Monster Squad 1.3 – The Tickler

Ivor Francis is the villain in the third episode of this series. A clown called the Tickler, he’s incapable of laughing and, surprisingly (for all ten of this show’s hundred and two viewers who might care about continuity), he’s depicted as an old criminal the Monster Squad put away some years previously. I guess Walt is taking quite a while to finish that degree in criminology. Francis was a recurring face in guest star parts in the 1970s, but it looks like his only regular role was Carson Brookhaven, the “Thurston Howell III” analogue in Dusty’s Trail. Since Francis’s character is unable to laugh, smirk, nya-ha-ha, or sneer an evil grin, it actually looks like he was having a miserable time in his day or two on the set. I hope that’s not really the case.

The show gets around the anti-violence problems of Saturday morning TV in the seventies by having toothless fight scenes with mostly harmless objects. Last time, the squad battled Mr. Mephisto and his girls with pillows. This time out, the Tickler and his henchmen grab some inflatable baseball bats and Bruce incapacitates two of them with pinches to their noses. Surprisingly, I can’t swear that children can actually tell a difference between these silly fight scenes and what they might have seen later in the afternoon on a repeat of Batman, they’re both just exciting mayhem with lots of bodies crashing around the screen, and our son absolutely loved watching this. I suppose just as long as the fuddy-duddies at Action for Children’s Television were not able to count any clenched fists, that’s all that matters.

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