Monday, February 16, 2009

Nice and Terrific: the Justice League of Also-Rans

In my (so far fruitless) quest to identify a handsome supporting cast member in this 1967 Dick Van Dyke/Barbara Feldon vehicle that happened to be on tonight, I turned up one Stephen Strimpell, star of the superhero sitcom Mr. Terrific, from the same year.

The name kinda sorta rang a bell, as did Captain Nice, the other major-network Bat-ripoff from the same tv season, but I'm pretty sure I never watched either one during their brief runs (which, as TV fate would have it, started and ended on the same day). Enter our modern day Library of Babel, YouTube ...

First, an excerpt from a Mr. T episode that actually aired:

Note the set that looks almost exactly like Commissioner Gordon's office, and the cast consisting entirely of sitcom staples from the era. Now, a glimpse at the unaired pilot, with Alan "WILLLburrrrr" Young replacing Strimpell in the title role:


(Want to see the other 2 parts? You can find them by clicking on the clip itself.) Meanwhile, here's a learned-looking comparison of the Terrific Two.

Speaking of comparisons, behold this representative episode of competitor Capt. Nice, from the pen of Buck Henry:

In both cases, we've got laugh tracks, unpleasant costumes, and pained humor. On top of that, they're both struggling to spoof something that was already a spoof, which never works too well. Small wonder both have been consigned to the dustbin of history--which is still fun to revisit from time to time.

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