Monday, August 25, 2008

* Does ANYONE Remember->The Misfits of Science? *

There are a countless number of websites devoted to TV Shows. Most of these sites discuss HOW WONDERFUL the shows were and how they were cancelled before their time. Authors of these sites try to give explanations as to "How can network 'suits' be so dense?" (Boy, that would take time to write.) Mainstream shows like Firefly, China Beach, Boomtown, are examples of these shows; which will be discussed in due time. However, I thought it would be nostalgic to remember some of the shows, which really did not leave their mark in the television archives. These shows made it into television history as, let's call them, footnotes. And some of these shows have individuals who, you know today, but were unknown at the time.

So, where should I start? How about the fall of 1985! The network was NBC. The time slot was Friday nights at 8:00PM. (Opposite CBS' Top 10 Mega-Hit->Dallas).

Given the above, what brilliant show did NBC air (drum-roll please); Misfits of Science! Now before you gasp in horror in how Dallas continued to dominate Friday nights; continue reading.

The show was about a group of super-powered humans and their FANTASTIC adventures. Sound familiar? The pilot was a double-length episode. An additional 15 episodes were created; however, all but one aired during its initial run. Can you image what the pitch meeting was like? "Hey, I got this idea; let's have a show about a group of teenagers/young-adults who all have special powers which no one understands. They are outcasts. They are brought together to help people, solve crimes. Stan Lee I hope you are reading this...someone owes you BIG TIME! Okay, maybe not big. Ad rates back than were like a gallon of gas today!

So what famous 'Friend' got her proverbial acting feet wet on this show? I know you will not be able to sleep unless you know this:..Courteney Cox. We all have to start somewhere.

Now, let me review the pilot. Yes, as the TV Geek that I am, I do have the series. What would really be A LOT of fun would be to review the commercials from 1985...remember the MacTonight song!? Or how-about, anyone remember the name of the McDonald's sandwich that came in a large Styrofoam container (not Earth Friendly)? On one side of the container was the 'HOT' meat, and on the other side was the 'COLD' bun. Okay, I digress here...

The story opens with a crack of thunder and a bolt of lightning (It was a dark and stormy night...). Cut to an abounded storage facility where a frozen man has been since 1937! <Crack of Thunder>. Thus ends the prelude to the Pilot. Fade to black...cue the wonderful title sequence. Now, I could not resist providing you a link to the opening credits.

Now while on the topic of the opening credits, let's do a quick review of the 'stars' , their characters and where they are now:

Dean Paul Martin. He played Dr. Billy Hayes. Dr. Hayes is the so-called leader of these 'Misfits'. He has no powers. Dean Paul Martin passed away in 1987 due to a plane crash. His father, Dean Martin (one of the members of the Rat Pack) was never the same afterward.

  • Kevin Peter Hall. He played Dr. Elvin "El" Lincoln. Dr. Lincoln was a colleague of Billy. He was a VERY tall African American man who did not like being tall. So, he created a formula which gave him the ability to shrink down to doll size. The formula would only last for an hour. He kept doll clothes in his pocket; Ken's clothes. (Yes, Barbie's Ken. It was a designer label for dolls!) Kevin Peter Hall went on to star in movies such as: Harry and the Hendersons, Predator, Predator 2 and Big Top Pee-wee. Kevin contracted AIDS thru a blood transfusion and passed away in April 1991.

  • Courteney Cox. She played Gloria Dinallo. Gloria was a troubled teen telekinetic who had an extensive history of juvenile delinquency. Courteney went on to star in another famous 80's show; Family Ties. And in the 90's she stared in one of the most famous TV shows; Friends. She is currently getting ready to appear in the new season of Scrubs.

  • Mark Thomas Miller. He played Johnny Bukowski (Johnny B). Johnny was a rock & roll musician who was electrocuted on stage (Hopefully not while filming a Pepsi Commercial). This accident gave him fantastic electrical powers. These powers also gave him the ability to run at super speeds. However, these powers made him vulnerable to water. So, no walking on the beach or in the rain! That would be B-A-D! Mark currently works part time as a rescue diver in LA. In 2003 he started an engineering and development company.

  • Jennifer Holmes. She played Gloria's probation officer, Jane Miller. Jennifer's character only appeared in the early episodes. After the Misfits, Jennifer went on to appear on 80's shows like L.A. Law, Murder She Wrote and Baywatch. She disappeared from the entertainment industry after 1993. So, Jennifer if you are reading this, hope you are well.

  • Mickey Jones appeared in the pilot as the 'Iceman'. The team, in the pilot, would drive around in an ice cream truck because 'Iceman' would melt/die if the temperature got too high. However, after the pilot, he NEVER appeared again. But, the team still drove around in the ice cream truck. Wheels are wheels, right!? Things that make you go, "Hmmmm".

