By now, most of you have heard of the “Trump Trackdown” video. For those of you who haven’t, a quick recap:
This past week, Snopes.com posted about the video, which was originally posted to YouTube back in November and consists of 4 minutes of various scenes from a 1958 episode Trackdown. In the episode, a con man named Walter Trump arrives in a Texas town and tells everyone that only he can save them from the end of the world, by building a protective wall around their homes (along with selling them parasols to shield them from a meteor shower).
Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, played by none other than Robert Culp, suspects Trump is a fraud. At one point in the episode, Trump threatens to sue. Hoby doesn’t take any crap and eventually exposes Trump for the fraud that he is.
The Snopes article and video have since gone viral. This pleases me in several ways, not the least of which is the recognition and exposure Trackdown is getting, which currently runs on MeTV Saturday mornings (and also on the network Heroes and Icons) after having been absent from television for many years. The video has been shared and talked about on social media all week, with some 40,000 shares alone on Facebook as of the time of this posting. A lot of folks have never heard of the show. Many seem curious to learn more about it.
With that in mind, I wanted to point out a couple of things that I’ve noticed in comments and blog posts of recent days. First, Trackdown is NOT in the public domain. The show’s copyright and distribution rights are owned by CBS, which is the network it originally aired on from 1957 to 1959.
There is no official DVD release of the show. However, there is a DVD set that’s floating around out there, but the video quality is atrocious (to put it kindly). The source material was literally VHS recordings of the show from local TV stations and TVLand airings dating from the late 1980s. Those of us of a certain age know what VHS quality looked like.
I was thrilled when Trackdown began airing on MeTV back in October of 2016. I’ve tried to watch at least one episode on Saturday mornings on MeTV (two eps run back to back) and the film quality is exceptionally better than the cruddy DVD copy I’ve seen. The show is much more enjoyable to watch.
Which brings me to my ultimate wish (well, one of them anyway!) I’m talking to you CBS. With curiosity and interest in Trackdown increasing the more the video and Snopes article is shared, this would be a wonderful time to look at putting Trackdown out on DVD before the end of 2017.
With the return of Trackdown and The Greatest American Hero to TV screens it seemed appropriate to post an updated listing of where you can view these shows and others.
Trackdown can be seen on MeTV and on Heroes and Icons. Check your local listings for times and availability.
I Spy is currently not running on any television networks (although RetroTV still has a page for it on their website), but can be seen online via Hulu, Yahoo View and on the PROClassicTV streaming service. Yahoo View is free (with occasional commercials during the episode) while Hulu and PRO require subscriptions. However, in the case of PRO, individual episodes can be viewed for .99 a piece.
The Greatest American Hero can be seen on Heroes and Icons and streaming on Hulu with subscription and for free on Yahoo View. Yes, the pilot episode is conspicuously absent from the online streaming services.
You can also check out JustWatch.com, which currently lists where you can find 17 Culp films and TV series’ that can be viewed online or purchased. I consider it my civic duty to warn you to NOT waste your money on National Lampoon’s Movie Madness. Just don’t. Trust me.
Oh. Yeah, you have heard this before. About a year ago, when Fox gave the green light to Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed THE LEGO MOVIE and also directed a big screen version of Stephen Cannell’s 21 JUMP STREET, to film a pilot for a new take on THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. We’ve heard nothing more since then about a script, or actors or anything.
It’s been a year and apparently a change in writers, but a casting director has now been hired to scout out some talent. Nathan Fillion expressed some interest in playing the lead during a Q&A session at Chicago’s Wizard World Comic Con back in August, 2015.
It’s also unclear if the concept has changed. Originally, it sounded like Ralph, Pam and Bill were NOT going to be rebooted, that it would be all new original characters; an inner city teacher named Issac would be the recipient of the suit. Now, based on the recent Deadline Hollywood article, the script written by Rick Famuyiwa (DOPE), “is the story of what happens when great power is not met with great responsibility. An ordinary man, completely content with being average, wakes up with a superpower suit he never asked for and has to deal with the complications it brings his life.”
