Thursday, June 11, 2009

Danger Theatre (1993) TV series

Danger Theatre was a half-hour comedy anthology series for television, produced by Universal Studios and originally aired on the American FOX network in 1993.

Each half-hour-long show (with two exceptions) comprised two comedy segments, each a spoof of a familiar action/anthology format. The style of the comedy was somewhat similar to that of films like Airplane! and TV shows like Police Squad!

Robert Vaughn, most familiar to audiences from his role on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., was the host for each episode, introducing to camera each fifteen-minute segment with mock earnestness. The jokes ranged from humorous or preposterous dialogue to visual gags and slapstick designed to poke fun at the serious dramatic formats being lampooned.

Danger Theatre only ran to seven episodes before cancellation, but was syndicated beyond the USA; successfully gaining an airing in the United Kingdom on the BBC in 1994.

The Searcher
One segment in each episode centred on a motorbike-riding, leather-clad hero called only “The Searcher", played by Diedrich Bader. A spoof of both the stereotypical motorbiking renegade from many classic movies and the “one man on a mission” format of series such as Knight Rider (and many others), this segment is perhaps the most commonly remembered element of the series.

The Searcher would always appear coming over the horizon on his motorcycle, with a dramatic backing chorus, narrating :
“Someone needs help, so they called me. That’s what I do. I help people in trouble.......They call me: The Searcher”.

A recurring visual gag would have the Searcher conclude a scene with a quizzical stare directly at camera, utter a thoughtful, “Hmmm..”, and would then suddenly be squashed by a bulldozer, falling object, or other variant of a falling grand piano. For the actual slapstick event, it would be highly obvious that a dummy was being used in the stunt.

The popularity of this segment led to two episodes ("Go Ahead Fry Me" and "An Old Friend For Dinner") being given over in their entirety to a 30-minute adventure for the Searcher.

Tropical Punch
The other segment of the show was called Tropical Punch; a send-up of Hawaii 5-0, with Adam West (of Batman fame) playing the lead role corresponding to Jack Lord’s on the original. Adam played the Inspector Clouseau-like Detective Morgan, a police detective with no clue what is really going on. This role is similar to the role he currently plays on Family Guy as the confused Mayor Adam West. Morgan only solves crimes because his partner McCormick, played by Billy Morrisette, does in fact know what is going on and saves his face constantly.

Season 1, Episode 4
Comes a Searcher
25 July 1993

Danger Theatre (1993) TV series
Adam West, Billy Morrissette, Diedrich Bader, Laurie Franks, Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, Ricky Harris, Robert Vaughn, Todd Field, Will MacMillan

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