Act I

The act starts with an ambulance (like the one in Ghost Busters) rushing to get somewhere. At least you hope for the sake of the person in the vehicle they are rushing to get somewhere! The ambulance is going to "Humanidyne". Sounds like "Cyberdyne"? It turns out the "IceMan" from the Prelude is being rushed to "Humanidyne". Dean Paul Martin's character, Dr. Billy Hayes, has a team at "Humanidyne" who help/research individuals with S-T-R-A-N-G-E conditions. Besides being frozen, the "IceMan" starts to melt or go into cardiac arrest when his body temperature gets about thirty-two (32) degrees. Anyway, to make a long act, short, an evil military general (played by M*A*S*H's Larry Linville) sees military applications for this "IceMan". For example, freezing the enemy for questioning! After questioning, keep the enemy frozen instead of putting them in jail! (Sound familiar?) Dr. Billy Hayes disagrees with the general, stating these troubled individuals come to him and his team for help. Well, the general did not like that, so Dr. Hayes and his entire team are promptly fired.

Act II

Act II opens with Billy playing hoops with El. El, is 7"4' . El confides in Billy that he has research which could get them their jobs back at Humanidyne. El, it turns out, went into research due to his size. Growing up being the tallest, put pressures on him and made him an outcast. He thought if he could development a growth hormone to help him shrink it could help the world. Shrink tumors, etc. In addition, it could make small animals big. (Insert ANY Viagra joke!) Imagine turning small chickens into LARGE chickens? This could help increase food production, etc. Well, he admitted to Bill that he tested this hormone formula on himself. Thus, he can shrink himself down to doll size! And because of this he always carries doll clothes in his pocket. (I guess you never know when one needs to shrink down to doll size...always be prepared!).

While this friendly chat is going on, the EVIL general is working with Humanidyne to build a Neutron Beam weapon. This weapon could destroy EVERYTHING. Billy's old boss calls him and warns him about this weapon! Billy, at this point, makes it his mission to destroy the weapon, stop the EVIL general before he destroys the world! He knows he will need help doing it. But not just ordinary help; he needs a team of 'Misfits'.


Act III is spent recruiting the team of Misfits. Billy and El recruit Johnny B first. Apparently Johnny B and Billy had some 'history'. Johnny has been living a life of seclusion due to his powers. After some convincing Johnny joined Billy and El. The next Misfit to join the team was Gloria. But, with Gloria comes Jennifer, her probation officer. Kind of ironic that a probation officer joined a team who's main objective was to essentially break the law! Ah, the 80's! With these two (2) new additions to the almost complete team, Billy and company go back to Humanidyne and free the Iceman, who was being held captive. Although Billy and El were fired from Humanidyne just hours earlier, the security guards let them in the main gate. (Guess HR was not very efficient). They freed the Iceman! The team is now complete. So, what is next for the 'Misfits'? Stopping the Evil General from building the the Neutron Beam Weapon...of course!

Act IV

Needless to say, the final act involves breaking into the military base where the weapon is being built. At this point I will not bore you with the details, or lack thereof, of how these Misfits, break into a fully guarded military base. However, I will tell you the final act was similar to a long 80's music video! It should be noted the music composer for the Misfits of Science was Basil Poledouris. Mr. Poledouris composed the music for the following movies: Conan, Robocop, Free Willy, The Hunt for Red October, Starship Troopers and the 80's classic Red Dawn!

In the end, the Misfits were able to indirectly destroy the weapon and well, the evil general, in an attempt to destroy the misfits, destroyed himself, his helicopter and the weapon. (Queue happy 80's music!).

The world is safe. After a montage of 'high fives and hugs' the end credits role! Wow, talk about excitement! I cannot wait till next week to see what happens! Do the misfits go to jail for breaking into a top secret military base, destroying government property, and breaking countless traffic laws? Bet you wonder!

Till next time!
Misfits of Science Opening Title Screen


Lisa said...

Welcome, Media Guy! Thanks for tickling our neurons with these memories of such a crazy show. I don't know if I ever saw it back then, but I sure wouldn't mind watching one now, thanks to you!

Jane said...

Sadly, I do not remember anything about the Misfits of Science, but I'm not going to blame that on the show. I have failed to recollect a single note about absolutely anything in 1985! The entire year has gone blank for me! I think I was working at the LA Fox affiliate at that time. Maybe they gave me an amnesiac so that I would forget KTLA!

Anyway, welcome mysterious Media Guy. Are we to assume from your nickname that you are from the XY chromosome gender? And what neck of the world do you call home?