Isis 2.7 – …and Now You Don’t!

As the show wrapped up with its big climactic action scene (chuckle), our son shouted “Hey! That’s the first time they’ve ever shown Isis and Captain Marvel flying together!” And it would be the last. That’s probably a good thing; I swear all of Filmation’s special effects budget and know-how must have gone to Ark II in ’76, because I had just about enough of the crummy processing effects this season.

As I said last time, Filmation deserves a thumbs-up for being ahead of their time with the idea of a big season finale against a larger-than-usual threat. But of course, it’s 1976 and children’s TV advocates won’t let anybody do anything violent, so you’ve got the Supersleuths yelling and jumping at the bad guys but not actually threatening anybody. Rick Mason jumps in the villain’s getaway helicopter, and they… go up, and Captain Marvel pulls the copter back down. Excitement abounds!

Also, I missed it in part one of this story, but one of the baddies is played by Michael Blodgett, who had previously appeared on TV that season as King Alex in two episodes of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl a couple of weeks earlier.

But that’s that for Captain Marvel and Isis. If you’ve got a five year-old in your house, then you might enjoy watching these programs with your kid. Ours was so endlessly fascinated by Isis’s ever-changing powers – “I never saw her make twelve versions of herself before!” – that it often out-charmed the tame production. But next on the block, in a couple of days, we’ll look at a very, very different type of superhero.

Isis 2.6 – Now You See It…

It’s a million miles from a contemporary superhero show, but give the people at Filmation credit for a little ahead-of-their-day thinking. They wrapped up Isis‘s second season with a two-part team-up with Captain Marvel that not only featured actual villains with a sci-fi threat, but also with three new characters who were hoping to be spun off into their own show in the next season. The baddies have stolen a device that controls the weather. The only other time we’ve seen technology anything like this was in a season one story with a force field.

This was Daniel’s first experience with a backdoor pilot. Filmation was hoping to sell a network on The Supersleuths, three good-looking young people who travel around in a van and solve mysteries. Not at all like the Scooby Gang or the Clue Club or Josie and the Pussycats, honest. He enjoyed the episode and is looking forward to part two. As with the pair of two-parters in the first season of Shazam!, this doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending; it just stops at an appropriate part in the narrative.

The Supersleuths were played by Ranji, Craig Wasson, and Evan C. Kim. That’s how he’s listed, Ranji. IMDB doesn’t have another credit for the actor. The character sings, plays guitar, and does magic. Wasson played Feather, who’s streetwise and does impressions, and Kim played CJ, who provides the muscle. If their show had gone to series, then of course we’d watch it for the blog, just like I’m sure we’d consider watching Gary Seven, Mr. Bevis, and The Coltons in some parallel universe.

Isis 2.5 – Year of the Dragon

I’m not calling this episode predictable, but if you watch an episode of anything made in the 1970s that introduces a character who owns a restaurant, you can be reasonably assured that the cast will be eating there in the final scene. This restaurant is owned by a character played by the veteran Chinese-American actor Victor Sen Yung in one of his final roles toward the end of a very long career. He was best known for playing Hop Sing in Bonanza.

Something happened today that was far more interesting than anything in this half-hour. Daniel volunteered that Isis is his favorite superhero, “because she can tell the earth to do anything and she can tell the sky to do anything.”

Isis 2.3 – The Class Clown

Continuing the tedium, this time out we have a practical joker on campus. He nearly kills Rennie in a lab accident that spills chemicals all over the floor, and then he sabotages the school bus that takes everybody on a field trip. It’s called “The Class Clown,” but “The Sociopath” might have been a more honest title.

Isis 2.2 – The Hitchhikers

As inevitably as the rise of the sun, one of these shows did a “don’t hitchhike” episode. But I think they got this one backward, honestly. The first time the naughty hitchhiker, played by Jewel Blanch, gets into a stranger’s car, he drives it off a cliff. The second time, reasoning that he’s not a stranger any longer, the car’s electrical system shorts out, leaving them stranded on train tracks with the power locks down. So the lesson probably shouldn’t be “don’t get into strangers’ cars,” but “don’t let Jewel Blanch into your car; she’s bad luck.”

Striving for the moral high ground, we reminded Daniel not to get into a car with strangers. “I know that,” he said with a roll of his eyes.

Isis 2.1 – The Seeing Eye Horse

Isis began its second season with the most boring half hour of television ever produced. It’s notable only for introducing Ronalda Douglas, on the right above, as Rennie Carol. She took over from Joanna Pang, as we can assume that her character of Cindy Lee graduated between seasons. The episode also stars Gregory Elliot in his first credited Hollywood part, per IMDB. He’d later have a recurring role on Tales of the Gold Monkey.

Isis 1.15 – Dreams of Flight

Huh. You get so used to Isis using magic that it was actually a little surprise to have her stop a runaway truck by just climbing in the cab and hitting the brakes.

Anyway, this was the last episode of the show’s first season, and the last one for Joanna Pang, who didn’t return when the show went back into production for the 1976 season. The guest villain – another misguided kid – was played by Paul Hinckley. Two seasons later, he would star opposite Lennie Weinrib in 1977’s Magic Mongo for Sid and Marty Krofft. These are his only credits on IMDB.

Isis 1.14 – Scuba Duba

This episode of Isis guest stars Brian Byers, who was frequently seen in small roles in the 1970s as a hunky, good-looking young fellow. First he impulsively almost falls off a mountain because he didn’t check his rope, and a couple of days later he nearly drowns because he didn’t wait for a partner and didn’t check his scuba tank.

Daniel was really worried about the guy! He’s never liked innocents being put into serious danger in shows and tonight, he hid under his blanket for a couple of minutes. He has only just begun learning to swim and takes all our safety warnings very, very seriously. Seeing this clod ignore the rules might have hit home a little for him, which is good. So the moral-of-the-week does work, but I do wish we’d have a few more villains in this show.

Isis 1.13 – Girl Driver

The previous season, they did a Shazam! where Butch Patrick is all whiny because some icky girl is trying to play sports. This season on Isis, the prospective auto club president is equally whiny because another icky girl can drive real well and work on engines. She’s played by Susan Lawrence, who would play B.J. in Dr. Shrinker the following season. Lawrence had a very short career in Hollywood, lasting only about six years, but she had several high-profile TV appearances before she retired.

My son was pretty sure that the girl would win the rally to prove she can be auto club president because the boy cheats. He watches a Nick Jr. cartoon called Blaze and the Monster Machines and that’s the plot of pretty much every single episode: one of the whiny, naughty cars cheats and loses, as he explained to me at hilarious length after we finished. I appreciate these shows trying to have a moral or two, but my son’s breathless, amusing recaps of Blaze’s last few adventures were a lot more entertaining than the original cartoons!.

Isis 1.10 – The Show-Off

This episode is downright odd. It starts off being a story about a kid who won’t accept anybody’s help and keeps showing off. Andrea talks him out of being ridiculous and then the show realizes that there’s still a good six minutes of episode left. So Rick and Cindy get trapped in a cave with an escaped gorilla. Seriously. Neither the landslide nor the gorilla have anything to do with the show-off kid.

Why a gorilla? I guess because they did a bear in episode six.