Given Hollywood’s penchant for lampooning and doing parody’s of original shows, it really doesn’t sound encouraging.
If being featured on a bubblegum trading card is a sign of success, Robert Culp hit pay dirt when Trackdown was included in the 1958 Topps TV Westerns trading card set. The set featured several TV westerns including Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train and several others. A total of 71 cards were in the set with most shows having five or six cards a piece (Gunsmoke had a whopping 15!). The set was very popular and the cards continue to circulate among collectors today.
Trackdown had five cards in the set and is the second show featured (after Gunsmoke) in the set.
It’s been talked about for years, as either a feature film or a new TV series, but FOX appears to be the latest player in the attempt to bring back Stephen Cannell’s GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed THE LEGO MOVIE and also directed a big screen version of Cannell’s 21 JUMP STREET, have apparently been given the green light to film a pilot for a new series. Based on the brief description provided by Deadline.com, it sounds like the characters will be all new and will not be reboots of Ralph, Pam and Bill respectively.
Despite the rather dismal track record for TV reboots, Hollywood keeps trying. We’ll reserve judgment on this one until the pilot episode actually sees the light of a TV screen.
Using information mentioned or otherwise inferred in the episodes and from the 1994 I Spy Returns TV movie, Barbara K. Emanuele has compiled comprehensive character bios for Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott. Given the fact that the show ran for three seasons and accounting for continuity issues and conflicting tidbits, Barbara has managed to pull together information that brings further depth to these characters. TheConsummateCulp.com is pleased to showcase these character bios!
“They were partners in the truest sense of the word. Ideally matched in wit, charm, looks, and strength, at no point was one far superior to the other. Mission after mission, locked room after opened room, they were equals who never let the obvious difference in race be anything more than a physical difference. Their work and their cover allowed them to function above the racial turmoil of the late sixties.”
Oh no, this was no April Fool’s joke. A military plane with a top secret gun sight is stolen in broad day light and the government is scrambling to find it and get it back before it ends up in enemy hands. But FBI Agent Bill Maxwell knows how to find it. All he needs is Ralph and the suit.
Except Ralph isn’t so willing to drop everything to go after some military hardware that, big deal, “can hit a beer can from five miles out.” After all, he’s got other plans. Pam’s parents are coming in for a visit, he’s supposed to meet Pam to pick them up at the airport, they’re going to dinner… We’re on the third episode of the show and this suit is damn inconvenient, Bill…
Prior to watching the dreadful National Lampoon’s Movie Madness I had discovered that the TV movie The Blue Lightning from 1986 was given a proper DVD release earlier this year (2013). I had seen a few clips of Culp from this one on YouTube and, of course, loved the aviators, the Irish accent and the riding boots. I hoped to find the movie to see the whole thing some day.
I was very glad to find it on DVD and had watched it just before seeing the National Lampoon movie. To set things right in my world I figured to go back and wipe the memory of National Lampoon from my mind and take a look at The Blue Lightning again.
Besides, I needed to do some screen caps y’know…
The movie opens in Opal Ridge, Australia where Quinton McQueen is tied to a tree and is about to be left for dead by Lester McInally (Culp). (Lester’s last name, to note, is pronounced two different ways in this movie; the Australian pronunciation sounds like “McKinley” while the American way is like it’s spelled, Mac-In-Ally.) Quinton pleads to not be left tied to the tree where the wild dogs would get to him and eat him alive. One of McInally’s thugs, Mr. Words, asks for McInally to show some mercy. After some thought, McInally agrees and as Mr. Words starts for the tree to untie McQueen, McInally pulls his gun and shoots McQueen, killing him. “There,” he says to Words, “we’ve saved him from the dingos…”
(Clip courtesy of FedKidCounselor)
Hell of an intro for Culp’s character! And he’s just as merciless through the rest of the movie.