Wednesday, April 24, 2019
The Spirit Of Television!
Sam Jones was quite something. He burst into my consciousness with his outlandish but irrepressible take on Alex Raymond's classic hero Flash Gordon in the early 80's movie which attempted to revive the franchise and earned many an admirer in doing so. It has a vintage charm nowadays for me, and I've always thought Max Von Sydow the ideal Ming, but Jones always looked a little bit in over his thespian head in that one. Well with The Spirit, a presumably failed ABC pilot he does a little better in my estimation. There are some pretty big problems with this one, but for the most part they ain't at the feet of Sam Jones.
Being a TV production it seems the problem might have been budget. The highlights of this show are the settings in Wildwood Cemetary and a few othe noirish settings which felt spot on for The Spirit as established by Eisner oily pen. But also on hand were many bright daylight scenes in the heart of suburbia which totally compromised the effect. And let's talk about the Spirit's suit, it's supposed to be black isn't it. I always assumed the blue was the classic blue-for-black conundrum which early comics faced. Having Sam Jones show up in the bright afternoon to Central City in a bright blue suit we know will become the Spirit's togs really created a breakdown in tone. On the plus side is Ellen Dolan who is lovely and sexy and P'Gell who is arguably even more so. I also liked the top thug in this one, a guy dubbed "Bruno". Ebony shows up as a frisky kid who helps the Spirit survive his origin and then mostly disappears.
I wanted to really like this one, didn't expect to do so, but ended more pleased than I expected -- if all that makes any sense.