appearance on Star Trek in “And the Children Shall Lead,” and also for playing Laura on Space Academy. Butch Patrick, TV's Eddie Munster, guested in an episode as well, and also played Mark in Lidsville, among other geek credits. The Partridge Family's Danny Bonaduce guested in an episode as well. William Campbell played a police officer in one episode, I'm sure you'll recall him as playing Koloth and Trelayne in Star Trek.

DVD Release: Available through Warner's online ordering system.

Website: None that I was able to find.

Notes: One of my favorite shows when I was a kid, although I recognized even then that it wasn't the same Cap and Billy I had been reading in the comics. Still, it was “must-see TV” for my siblings and I!

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