Monday, June 29, 2015

Gemini Man Episode 1 - Smithereens

Aired on September 23, 1976
Written by Frank Telford
Directed by Alan J. Levi

Gemini Man, as a weekly one-hour series, begins with a strong episode involving trucking, Jim Stafford, evil scientists working inside Intersect itself and not much use of the invisibility concept. Which is odd but these things happen.

Sam & Dr. Jerk 

For the MST3K fans, Insert Joke Here

Dr. Hale works for Intersect. He's invented a fuel additive called Tripolodine that triples vehicular mileage. The folks at Intersect need to get the additive down to the patent office in Long Beach, from Los Angeles. They've got a military-laden convoy to take it there...  but that's a ruse. Sam Casey, super cool guy, will be carrying the additive in a moving van, with Dr. Hale and the Tripolodine in the back. Unfortunately, Dr. Hale is a jerk. He's bilked Intersect for 10 million and has planted a highly volatile chemical in the van. Dr. Hale gets himself out of the van and puts Dr. Abby in, after she discovers the plan. Will Sam blow up? Will Abby blow up? Will Jim Stafford as "Buffalo Bill" the trucker sing one too many trucker songs over the CB radio? Can welding be done invisibly?

Enjoy Invisible Sam: 

Holding a gun 

Stealing welding equipment 

Briefcase grabbing

This episode was re-edited into the first half of the strange TV movie Riding With Death, which featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. That's a funny episode and "Smithereens" is easy to pick on. But, it's really quite good. It has a nice steady pace. It reveals Dr. Hale's plan calmly as it inter-tangles Abby in the mischief. Sam drives on and on, making friends with Buffalo Bill, stopping some big rig hijackers...  then the breaks on the truck go out! One can watch this on MST3K and have a great time. But, it's great on its own. Sam is charming. At first, he's clearly relishing the trucking lifestyle and making friends with Buffalo. Then, as the intrigue builds, the hero side of him kicks in.

Sam makes a good trucker 

Trucking Action!

I think the episode works so well because, unlike a lot of 1970s shows of this variety, the danger is not from outside and brought to Intersect. The danger comes from Within. Dr. Hale is part of Intersect. He's using and abusing our main characters. That makes Sam, Abby and Leonard's involvement in the story much stronger than in a normal episode of something like, say, The Rockford Files. For the second Gemini Man adventure in a row, some bad guys involve Intersect in chicanery and plan on blowing Sam up. To be honest, having the leads participate in this way, rather than bringing in a whole world from outside, is much more involving. (Buffalo Bill is simply a nice addition.)


Awesome Action Abby!

The odd thing about the episode is how little the invisibility is involved. The 15 minute limit never becomes an issue. At one point, he turns invisible to borrow some welding equipment. I'm not sure he needed to do that. Yes, the invisibility works when he's beating up the hijackers or stopping Dr. Hale in the end...  but they kind of forgot to figure that element into the show. It reminds me of the first regular episode of The Magician with Bill Bixby. It's a great episode filled with at least three awesome stunt sequences. But, very little magic. Not sure what went on. Maybe an executive liked Sam but not the invisibility?

Can't Get Enough Abby!

Buffalo Bill! He sings some songs. He gets in a fistfight. He helps out in the big truck stunt scene at the end. He's charming. Is he a hick? Sure he is. But, he's fun. And he's a trucker. One might be able to tell that I'm a fan of trucking shows from this site. So, making this episode trucker-based and putting in a real trucker...  you got me. I'm hooked.

The guys!
Chemist In A Bag

I would like to enjoy the trucking lifestyle with Bill and Sam and Abby. Thank you. Dr. Hale can hit the road! Watch "Smithereens" today.

End with an explosion & a laugh

Saturday, June 27, 2015

WEEKLY CRACKED - Future Insect Monster Movies

From Issue #125
Dated July 1975
Might be a reprint as it mentions The Hellstrom Chronicle, which came out in the Summer of 1971

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Gemini Man - TV Movie

Written by Leslie Stevens
Directed by Alan J. Levi
Originally aired on May 10, 1976

(Note: The DVD Box set is Region 2. My laptop will not play Region 2 DVDs. So, the screenshots were done this way: A picture of the TV is taken from my phone. The picture is emailed to myself. Then, it is cleaned up a bit on Pixlr. It's not the best but it gets the point across. And, yes, there will be Pause icons in the top right hand corner of most shots.)

