Colt Seavers has been seen with Burton, he’s never been with an actor so fine…
Richard Burton guest stars as himself in an episode about that Hollywood stuntman and part time bounty hunter retro series.
Fall Guy (Intro/ End Credits), blast from the past
Before signing up for this TV Episode blogathon, I mulled over ideas including several well known 1980s TV Series crossovers and those more random Special Guest Star appearances. Surprisingly to myself (and now probably you, regular readers) most of these thoughts didn’t include any of the original Dallas (1978-91) cast (!!!).
Although, the lead in this TV series review, Lee Majors does appear in that Dallas
2012 (2012-14) reboot. I’m told Majors appeared as an old flame to Sue Ellen Ewing in the second series. But no offence to Majors character but I’d like to think she said JR Ewing (Larry Hagman), you ain’t. Anyway, in theory this review choice then may count as yet another Dallas related post, but in practice it doesn’t as I still haven’t watched it.
Anyway.. those review choices pondered over included the 2-in-1 episode where Fantasy Island (1977-84) met The Love Boat (1977-87). Or writing on that bizarre double act of when Magnum (1980-88) teamed up with Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote (1984-96). TV appearances from favourite actors and actresses such as Ruth Gordon, William Shatner, Lee Grant, Rock Hudson and more were seriously tempting me in the likes of Columbo (1971-2003) and more. So after recalling a fabulous post for my blogathon on a certain many an Oscar nominated Welsh actor, I finally signed up for something completely different. Which the eagle eyed of you probably got from reading the title or the first paragraph of this TV tribute.
This particular episode of this in this 80s action adventure series was chosen due to a certain much nominated surprising appearance. Cue drum roll. I now present.. tada tadaaa, an episode of The Fall Guy (1981-86) named Reluctant Traveling Companion (S2 e6). With this episode boasting of the special guest star appearance of one, seven times nominated for an Academy Award, one time Realweegiemidget blogathon tributed, Richard Burton. Yes, you did read this right and thanks to K. Sturton of A Scunner Darkly for inspiring me in my quest. This Burton role making it clearly essential not to be missed viewing! Need I say more…
The Fall Guy was compulsive viewing for my family in the 1980s. The TV show telling of Colt Seavers – played by heart throb to many – Lee Majors as the rugged movie stunt man with a twist. As in between movie and TV gigs Seaver moonlights as a bounty hunter (as you do). He’s aided by two side kicks in both his work and sideline. For starters, there’s his (usually comic relief read inept and annoying) cousin and manager, Howie (Douglas Barr). Howie would no doubt probably have been up for murder in residing in prison had this been a Murder She Wrote crossover. But sadly this not to be. But in his defence, the salary budget of this show must have gone mainly to entice Burton. As its seen Majors co-stars get only about 2 scenes and ten lines between them in this episode. The other of Seavers’ buddies is your (token) 1980s leggy pretty girl assistant (aka totty for your dad), Jody (Heather Thomas).
The series lasted a total of 5 seasons, with blink and miss it movie footage in the credits. The sources of these excerpts are now I’m sure more obvious with age and (much) more movie watching. Unless of course you watch it again – and again – simply to reignite your first crush on Lee Majors (you know who you are). These movie shots were combined with guest stars and cameos as diverse as James Coburn, Doug McClure, Dana Hill, David Hedison, Erin Gray and Tab Hunter. These stars along with Dallas stars Morgan Brittany, Mary Crosby and Monte Markham make it now essential Realweegiemidget retro rewatch telly viewing.
It won’t be a surprise to anyone, that allegedly Dwayne Johnson – aka The Rock – was believed to be looking into a lead role in a film remake of this series. Or that the show won an award for Best Aerial Stunt (Television) in a Stuntman Award ceremony. The episodes in the first series started of course with that spiel from Majors outlining mansplaining the premise of the show (in a rather long winded monologue) and then Majors singing that familiar theme song, The Ballad Of The Unknown Stuntman. Thankfully, this monlogue was cut as the series continued..
On a side note.. after hearing this theme song years later, I finally got the Farrah (Fawcett) lyrical reference. Farrah Fawcett back then was the former Mrs Lee Majors (the pair in the midst of divorcing when the pilot was made). This ditty also adding then leading ladies such as Sally Field and Raquel Welch to those immortal lines. This song is THE musical tribute to movie and TV stars of this time, making it another reason I don’t want Dwayne Johnson to remake it. As no doubt those rebooters will totally rehash these lyrics to an “up to date version” and (probably) add a cameo from Majors in the movie.
