Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Grab Bag - SEARCH and SEARCH FOR THE GODS ""

Monday, April 14, 2014

Warner Archive Grab Bag - SEARCH and SEARCH FOR THE GODS

SEARCH The Complete Series (1972)
"World Securities" is the organization at the forefront of this show. This company is basically a high-tech private investigation firm with a groovy headquarters and multiple (three) operatives who are sent out on assignment each episode. Each operative has audio implants and has miniaturized cameras so they can send data back to HQ and get intel. I couldn't help but think a little bit of the 1992 film SNEAKERS a bit here as these teams are often infiltrating in a similar way to the SNEAKERS gang. It might have had to do with the team be essentially pretty small too because they clearly had more money than the SNEAKERS crew. SEARCH is also certainly a show taking more than a few cues from James Bond for sure. It seemed to be a vehicle for actor Hugh O'Brian at the time and has been sadly forgotten due to a lack of availability until this Warner Archive release.
Hugh O'Brian is certainly a graduate of the Charlton Heston school of acting. His cadence, teeth gritting and a square jaw make him a decent poor man's Heston with little troublechina day at all . His character in the show is certainly a charmer like 007 and somehow that increases the Heston vibe somehow. He's like Heston by way of Kenneth Mars (at least in his facial features). The show has a kind of batting order mentality in that each episode seems to focus on one of the SEARCH agents and the particulars of their specific mission. So Hugh O'Brian gets a go in one episode, then Tony Franciosa and then Doug McClure. Allow me to digress for a moment regarding Doug McClure by th way. I came to him first in the 1990s via a show called OUT OF THIS WORLD. It started a young half-alien girl named Evie (the lovely Maureen Flannagan) who could stop time and start it again at will. Very silly show, but Doug McClure was a featured player in it as a washed up actor and friend to Evie's mom. As I'd never seen McClure before, it never occurred to me that he could have done a rather significant amount of acting in the 1970s in such things as SEARCH, and movies like HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP and AT THE EARTH'S CORE. I always find it humorous now when he crops up in something because I was so used to seeing him in this dopey syndicated comedy show. Anyway, as I was saying, each of the agents gets a turn with and episode and all of them rely heavily on Burgess Meredith in the SEARCH mission control room assisting them with various bits of up-to-the-minute info and surveillance. I don't mean to be insulting to anyone, but if you don't enjoy Burgess Meredith in pretty much anything, I just don't know what to tell you. I adore the guy.
Beyond the cast, there were several other fun things about the show. Not the least of which was the gadgets. Gadgets have always something I've gotten a big kick out of. Just the idea that something small and innocent like a fountain pen could hold a high energy laser always amused me. One of the bits of gadgetry I love in this is these "scanners" that each agent is equipped with. They are like cameras that record events in real time, but not only allow playback, but also allow for the SEARCH HQ folks to read things like heartrate and other vitals signs off of. Makes no real sense, but somehow these scanners can record in "4D" or something and I just got a big kick out of that.
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SEARCH FOR THE GODS (1975; Jud Taylor)
I'm a Kurt Russell fan from way back. I love the guy and it's a 'chicken or the egg' scenario for me at this point in terms of whether I first saw him in his Disney movies (most likely) of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA back in the summer of 1986. Regardless, he's one of my heroes and I very much like coming across films of his I haven't seen for one reason or another. In the case of SEARCH FOR THE GODS, like the above mentioned SEARCH, it was due to a lack of avaibility. SEARCH FOR THE GODS was a TV movie/pilot from 1975 that never went anywhere. It's curious to think about what would have happened with Kurt Russell's career if it had gone to series and been a hit by some miracle. Would it have affected his decision to work with John Carpenter on ELVIS in 1979? If it had, that would have destroyed the universe as we know it as it would have blocked one of the greatest actor/director pairings of all-time. That being said, SEARCH FOR THE GODS was of course not picked up and basically disappeared for the past nearly 40 years until it's release on this Warner Archive DVD. I'm not sure it was ever even put out on VHS, so it may have existed only in the memories of those that saw it on TV back in the day. One thing I will say for the movie though - not enough Kurt Russell. Actor Stephen McHattie is basically the headliner here and I like the guy quite a bit actually, but he's no Kurt (though to be fair, Kurt is not quite the Kurt we know and love from the Carpenter films at this stage of his career). From IMDB, the plot synopsis for this film is this: "Two young people search for a valuable medallion, which they believe will prove that aliens from outer space visited Earth in prehistoric times." Sounds kinda neat right? Well it is to a certain degree, and feels like some kind of offshoot of the Disney films of this period - like ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, without the special powers. Kind of part that and part Hardy Boys maybe. An early predecessor to THE X-FILES perhaps. An interesting time capsule certainly.
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