Friday, December 16, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Freeway to Death"

It's not often someone can take on the captain of the USS Enterprise...and win!
The Green Hornet can!
OK, technically, he's not the captain of the Enterprise here, but Jeffrey Hunter was the first man to sit in the captain's chair during the first Star Trek pilot episode, "The Cage".
When NBC said, "close, but not quite", and ordered a second pilot, Hunter turned down the option to return, preferring to do a pilot for Batman producer William Dozier called Journey into Fear based on a novel by Eric Ambler, previously done as a feature film in the 1940s starring Orson Welles!
Ironically, it was in competition for an NBC schedule slot against, among other shows, a second Star Trek pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" with William Shatner as the new captain of the Enterprise!
Trek sold. Journey didn't.
Hunter began doing tv guest-star roles, and when offered, took the guest-villain gig on Dozier's Green Hornet series, playing construction magnate Emmett Crown, who's also secretly financing an insurance company which offers "protection" to businesses!
Daily Sentinel reporter Mike Axford is investigating the matter and is told by his boss, Britt Reid, to work with The Green Hornet to expose the still-unknown head of the "insurance" company! Axford intends to do exactly that, and capture The Hornet, as well!
It's cross and double-cross as plans are made and plans go awry, resulting in kool fight scenes, Crown being exposed and captured, and The Hornet and Kato escaping the law again!
More location shooting, this time at an active construction site outside LA, where Britt Reid is almost "accidentally" killed and, later, The Hornet and Kato face several of Crown's bulldozers trying to crush the Black Beauty.
Since the car's rockets are ineffective against the heavy metal blades of the bulldozers, The Hornet and Kato use the previously-unseen Hornet Mortar (located in the same rear trunk compartment where the flying Hornet Scanner is kept), to loft explosive shells over the blades and disable the dozers' treads (and probably kill the drivers)! The Hornet Mortar is never seen or mentioned again!
From December 16, 1966..."Freeway to Death".
Next Week:
The Green Hornet dabbles in politics!
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Friday, December 9, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Secret of the Sally Bell"

The only person who knows where a shipment of illegal drugs is hidden on a salvaged freighter is accidentally rendered comatose before he can tell The Green Hornet and Kato.
They take him to a nearby hospital for treatment, but, after they leave, the man's associates kidnap him...and the attending doctor.
Now our dynamic duo have to a) rescue the doctor, b) keep the comatose guy alive, and c) stop the criminals from acquiring the drugs.
It's cross and double-cross as The Hornet allies himself with the crooks to accomplish his own goals.
But the gangsters have no intention of keeping their side of the deal, either...
Side notes:
For the first time, we see the Black Beauty operated by remote control, including maneuvering and firing it's front-mounted rockets at a sniper trying to kill The Hornet and Kato.
One of the running gags on both Batman and The Green Hornet was showing characters on one series watching the other series on tv! In this ep, the crooks are watching Batman when it's interrupted by a news bulletin about The Green Hornet leaving a wounded man (their drug contact) at a hospital.
More location shooting, this time at a commercial Los Angeles shipyard seen in a number of films and tv series, most notably Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
The show indavertantly poses a question...where is the Green Hornet's unnamed city?
The "Sally Bell" is described as wrecked by a typhoon, and towed to port!
Typhoons only occur in the Pacific Ocean, so the Hornet's city must be on the West Coast, right!
Except, in comics or the radio show, it was described as being one of several midwestern cities; usually Detriot (where the show's home station, WXYZ was located) or Chicago!
And the idea of a character running around in an overcoat in a town where "winter" is usually in the 70-degree range is...odd to say the least!

From December 9th, 1966..."The Secret of the Sally Bell".
Next Week:
The Green Hornet meets the first captain of the USS Enterprise!
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Deadline for Death"

A series of wealthy home break-ins has one thing in common...all the victims had recently been profiled by Daily Sentinel reporter Mike Axford!
Has he used his interviews to case the homes?
When Axford is arrested at the site of the latest break-in, The Green Hornet and Kato must uncover evidence to free the hapless newshound.
The Green Hornet has his first solo fight scene...which he loses! (To be fair, it is against three guys.) When he and Kato catch up to the three crooks in the finale, guess who wins?
When the Hornet is trapped, Kato grabs the Hornet Sting he dropped and blasts the door open. When Van Williams saw how Bruce Lee elegantly-flicked the Sting open in the dailies, he decided to adopt the mannerism himself for the remainder of the series!
Seeking info, The Hornet questions a stolen-goods fence named Tubbs, indicating that he's been allowing the fence to continue operating as long as he served The Hornet when needed. A nice touch, adding credibility to the crimefighter's cover as a criminal.
Later, there's a scene at Reid's home where the duo, in costume, but without masks or hats, review evidence. This happens several times in the series. (You never saw Batman and Robin partially in costume)
More location shooting, this time at a small local airport and aircraft hanger also used in several Batman episodes.
Much more day-for-night photography.
Originally airing December 2, 1966..."Deadline for Death".

