Shazam! 3.3 – Ripcord

Interesting casting in this episode: the little kid was played by Patrick Labyorteaux, in one of his first credited roles. He’s been very, very busy in Hollywood ever since, even playing for a decade as a regular in CBS’s JAG. Susan O’Hanlon, credited in this episode as Pratt, hasn’t been quite as busy, but she’d be at work for CBS and Filmation again two seasons later as a regular in Jason of Star Command. William Bryant played Lt. Shilton on Switch – a series my parents never, ever missed but which has been completely lost to time – the following year.

Anyway, it’s a basic rule of thumb for entertainment: if you’re enjoying something, you don’t question its premise. Look, nobody’s claiming the Shazam! and Isis episodes from 1974 and 1975 were any kind of brilliance, but they are enjoyable enough for what they are. The five we’ve seen from the 1976 batch, though, are just painfully, agonizingly dull. Even the special effects are worse. The only thing of note this time: our son has decided he wants to skydive when he grows up, like the people in this episode. His mother glumly conceded that it’s safer than playing football.

So, lost in the tedium, it suddenly struck me how incredibly strange it is that Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury are just hanging out in some cave somewhere. See, in the original comics, it’s a wizard called Shazam who gives Captain Marvel the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, and so on. That old guy just hanging out in a cave somewhere is also really silly, but it makes more sense than this. Who’s holding up the earth, for starters? Wouldn’t Atlas be furious with Hercules for screwing him over on that deal back in his laboring days? Don’t Zeus and Hercules have some girls to chase? Why do all the Greek gods and demigods and titans defer to the human king? Since when does Zeus say “You take the throne, Solomon, I’ll stand?”

Yes, these are stupid, silly questions, but they’re more fun than what’s happening onscreen. Only eight more half-hours to go this season and we’re done.