They used Anne Lockhart in the two-part season premiere, and Anne’s mother June Lockhart guest stars in this episode, along with Robert Loggia, who was appearing as a tough guy in everything in the late seventies. This one’s a pirate treasure story in Martinique, but it starts as a missing persons story. Our son really enjoyed a rescue from an old fort, and the unearthing of the old treasure chest. The pirates buried that one awfully close to the shore. One good storm and it’d be lost for good.
There’s a surprisingly grim moment when we learn the pirates intend to sell their captive to an auction in China. It immediately seemed out of place on a family hour children’s show like this. Our kid held onto that line and asked us what it meant. The quickest and most satisfying explanation I felt like digging into was that in the same way these bad guys were selling their stolen yachts to other bad guys in South America, they were selling people to other bad guys in China. To be honest, I’m still amazed the show went there.
Our son hasn’t bolted behind the sofa quite the way he did tonight in some time. When Wonder Woman first meets the programmed-by-Nazis gorilla, she has to jump back as he lunges at her from his cage. He was over the top of the sofa and down on the ground with a whack, and then he gingerly made his way over to my side of the couch for some next-to-dad reassurance.
This episode’s heart is in the right place, but it sure is dopey. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you can’t train gorillas anywhere nearly as quickly as it’s depicted here, and I’m also pretty sure that, even in 1942, military policemen knew better than to try to tackle a seven foot tall gorilla in hand-to-hand combat.
But never mind, because the guest cast is amazing. Robert Loggia and John Hillerman play Nazis, and Gretchen Corbett (Beth from The Rockford Files) is Gargantua’s trainer, and the gorilla himself is none other than our old pal Mickey Morton. About one month before this was originally broadcast (on Dec. 18 1976), Morton had worn a different furry costume as a seven foot monster in a Land of the Lost episode.
This suit, incidentally, has a terrific mask. I wonder whether it was reused from the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series? The rest of the suit is pretty woeful, but the mask is of very high quality and gives Morton a lot of room for expression.