A Soviet weather satellite has crashed into the Pacific Ocean! The U.S. government sends a team out to reclaim it! But, the Commies don't want it recovered! And they've got some of their agents on the Royce Explorer, the ship sent to retrieve it. There are going to be problems but they haven't reckoned on the members of the Intersect security team! Headed by a guy named Leonard! With a physicist named Abby! And starring the strange hunkiness of Sam Casey!

 Sam Casey, Shark Fisherman!

Gemini Man is a Leslie Stevens creation, made a few years after his fantastic secret agent series Search. Gemini Man is the sort-of follow up to The Invisible Man with David McCallum. This show is the low budget, more hip version of that one. Gemini Man aired one TV movie and then (several months later) 5 hour-long episodes. There were 11 hour-long episodes total. Thank heavens for the French and their love for short-lived American TV! (I still need to get the Manimal set.) I will now immerse myself in the majesty of the invisible Sam Casey and his pals.


 Leonard, Pete Thornton & Royce

The Royce Explorer team brings Sam along to help retrieve the satellite. But, a bomb has been placed on its base and Sam gets caught in the explosion. Mr. Casey survives but it turns out that this is not a weather satellite but an atomic powered laser. And Sam doesn't just get caught in an explosion. His whole DNA matrix goes kablooey. The man is now invisible! Abby fits him with a very special watch that keeps his DNA in check. But, if he turns off the watch, he goes invisible. Sam can become invisible for 15 minutes every 24 hours. Any more than that...  he fades away forever. Luckily, the watch comes with a timer for heightened suspense.

Synchronize Super Watches!

As Sam is acclimating himself to this new state of being, the two jerks at Royce Industries who placed the bomb come after him. They try to blame Sam for the sabotage. Intersect's Leonard and Royce's Mr. Royce argue a bit. Eventually, the bad guys arrange for Mr. Royce, who has a bad heart, to take a plane to Washington D.C. to tell the government directly about the mishap. However, the jerks have another plan in mind: take the plane high up, turn off the oxygen and Mr. Royce will die. Sam Casey won't let that happen! He may end up becoming invisible forever but he'll save the day.

That's the kind of guy Sam is.

 No Air Holes?!
Yes. Because then the bad guys could see that he's invisible

 You know they're going to slam through that door

I'd known Gemini Man previously from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Riding With Death. That was a conglomeration of the first regular hour-long episode and a previously unaired one. (I'll talk more about this when we get to those episodes.) Due to the editing process (and possible MST3K editing for time), it's a rather incoherent adventure with some strange voice-overs and shots used to link things together. The episode of MST3K is funny. I also found the Adventures of Sam Casey to be entertaining in their own right. My surprise at seeing a French DVD company had the complete series available sent me immediately to Paris to pick it up. (That's a lie. Amazon France helped me out.) And I thought I'd share what I viewed with the world.

 Sam opens a door (Invisible)

Luckily, the Gemini Man TV movie is really quite good. It's got a fast pace. Sam and Pals are fun. There's enough action (invisible and otherwise) to keep the viewer watching. For those who like scientific bafflegab, there's a ton of it. And it's not done in a dry manner the way it was in, say, The Six Million Dollar Man's original TV movie. Abby and Sam have a flirty relationship that speaks volumes for the way they work together. There's also something else the film does that I really like.

 Some outfits look better invisible

This is an origin story. So many origin stories like this separate the actual origin from the story that occurs after it. For example, The Man From Atlantis TV movie introduces the character of Mark, the Atlantean, and spends half of the movie with him, learning who he is, bringing him into our world...  then Mr. Schubert shows up and the second half is a completely different animal. Gemini Man mixes Sam's conversion to Invisible Man with the plotline about spies blowing up satellites and causing trouble. In fact, at one point, the bad guys are searching the halls of Intersect for Sam while Abby is explaining the super watch to him. I thought structuring the movie this way was a clever idea. One can enjoy the steady set-up of Sam's invisibility while the plot intensifies around him.

Sam flies a plane (Invisible)

I think that element is what lifts this TV movie above others a bit. There's more suspense and forward movement when they inter-cut the bad guys planning with Sam's initial throes of invisibility. Mix in Ben Murphy at his Ben Murphy-est, some fun bits of invisible shenanigans and that undefinable 1970s TV charm...  Gemini Man is worth watching. Now, what about the series?

 Oddly enough, this is not a freeze frame.
It's a fade to black

 Thank you, France!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekly Cracked - Laverne & Shirley

From Issue #166
January 1980
This would have come out right around the time that ABC moved Laverne & Shirley from Tuesday night where it was #1...  and the ratings dropped.
This issue contains Nanny Dickering's Interview With The Roller Disco King. That will appear in a later installment.

Saturday, June 13, 2015