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.

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8 comments:

  1. I was hoping you'd post about this. I remember watching it and thinking how much fun it was. Sounds like it's best left as a pleasant memory!

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    1. I'm glad I got to see it. It's half good and that's better than a lot of stuff I stumble across.

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  2. No way! The Spirit's suit was always blue and the tie was always red.

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    1. I bow before your wisdom friend. The first time I ever saw the Spirit (in The Great Comic Book Heroes) the suit was a shade of white, so the blue came to me later when Warren revived him.

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  3. There's a Q&A with Jones regarding this telefilm in the current issue (#4 Spring 2019) of RETRO FAN magazine.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up. I'll check it out.

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  4. It had a pretty good cast: Nana Visitor (Kira of Star Trek: DS9) as Ellen, Garry Walberg (Lt. Monahan on "Quincy") as Commissioner Dolan, and Bumper Robinson as Ebony (renamed "Eubie").

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    1. I pretty much agree. Something about Walberg didn't work for me, but it wasn't that he wasn't trying. I think he was almost never in a scene that felt like Dolan.

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