Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reinventing Devlin: Possible or Impossible?

Looking back at Hanna-Barbera's freshman class of 1974, part of the reason some of these shows failed was that the studio wasn't aiming for the funny bone, but rather, the brain. Drama was the order of the day.

Devlin was one of those shows. You had a stunt cyclist, presumed to be in his early or mid 20's, working for a carnival, with his brother & sister as a support team. Not much mention of parents, so assume the trio were orphaned. The carnival boss is like a father figure.

Where did it go wrong? Not enough promotion. Granted, drama was big in 1974. So was live-action, as all 3 networks were experimenting, and H-B supplied ABC with one---Korg: 70,000 B. C., which had the misfortune of airing directly opposite NBC's Land of the Lost & CBS' Shazam!.

Back to Devlin. Along with These Are The Days, H-B was aiming to bring families together in front of the tube. While Days was inspired by CBS' The Waltons, Devlin drew inspiration from the real-life exploits of Evel Knievel, who'd made a few appearances on ABC's long-running Wide World of Sports. However, ABC blew it, big time. When it came to programming Saturday mornings back then, program directors weren't exactly brain surgeons, and never have been.

So could Devlin be redone today? I wouldn't even try pitching it to Cartoon Network at all. It wouldn't even be a cartoon this time.

Given the popularity of "action sports" (formerly known as extreme sports), Devlin could be rebooted so that he's not a stunt cyclist, but rather on a pro "action sports" tour, and, yes, this would dove-tail with the similarly rebooted Wheelie & The Chopper Bunch that we talked about before. See how easy that is?

To refresh your memories, here's the open to Devlin:

What do you think?


magicdog said...

I liked Devlin, but I think you're right in that an animated drama wouldn't get a look from CN at the moment.

It was mentioned very early on that the Devlin kids were orphans, their father was a motorcycle cop who died in the line of duty, their mother died when Sandy was little. They traveled with Hank Summers' carnival during the summer, and the money they made would be what they lived on the rest of the year.

I should be embarrassed to know this ;o)

If he were rebooted in a series of his own, the action sports thing could work. I also thought he'd be a NASCAR type driver rather than a cyclist. Or maybe they'd be working a motorcycle stunt show in Vegas! We have those you know!

I think Ernie Devlin might work better as a side character in a different show. In my Impossibles reboot, I had him in an episode in which he was suspected of a series of robberies committed by a person on a stunt bike. Of course, he didn't do it!!

It's true Devlin was inspired by Evel Kneival, but the deeper truth is, they originally wanted this to be Knieval's show. In fact in the opening credits, the outline fo the motorcycle and rider is in fact, Evel Kneival! For some reason, Knieval backed out of the project, and HB created Devlin from the scraps.

hobbyfan said...

Oh, ho! I did not know that!

I may be able to use Devlin with someone else in a story I'm gestating in the old cranium for future use at ToonZone. Coming soon.