Friday, December 14, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: The Green Hornet (1966)

I previously reviewed this entry on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, nearly 2 years ago, right around the time of the feature film with Seth Rogen & Jay Chou. Now, The Green Hornet has found a new cable home-----Me-TV!

Don't ask me how it happened, though I'm sure Me-TV's #1 fan, Ivan Shreve, probably has all the details. Anyway, Me-TV decided to break up its pre-dawn cartoon block on Saturdays, cancelling The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo & Gumby, and moving He-Man & The Masters of the Universe and its spin-off, She-Ra, Princess of Power, to the unholy hour of 5 am (ET). As we noted last week, this was to make room for Green Hornet and the British-produced Invisible Man, the latter of which we reviewed previously.

You all know the story with the Hornet. Producer William Dozier (Batman) decided to do a 180 degree turn and produce a serious crime drama, adapting the Hornet for television, and having him cross over onto Batman for a 2-part adventure that became the stuff of legend all by itself. Van Williams (ex-Surfside Six), who'd earn his Saturday cred nearly a decade later starring in Westwind, played media mogul Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet, with martial arts icon Bruce Lee as Kato. I actually had a VHS tape compilation that put more emphasis on Lee (for obvious reasons) a number of years back, but it didn't do the show justice.

Dozier is only heard in the open and only narrated when there was a two part story, which was rare in itself. Unfortunately, because it was played straight, and airing on a different night (Fridays), the series lasted just one season. KillBillReference uploaded the open:

How could you go wrong with a killer theme performed by Al Hirt? Apparently, the Hornet's fans from his radio days didn't trust Dozier and voted with their remotes.

Rating: A.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

"voted with their remotes."
But they didn't have remotes back then. You could say they "voted with their knobs" but nobody under 35 or so would know what you were talking about, and they'd probably assume it was some kind of off-color reference.

magicdog said...

Actually the TV remote DID exist back then but it was a pricey extra feature and it wasn't always reliable.

It had been available at least since 1955.

As for The Green Hornet, I'd caught a marathon on SciFi of all places a few months back - I think the show had potential but I can identify the problems it had:

1) The show should have been a 1 hour adventure/crimefighting series, rather than a half hour.

2) The show was partially shot during the day but the picture was darkened to make it seem like night to emphasize the green headlamps of Black Beauty. This makes the shots look weird since there is obvious sun shade in many scenes and it also makes the image of the show harder to see.

3) The show needed a bit more action. It probably would have been nice to have seen more of Lenore in action too, since like the DA, she was aware of Britt's activities.

4) It might have helped if we got to see how "The Green Hornet" dealt with the empires he has accumulated. For example, does he dismantle the operation? If so, wouldn't that destroy what the character was trying to build to be a threat in the first place?

5) Maybe as a nod to GH's heritage, they should have brought Clayton Moore on as a guest star as a relative (a cousin or uncle) of Britt's.

I think it's great that ME-TV picked up the show! Maybe it will help people to forget that travesty foisted upon us by Seth Rogan!

Personally, I'd love to see a new Green Hornet adventure series, although with newspapers not nearly as relevant as they were back in the day, Britt Reid would probably have to have a 24 hour news network and a blog!

hobbyfan said...

Magicdog: Agreed on virtually all points. If they do remake the Hornet in the here and now, it'll either be another lame comedy-adventure like Seth Rogen's version, or a procedural crime drama. Since it was William Dozier producing this show, and he didn't have the vision to do hour-long shows, there's the flaw in the formula.

Me-TV should be airing Hornet at a later time on Saturdays. 6 AM is too early for me on the weekends!