Next Week:
The Green Hornet gets involved in drug-running!
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Friday, November 25, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Hunters and the Hunted"

The opening narration to the Hornet's radio show was "The Green Hornet; he hunts the biggest of all game..."
In this tv episode, the tables are turned.
Wealthy (and crooked) businessman Quentin Crane and his fellow members of the exclusive Explorers' Club use exotic weaponry (like blowguns and crossbows) to hunt and kill gang leaders.
Ironically, the other members are well-intentioned innocents who believe their "hunts" will end crime in the city, while Crane is using them to eliminate competition as he takes over, one gang at a time!
And...the group's next targets are...The Green Hornet and his masked associate!
When Crane's gangsters break into Reid's home intending to kill him, Kato (with Reid's aid) take them down.
It's the second time we see Kato in action sans costume, and the first time in the series we see an unmasked Reid in a fight.

Speaking of which, I wonder what do Reid's neighbors think of the constant hubub at the young publisher's townhouse?
If it's not a robbery where a police car gets blown up by a laser beam ("The Ray is for Killing"), or gunshots ("Beautiful Dreamer"), this episode features the first of several noisy brawls in the house.
And then there's the sinister black car constantly prowling the alleys at all hours...
Those neighborhood association meetings must have been interesting!
 (At least the tv Batman's oft-invaded stately Wayne Manor was out in the country. No neighbors to disturb!)

Another thing, the criminals who raid Reid's house are the same baddies he and Kato KOed (while in costume) at a gang-leader's office earlier in the episode.
We don't see them again.
Rather than let the twice-trashed hoods put 2+2 together ("That little guy who helped Reid fights like the Hornet's driver...Hey wait a sec..."), I wonder if Britt and Kato discreetly "disposed" of them?

There's a LOT of day-for-night scenes.
Depending on the quality of the episode's print, I've seen it almost as bright as day, to barely able to make out silhouettes.
From November 25th, 1966..."The Hunters and the Hunted"

Next Week:
The Green Hornet must discover who framed the Daily Sentinel's crime reporter Mike Axford, for burglary!
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Preying Mantis"

Did you know The Green Hornet was promoted as "The Kato Show" in Hong Kong?
The spotlight is on Kato, as he and The Green Hornet battle a normally-benevolent Chinese secret society whose younger members are extorting "protection" money from helpless Chinatown business owners.
In addition, the society (or "tong") is being secretly manipulated by white gangsters using one of the tong members, Low Sing, as a cats-paw.
The Hornet wants to end the protection racket by removing Low Sing from his position of power by exposing the gangsters' influence on him.
Side Notes: When people mention The Green Hornet tv series, this is the episode they usually refer to.
It was the featured episode (due to it's emphasis on Chinese martial arts) in a compilation movie released theatrically shortly after Bruce Lee died.

This is the ep for Bruce Lee fans as he finally gets to strut his stuff in solo combat against multiple foes!
Lee choreographed the fights, including the one-on-one finale with Low Sing.
Rumor has it that most of the tong members participating in the climactic fight scene were students from Lee's dojo.

It's the only episode where Kato is defeated in hand-to-hand combat as a masked Low Sing attacks him from behind early in the ep.

Besides blasting a door and a tommy-gun with it, The Hornet uses the Hornet Sting extended to full-length as a fighting staff several times in this episode

There are things in this ep that beg the question; what's Kato's ethnicity in the tv series?
On the radio show he's said to be "Oriental", which became Filipino after World War II began.
In the two 1940s movie serials, he was Korean.
In the 1980s NOW Comics (which took the various Green Hornets and made them into a family legacy much like The Phantom) and the current Dynamite series, he's Japanese.
In this episode, he's familiar with Chinatown and many of it's residents, especially the lovely Mary Chang.
He speaks Chinese, and translates conversations between tong members for the Hornet's benefit.
Plus, he's well aware of social conventions and procedures of the tong itself.
Of course, he's well-versed in the Chinese martial art of gung-fu.
Is he Chinese? It's never specifically stated.