Imdb highlights this particular episode I’m reviewing as one of the most highly rated episodes of the whole series. It certainly sold it to me, to revisit this episode after learning of Burton’s appearance. It was lovely to hear his unmistakable Welsh dulcet tones and watch Burton in his gravitas crossed with tongue in cheek performance. This in an alternately compelling viewing and at times totally silly, contrived but fun episode. It was however tinged with sadness as this one of Burton’s last performances on the wee screen.
After the initial opening music – which sounded like a late 1970s disco instrumental – the episode switches to a full tilt bad guy dramatic tune as a dastardly banker dispatches a couple of his henchmen on an assignment. These played by a trio of actors I didn’t know but kinda recognised. Their mission to track down and kill Christine Smith (Lady Margaret Humes) – an (obviously attractive) young lady – who has been embezzling funds from them. This woman is currently in the custody of the Philadelphia cops for this and says she only did this to recover her father’s money. However then finding about the bank’s illegal and shady doings in the process. Christine is to be taken from Philadelphia to LA by an unknown Private Investigator or a legal warrant bearer. With the head honcho bad guy briefing those bad guys to kill her and also her escort if necessary…
Cue the first appearances from our favourite Bounty Hunter (and stuntsman) and his buddies. Colt (Lee Majors) is showing us how not to land on a truck as he practices this stunt in his day job. This in a natty bit of stunt foreshadowing which took place in many an episode. He’s unable to do this and it doesn’t come with a don’t try this at home safety warning. He’s then grudgingly recruited to escort Christine back to LA as boss Terri (Markie Post) asks for his help. He only decides on the gig as a. Christine’s hot and b. there’s 5000 dollars payment. So after turning down Jodie and Howie’s requests to help him, Seavers collects the young lady concerned from the police station. She’s not a happy bunny and of course there is the almost inevitable clash but obvious (and obligatory) romantic chemistry between her and Seavers.
The pair then catch a train – as she claims she’s afraid of flying – and a three day journey before them in one wee carriage with the one bed. En route they learn that those bad guys are in pursuit of Christine.. These men have also boarded the train (cue bad guy dramatic music). And they appear to the the only people on board. Along with our special guest star in the carriage next to this pair is the actor, Richard Burton and the train worker making 6 people on the train.
Burton being the reluctant travelling companion mentioned. He’s on his way to make a movie (as he does). Burton apparently worked with – the fictional – Seavers back in the day on The Desert Rats. Bearing in mind this film did star Burton but was made in 1953 and this when Majors only 14 this idea is kinda crazy. Anyway, Burton tells the train attendant he does not want disturbed during the journey as he has a script to work on. This story line of course leads to comedy gold (for some) as he puts up with screaming from Christine who tries to escape from Seavers’ clutches.
Seavers meanwhile also goes full tilt gushing, humble and sucking up to the Welsh acting one on meeting him. For the benefit of the viewers, his character’s disbelief in meeting Burton shown to the limit. He mentions this actor by name more often than I mention Dallas in this particular review. Seavers makes out he’s working on a movie to cover up for the random screams and shouts for help from Christine. This also to impress Burton, who he hopes will give him a job. He even uses this white lie to explain why he drops bad guy over the side of a train to his death after Burton witnesses this happen from his carriage. Burton believes him…
The plot chuggs along with some stock footage of the train. This interspersed with a great comically well timed performance from Burton and Majors. Burton sends himself up brilliantly with his ability to add his gravitas and his presences to the more dramatic lines and alternately with a glint in his eye to some great amusing one liners. His comic timing in his performance seen throughout this episode, he seems much more a fun side sick for Seavers than Barr. With the two actors showing a great double act and easy rapport in the script delivery and teamwork in their action scenes together. Meanwhile (of course), Christine falls for our favourite stuntman crossed with bounty hunter. This possibly in case of Stockholm Syndrome which sets in inevitably just as you thought it would. So if you have nothing better to do, I urge you to check out this early 1980s TV role from Richard Burton with that unknown stuntman, who made Burton such a star.
Weeper Rating: 😦😦 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂🙂 🙂 🙂10
Bonus Trailer: Series 1 opening theme from Germany
The Fall Guy – Season 1 Intro HD, magermunson
Sixth Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon, No 6, 2020.
This post was added to A Shroud of Thoughts Sixth Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon. Other TV and film with this cast include Burton in Anne of The Thousand Days, Where Eagles Dare, The Medusa Touch and his blogathon. Lee Majors in Scrooged . Douglas Barr in Hotel, Fantasy Island and Murder She Wrote. Heather Thomas and practically all the cast appear in a The Love Boat episode. Markie Post starred in Hotel, Hart to Hart and Glitter (and also The Love Boat).