Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Wonder Wheels (1977)

In 1976, Sid & Marty Krofft created Wonderbug for the Krofft Supershow. The titular vehicle went from being dilapidated to super in a matter of seconds thanks to a magic horn. I ain't lyin'. Unfortunately, the cheaper-than-a-dollar-store production values resulted in Wonderbug getting permanently sent to the junkyard after 2 seasons (1 season's worth stretched over 2).

A year later, Hanna-Barbera decided they could do a little something better with the concept. Instead of a dune buggy, they took a beaten-up motorcycle and souped it up with the help of a hidden button, turning it into Wonder Wheels, a component of the Skatebirds anthology package.

Willie (ex-Monkee Micky Dolenz) is an assistant to investigative reporter Dooley Lawrence, and is about as reliable as an empty bag. However, when danger threatens, Willie hits the button and Wonder Wheels enters the picture, with Willie now garbed in a red & yellow jumpsuit. Dooley, amazingly, never made the connection.

Here's a sample intro:

Now, you all know the meek & mild bit started with Superman, who, along with the Super Friends, aired opposite studio stablemate Skatebirds during the latter series' 1 and only season. Willie & Wonder Wheels could've stood to have gotten better writing, for one, and for another thing, maybe a little extra time for each episode. 5-6 minutes just won't cut it today.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I'm certain the VA for Willie is not Micky Dolenz. It doesn't sound like him - this due to being both a Monkee fan and having recognized his voice work in other HB productions).

I think Micky had left for England at this point(or shortly after) to begin his successful career in TV production before returning to The States for the next wave of Monkeemania in '86.

hobbyfan said...

Nope. He is credited as being Willie according to research I did. Left for England soon after, and so, his run at H-B ended after Wonder Wheels & the rest of the Skatebirds show was cancelled.

This was the last gig he did for H-B, and he chose his jobs carefully. Funky Phantom in '71. Devlin in '74, and Wonder Wheels in '77. In this case, he does sound similarly to the way he does now in that Time Life infomercial.