Curiously, at the end of the episode, when Britt Reid, Lenore Case, Mike Axford and the previously-blackmailed businessmen celebrate over dinner at one of the businessmen's restaurant, Kato is nowhere to be seen!

Weird Trivia: the toy company that resurrected the 1960s Captain Action action figure line 20 years ago with both a reissued Green Hornet costume and a never-before done Kato costume was called "Playing Mantis"!
Here's the tenth episode aired on November 18th, 1966..."The Preying Mantis".
And here's a bonus: the feature film combining this episode plus several others!
Next Week:
The Green Hornet, who "hunts the biggest of all game" (as his radio show opening said) finds himself being stalked!
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Friday, November 11, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Ray is for Killing"

The Green Hornet and Kato face art thieves armed...with a laser rifle?
Except for the two-part series finale, "Invasion from Outer Space", this was the most scifi-oriented episode of the series.
Usually, the show was a straight "detectives with masks" format, dealing with gangsters, extortionists, etc.
No flashy costumed villains.
No super-weapons (except The Hornet's arsenal, of course).
Curiously, there's no explanation as to how these criminals got their hands on a laser, who taught them how to use it (or who's gonna fix it if it breaks), or why they're not using it for more lucrative crimes.

We don't know who built the laser.
These guys certainly didn't have the scientific background to do so.
Was there a mad scientist running around the city?

Why didn't The Hornet take the laser and incorporate it into his weaponry?
As it is, leaving it for the police left open the possibility that they could adapt it and use it against him and Kato!

The laser itself is shown to be powered by simply plugging it into an electrical outlet!
(110 or 220 volts?)
It also conveniently fits into a suitcase.

There's location shooting in the Los Angeles storm drain system, both inside the tunnels (where the Black Beauty's green headlights really glow with an eerie effect unseen any other time in the series), and outside using some of the same viaducts seen in Terminator 2 and THEM!

Though it's the ninth episode aired, this was the second episode shot, after "Programmed for Death".

From November 11, 1966..."The Ray is for Killing"!
Next Week:
The most-famous Green Hornet episode of all!
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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Captain's Library THE GREEN HORNET "Proof of Treason" Conclusion

Why does Mayoral candidate Wilkes Sherman hire a criminal to bomb the home of nuclear scientist Professor Baldwin?
When the police track down the bomber, an assassin ends his life before he can talk.
The Green Hornet, who followed the police to the bomber, trails the murderer back to Sherman, and discovers the politician is actually a Commie spy!
In addition, he learns Professor Baldwin is a former Communist now working for the US, and the Commies want him brought back behind the Iron Curtain!
When The Green Hornet enters the meeting, the assassin tries to shoot him, but is KOed by the Hornet's gas gun.
The Hornet then makes a deal to grab the professor and turn him over to Sherman for $5,000. (It was 1953, remember?)
As a free bonus to Sherman, he'll "get rid" of the unconscious murderer (whom he turns over to the police along with the murder weapon.)
Curiously, though both stories in this issue of Dell's Four Color Comics #496 (1953) are adaptations of radio episodes, this was published a year after the radio series was cancelled!
Art on both stories is presumed to be by Frank Thorne, but there are influences of several other artists, including Don Heck and Frank Giacoia, so it's possible they performed uncredited penciling and/or inking assists to meet the deadline.
Note: The second-to-last page of the tale is black-and-white rather than four-color because it appeared on the inside front cover (Both the front and back inside covers were monochrome to save money).
The final page of the story was the comic's back cover!
The radio episode of the same name the comic story is derived from aired 10/17/52 during the final season of the show.
It's available on the Radio Spirits cd compiliation Green Hornet: Endpoint (which curiously uses the cover of the Hornet's first comic book as it's cover), which you can order below.
The Hornet and Kato didn't appear again in comics until early 1967, when the first issue of their Gold Key series, based on the tv show starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, was published.
Next Week:
The TV series returns with a bang (or a ZAP!) as The Hornet and Kato face laser-armed criminals!
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Captain's Theatre THE GREEN HORNET "Proof of Treason"

Since there was no Green Hornet TV episode on this date 50 years ago (a movie special preempted the 7-9pm slot), we're running a classic Green Hornet radio episode instead!
And, since it's almost Election Day, it's an election-themed ep with anti-Commie elements!
From October 17, 1952 (the radio series' final season), it's...
(Click on the title to open player in a new window)
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