Like Colt Seavers, Judge Paul Pritchard hires his body out for pay. Business has been pretty lean, to be honest.
"This is the story of one of America's great unsung heroes. I mean you've seen him but you never knew who he was. You've cheered for him and cried for him and women have wanted to die for him. But did he ever get any credit or the girl? No! He's what we call the "Stuntman" and the reason I'm talking so fondly about him is, well because it's me, Colt Seavers."
Born Harvey Lee Yeary, and later changing his name by adopting his own middle name and that from his cousin Johnny Majors, Lee Majors is proof that some men are just born to be that little bit better, a little bit cooler. Like other great men that have littered history; Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill, Robert De Niro, Paulo Maldini, me (cough), Majors just has an effortless cool that made him a huge TV star in the 70's and 80's. Following his role as Colonel Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man, Austin tried his hand in the movies. When this failed to replicate the success of his TV career he returned to what he did best and, once again, hit gold with The Fall Guy.
Facts of the Case
Aided by his younger cousin, Howie Munson (Douglass Barr) and stunt girl Jody Banks (Heather Thomas), Colt helps pay the rent between movie roles by taking jobs from Samantha 'Big Jack' Jack (Jo Ann Pflug) who would always seem to pick the wrong people to bail out of jail.
This six-disc box set contains all 22 episodes of the first season of The Fall Guy and breaks down like this:
• "The Meek Shall Inherit Rhonda"
• "The Rich Get Richer"
• "Colt's Angels"
• "The Human Torch"
• "The Japanese Connection"
• "License to Kill (Part One)"
• "License to Kill (Part Two)"
• "Goin' For It"
• "Soldiers Of Misfortune"
• "Ready, Aim, Die"
• "Ladies On The Ropes"
• "Guess Who's Coming To Town?"
• "Child's Play"
• "The Silent Partner"
• "Scavenger Hunt"
TV seems to be going through something of a golden period these past few years, series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, and the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica have captivated audiences and shown how the small screen can match the thrills traditionally only associated with the big screen. What I have personally found stopping me getting into a number of these new series is the way that shows have evolved from being one story per episode to season long story arcs. Missing an episode can be fatal to understanding what is going on and, as thrilling as it is to see a show develop like, say, Heroes it can take a lot of man hours to keep up with all these shows. I often find myself yearning for a show where I can miss an episode or two and not worry I won't be able to jump back into the action. Shows like The A-Team, Battle of the Planets, or best of all The Fall Guy.
Lee Majors was something of a hero of mine when I was growing up and, for my money, which at the time the show originally aired was probably only enough to buy a chocolate bar, The Fall Guy was just about the best show on TV, well that or The Muppet Show.
Each week the show would start with Colt Seavers (Majors) performing a stunt on a movie set, next he'd be tasked with brining some bail runner to justice and usually end up using the same stunt we'd seen at the start of the show to catch his man. The end. Each week it was exactly the same. It was brilliant!
Nostalgia, of course, can be a cruel mistress, and so it was with no little trepidation that I put in the first disc of The Fall Guy. I needn't have worried. Somehow the show holds up, really, really well. Sure it's cheesy, dated and is basically regurgitating the same plot each episode, but none of this matters. The show has an infectious charm, everyone involved seems to be having a great time and get this, its surprisingly well written. Sure it has none of the complexities of a JJ Abrams show, but it has tightly written episodes that give the viewer a near perfect blend of action (often rather spectacular, check out the sky diving from one plane to another in "The Meek Shall Inherit Rhonda") and tongue-in-cheek humour. The show even occasionally had time for sentiment. The double length pilot episode features a cameo from Farrah Fawcett, who Majors had recently split from in real life. The scene is surprisingly touching, moving even, no small feat when the leading man is dressed as a woman.
In fact it's Major's very screen presence that ensures the series doesn't succumb to its more cheesy or farfetched elements. It's completely unbelievable to think a stuntman could go toe-to-toe with a sword wielding Yakuza boss and survive, yet, due to Major's deadeye look of determination and surly wit, we never once doubt he'll come out on top.
As the first season progresses a few, admittedly minor, changes occur. Rogue agents and the Yakuza will occasionally replace or get tangled up in the bail runner of the week storylines and even a little globetrotting manages to sneak into the agenda as more money was put into the show. It helps ensure the series never becomes stale and overly predictable. The relationship between Colt and Howie also continues to thrive, with Majors and Barr seemingly having a great time bouncing cool one-liners off of one other.
Although there were occasionally consequences to it, (characters are actually killed in the show), the violence is of a cartoon like nature. Pretty much every visit to a bar results in a mass brawl, men will crawl out of car wrecks without a scratch on them and a man can take a severe beating and have nothing but a cut lip to show for it. In other words, this is pure escapism, there is no deep meaning here, no hidden subtext, and it is pure, straight-ahead entertainment at 100 miles per hour.
Audio and video are both perfectly fine. Sure they're not up to the standards of modern blockbusters that frequent the DVD format, but for a TV series that's over 25 years old it's pretty damn good. Colours are vibrant and while the image is a little soft The Fall Guy has never looked better. The mono soundtrack is nothing to write home about but is clear and has no faults to speak of. Put it this way, the shows classic theme tune, "The Unknown Stuntman," which was actually performed by Majors, sounds better than ever, that alone is reason enough to buy the set.
Extras are limited to a brief retrospective on the show, featuring Lee Majors himself, and a piece on the shows theme tune. It would have been nice to see more effort put into the extras but it seems to be the norm for old TV shows to skimp on additional content.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Well, as stated previously, each episode follows the same basic formula which some may find tiresome. Those used to today's labyrinthine plots will likely find the show overly simplistic and lacking in depth. If you can put that aside though the show itself is hard to criticise.
There is the small matter that it is blatantly obvious when Lee Major's own stuntman is being used. Not a major failing but something that's hard to miss, personally I didn't find it distracting, actually adding the odd unintentional laugh and certainly a certain amount of irony that a show where the star playing a stuntman actually has his own stunt double.
It would have been nice to see more in the way of extras. Though I'm sure behind the scenes footage is either scarce or non-existent, I would have liked a more comprehensive retrospective on the show, especially considering its popularity at the time it aired on TV.
Tough enough to give even B.A. Baracus a run for his money and clever enough to outsmart Jessica Fletcher, Colt Seavers is a true hero. The show is from a simpler time when dense plots with head scratching twists were not required. Each week you were given a new story, the occasional two-parter was an event and people wearing Stetsons in a bar meant only one thing, a fight was imminent. This is truly great TV that all the family can enjoy. If it's not already obvious I loved the chance to relive this show and can't recommend it highly enough.
Yeah, like I'm going to throw Colt Seavers in the slammer, he'd only be bailed out by Big Jack anyway and set out to clear his name. He, along with everyone else associated with the show is free to go of course, we need to treat our heroes with respect…especially the unsung ones.
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Scales of Justice
• Remembering the Fall Guy: An American Classic
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