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The Six Million Dollar Man 4.14 – Death Probe (part two)

I sincerely didn’t think that we’d ever watch anything stupider than the Medusa episode of Land of the Lost, but friends, this was it.

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The Six Million Dollar Man 4.13 – Death Probe (part one)

There’s a lovely bit toward the beginning of this adventure where a farmer in a lonely corner of northern Wyoming, his horse and dog freaking out over some strange noise or other, is suddenly confronted with a Russian-made space probe that thinks it has landed on the planet Venus. The silent machine, looking like the bastard offspring of a Dalek and the tank-thing from Damnation Alley, sends the farmer scurrying to his pickup truck to get away, and the old codger takes a moment to roll up his truck’s window before starting the engine.

So the Death Probe is the last great recurring nemesis for the bionic heroes. The big machine kind of takes a back seat to the story of all the Soviet sleeper agents that are trying to track it down. The group is led by Major Popov, played by Nehemiah Persoff, and it was designed by a scientist named Irina, played by Jane Merrow. Irina had actually been introduced in a season one episode that we skipped, “Doomsday and Counting.” Merrow did quite a lot of American television in the seventies. Earlier in her career, she had been frequently cast as a guest star in many of the ITC adventure shows, and had been considered for the role of Tara King in The Avengers. And there in a single scene and not credited, you can’t miss John de Lancie as an army medic.

This two-parter was written by Steven E. de Souza. It was one of his earliest credits; he’d later find fame and fortune writing hugely successful films like 48 Hours, Die Hard, and, err… that crappy Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider. Honestly, I was pretty underwhelmed by this one. There isn’t nearly enough mayhem with the Death Probe smashing its way through farms and cars and houses, and far too much of Soviet sleeper agents running rings around hick sheriffs. On the other hand, our son was positively freaked out by the machine and was so excited – slash – worried by Steve looking like he wouldn’t be able to stop it that he missed the cliffhanger entirely from behind the sofa!

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The Twilight Zone 1.10 – Judgment Night

I’d like to claim that we made peace with the reality that our son has absolutely no memory for faces whatsoever, but for pity’s sake, he just saw Patrick Macnee last night, and he still had no idea who that guy playing number one on the doomed SS Queen of Glasgow was. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s me, spending half my life wondering what episode of what ITC action show that one guy playing the henchman in this other ITC action show was in. Maybe ignorance is bliss.

Macnee spent the late 1950s doing lots of work for American and Canadian television. He was seen frequently in the sort of sponsor-driven drama anthologies common to the era, with titles like Alcoa Theater and General Motors Presents. He was in a couple of Playhouse 90 features, and had a small role in Disney’s mini-series The Swamp Fox. He had to go back to the UK for fame and fortune, though. The first episode of The Avengers aired thirteen months after this episode.

For what it’s worth, this story is about a man played by Nehemiah Persoff who’s suffering from amnesia and deja vu in 1942, convinced that a U-boat is due to sink the ship where he’s awakened without memory at 1:15 in the morning. It’s a grim twist this week, and, unlike what we saw in the much better known “Time Enough at Last,” this fellow has his cruel fate coming.

We’re going to take a short break from The Twilight Zone, but stay tuned! We’ll return with more episodes from season one in October!

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Wonder Woman 1.11 – Formula 407

Several months ago, I read a detailed episode guide to Wonder Woman and was surprised that this episode, in which Steve and Diana fly to Argentina – and boy, does California do a laughable job pretending to be Argentina this week – to obtain a secret formula that will make rubber as strong as steel, didn’t sound at all familiar. Watching it tonight, it kind of rings a bell, but nothing in it stands out at all. It’s a “heroes tied up in the basement while the Nazis threaten to kill the professor’s daughter” story, and it is the most ponderous hour of this series, by leagues.

It is talky and long and basically a half-hour of plot padded out to an hour. I’d say it’s a tedious bore, but with the exception of a long scene at a formal party at the professor’s house, our son really enjoyed this one, somehow. Good, I’m glad that he enjoyed this more than us.

Of note on the production front: the story is by Elroy Schwartz, brother of sixties sitcom superstar Sherwood. Guest stars include John Devlin as the Nazi-of-the-week and Maria Grimm as the professor’s daughter.

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