Friday, June 12, 2015


THRILLER, hosted by horror film icon Boris Karloff, was an hour-long suspense anthology program that ran on NBC TV from September, 1960 to July, 1962. I never had the opportunity to see the show when it originally aired and reruns have been few and far between. I have always been under the impression that all of the episodes contained some kind of horror/supernatural element and while some certainly did, the show was at first primarily focused on telling straight, suspense stories. I've watched a couple of first season episodes lately (thanks to my DVR and MeTV) and enjoyed them both.

The episode I watched today, FATAL IMPULSE, was first broadcast on November 29th, 1960. It's the story of a mad bomber (Elisha Cook Jr.) who plots to kill a mayoral candidate by placing a bomb in the man's office. When his plan is thwarted, he hides the bomb in a ladies' hand bag on a crowded elevator. He's then killed while escaping the police but warns them of the bomb in the bag with his dying words. It's up to a determined police detective and his men to race against time to find the right woman and her purse and stop the bomb from exploding.

Several things about this episode stand out. The teleplay by Philip MacDonald was adapted from a short story by John D. MacDonald. Regular readers of this blog will know that John D. MacDonald is one of my all-time favorite writers so seeing his name in the credits was a real treat. The supporting cast includes Ed Nelson and a very young Mary Tyler Moore (in only two scenes). The woman with the bomb in her bag is played by the luscious Whitney Blake, who co-starred on the HAZEL situation comedy TV series. Here's a photo of Ms. Blake.

Robert Lansing stars as the detective hero and while watching him, a weird thought crossed my mind. Here's Mr. Lansing.

Check out those eyebrows and that prominent forehead. What if, when the back-up comic book series, JOHN JONES, MANHUNTER FROM MARS was first introduced in DETECTIVE COMICS #225 (DC Comics, November 1955), it became a huge success, so popular that the Martian Manhunter was eventually awarded his own self titled comic book series. And what if that series went on to become one of DC's top sellers, right behind the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? Here's how the character looked in both his Martian and human forms way back when.

Flash forward to 1966. BATMAN, produced by 20th Century Fox Television, is a huge success for ABC-TV. The networks and studios are anxious to get another comic book super-hero series into prime time while the craze is still hot. Execs look around, discover MARTIAN MANHUNTER comics, secure the rights from DC and cast Robert Lansing in the lead as both John Jones and the Manhunter from Mars. Sure, the make-up would have been crude, and they would have had to find some way to pad out Lansing's rather slight, slim build, but dammit, those eyebrows and forehead practically scream Martian.

What do you guys think? Am I crazy or could something like this have ever happened? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


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