Episode 814- Riding With Death

Movie Summary: This epic slice of the 70s is actually two episodes of a failed and monumentally stupid TV series welded together. It (they) star(s) the vacuous, meaty Ben Murphy, an alleged Harvard Law grad, now a super-agent for a super secret agency that works out of a parking garage in Sherman Oaks. On a super secret mission, radiation turned Ben invisible rather than killing him and ending the series before it started, dammit.
In the first episode of the -- ahem -- movie, addle-pated Ben plays a trucker, a station far beyond his intellect, and along with Heywood Floyd from
2001: a Space Odyssey spearheads a badly planned transport of a super-secret fuel additive from --
Aw, who the hell am I kidding? Why even bother? The plot is stupid and pointless, the dialogue pat and smarmy, the actors stagy in that mid-70s Universal Television "who-gives-a-good-crap" sort of way, Heywood Floyd is embarrassingly bad. And to cap it off,
Riding With Death showcases the slimy ministrations of the insipid, badly dressed and apparently talentless cracker Jim Stafford. And I'm just talking about the good stuff.

Prologue: Mike shows off his talents as a teppanyaki chef, chopping everything in sight; he slices off one of Crows claws, cooks it lightly and serves it to him. Yum.

Segment One: Mike and the 'Bots get an urgent call from the nice camping planet: Bobo, Pearl and Brain Guy are under attack by renegade warlike robots! Bobo has Gas, Brain Guy is dressed like a nurse, and Mike ultimately blows up yet another planet, by gum.

Segment Two: Servo, looking not unlike Anthony Geary,* plugs in his Arp and struts his stuff in a musical tribute to the 70s. But poor dumb Servo has got it wrong, he wrote about the decade of 70 A.D. (or C.E., if you must), not the nineteen 70s! Hilarity ensues. Crow rounds out the cast.

Segment Three: Servo, inspired by all the trucking in the movie, has somehow procured a skinny-legged but paunchy trucker body, complete with flannel shirt, little cowboy boots and belt buckle. Mike points out that he has no butt. Servo takes exception; he likes his butt and talks to it.

Segment Four: Crow appears in just the cutest little outfit, and declares himself Turkey Volume Guessing Man! The premise hinges on one or two colloquial uses of the word "turkey" in a pejorative context, and quickly collapses when Mike demonstrates his own uncanny ability to guess an area's volume in increments of turkeys.

Segment Five: On the S.O.L., Mike and the 'Bots try to recreate a canned method of injecting a actor who wasn't in a film into the film. It fails. In the Widowmaker, Pearl forced Bobo and Brain Guy to honor her with so many medals and ribbons for bravery she topples, sending them careening off into the beyond somewhere.

Reflections: While we were shooting this episode, a crew from Gold Coast Productions was at our studio, shooting a behind-the-scenes special. Bill Corbett was dressed in his Observer makeup as a nurse, all day long. As a result, many viewers might come away with the impression that Bill is a cross-dressing albino. This is very, very true.
During the production of the behind-the-scenes special, the producers made the mistake of giving us home video cameras to document our true selves at work. I think you will see us as we are, a bunch of bizarre, hammy, blathering fools who somehow have barely enough wits about us to cobble together a puppet show in a reasonable amount of time.
As for the movie
Riding with Death, I could go on for hours on how annoyingly inept this thing was. Looking over the Encyclopedia of Prime Time TV, it becomes apparent that casting Ben Murphy was the kiss of death for a series, and yet he managed to work for years without anyone becoming suspect. And Jim Stafford, I'm told, was once named one of the ten best dressed men in America, giving additional weight to my argument that the 1970s was the most shameful era in fashion perhaps in the history of Civilization, with the possible exception of the Elizabethan era when men wore panty hose and puffy shorts in public. -- Kevin Murphy.

*Anthony Geary played Luke on General Hospital, a character who rose to become America's favorite sexual predator.


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