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Ep. 6: Ben and Johnny spill unstable molecules on Sue’s good tablecloth.
June 25, 2014 10:20 AM   Subscribe

The greatest TV show never seen: "The Fantastic Four" (1963-64)
posted by Faint of Butt (25 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not gonna lie - I was almost convinced for a good five minutes.

(the first thing was, of course, The Thing's costume. Too costly and laborious for TV at the time. Also all the actors are "names" not one-offs you've never heard of... Then the episode titles where all call backs to old , iconic TV episodes. Plus I'm 90% sure I saw everything Montgomery was ever in and never heard of this sooooo)

Still, what a labor of love.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Damn I got all excited but I'd recognize those Corman costumes anywhere.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


> the first thing was, of course

I was about to complain about the typography in the screen shots. Totally wrong. These details matter!
posted by ardgedee at 10:28 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Still, what a labor of love.

Indeed. The person who created this has a large chunk of my soul. But I feel like we've been sharing it already.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:28 AM on June 25


You know, a Fantastic Four series set in the 60s is not a baaaaad ideeeeeeaaaa
posted by The Whelk at 10:29 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


Fantastic Four? More like Amazing Four!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:35 AM on June 25


I am way, way too gullible. I was all, "They did the makeup for the Thing's face completely wrong, the shading makes it look like his face was photoshopped on!"
posted by mittens at 10:39 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, the Professor!
posted by jonmc at 10:41 AM on June 25


Featuring: Paul Lynde as the “Impossible Man”.

That is such perfect casting that I will forever here that voice every time I see the character.
posted by jeribus at 10:44 AM on June 25 [8 favorites]


Samantha Stevens in spandex? Oh, hells, yes.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:45 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I would watch every single one of these episodes. TWICE.

Reminds me of our project where we invented Mad Men's Ken Cosgrove's entire sci-fi literary career

posted by The Whelk at 10:49 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


[slow clap]
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:06 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I wish this existed but yeah I came in to say what everyone else did about the costumes and typography. Also, William Demarest is completely wrong. Needs someone a bit closer to their age and a lot healthier. I'd have gone with character actor Simon Oakland (this would have been about the time he did "The Rip Van Winkle Caper" on The Twilight Zone.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:07 AM on June 25


That is such perfect casting that I will forever here that voice every time I see the character.

I'm feeling the same way looking at the picture of Russell Johnson and Elizabeth Montgomery as Reed and Sue. In fact, I think that's what gave it away...as casting choices, they're too perfect.

I mean come on. George Reeves was Superman.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:14 AM on June 25


I can't read one of these without thinking of my introduction to the genre, Furnitures the Great Brown Oaf.
posted by JHarris at 12:06 PM on June 25


Damn I got all excited but I'd recognize those Corman costumes anywhere.


Me too; is it wrong that I've watched the Corman version enough times that that's the giveaway? If so, I don't want to be right.

Also:

Samantha Stevens in spandex? Oh, hells, yes.


So. Say. We. All.
posted by mgrichmond at 12:14 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Samantha Stevens in spandex? Oh, hells, yes.

Speaking of The Twilight Zone definitely watch the episode titled "Two" (it's on Netflix). Not spandex at all, more a grubby military uniform with an incongrous pleated skirt, but still a don't-miss for Elizabeth Montgomery fans. Also there's a scene which is just cake and ice cream for fans of retro propaganda design.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:49 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Special Guest Star: Fabian, as Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner? Written by George Clayton Johnson, co-author of the novel Logan's Run? Yes, please. This whole thing is full of gems: an episode titled "Freak Out and Flame On!" has these credits: Writer: Harlan Ellison; Director: Bob Rafelson (as Robert Rafelson); Featuring: Bob Denver as “Captain Yowza”. And: Fin Fang Foom was shown only once, in a shot seen on the Baxter Building's telescreen. The effect was achieved with stop-motion animation. Plus the sketchy Philip K. Dick rumors throughout are perfection.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:04 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Samantha Stevens in spandex? Oh, hells, yes

If anyone needs me, I'll be in my bunk.
posted by briank at 1:09 PM on June 25


More hair splitting... Episode 5, "Freak Out and Flame On" is completely anachronistic. "Freak Out" only appeared in 1966, the title of a Mothers of Inventions album. And twennysomethings of the Kennedy era (and immediately after) might be "hip", but they were beatniks, not hippies. Hippies and the moral panic around them postdate the purported production of the series by 2-3 years.

For certain people (or, I guess, people of a certain age), flails like this make it hard to read.
posted by ardgedee at 1:28 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Still, what a labor of love.

You don't know the half of it!

I'm not sure why he picks on William Frye particularly, but Frye did produce a series called Thriller (hosted by Boris Karloff) which I vaguely remember, and the Airport sequels, which I definitely remember, among other things.

I also remember the Hatemonger from early ishes of FF.
Kyle Johnson, the young black actor cast as the boy . . .
Is a real person, was a real child actor, and is the son of Nichelle Nichols.
The 9 existing episodes of The Fantastic Four were seen . . . at Midwestcon 21 in Cincinnati . . . summer of 1970.
Which was a real thing, and of course, andy offutt was there.

There are some anachronisms here and there, but by and large this is pretty spot-on alternate history. I'm enjoying the exercise. It's like listening to a Firesign Theatre album, trying to catch all the obscure references. S'fun.

I feel like I should 'get' why Philip K Dick claimed to have written the Galaactus episodes and 'also actually created key aspects of Galactus’s costume, including his helmet, as well as the concept of Galactus as a “Devourer of Worlds”' -- unless it's simply that PKD is one of the most plagiarized authors of the 20th century.
The episode concludes with Galactus casting his shadow over the earth, but we never see actually see him. . . . a grip wearing Galactus’ distinctive headgear stood, arms akimbo, as his shadow was cast over a model New York cityscape
I wish this was true so i could've seen it!

Finally: I'd forgotten what a -- distracting cupid's bow Liz MontG had. She's in Brigitte Bardot / Michelle Phillips territory there.

Thanks!
 
posted by Herodios at 1:43 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


More hair splitting... Episode 5, "Freak Out and Flame On" is completely anachronistic. "Freak Out" only appeared in 1966, the title of a Mothers of Inventions album.

This is actually a close case. Owsley Stanley had already "dropped out to become a designer of illicit drugs" by early 1965. So maybe in this alternate reality, hippie happened a year or two earlier (and on the East coast instead of they West). "Captain Yowza" is almost an anagram of Captain Trips and Owsley.

And it's not true that the term 'freak out' first appeared with the title of the Mothers album. There were people in LA at the time of its release that felt Zappa had expropriated the term from the self-identified freak community, which pre-dated Zappa's arrival in LA, much less the Mothers' first album. See also Vito Pauleskas, Carl Franzoni.

And of course, there's an echo here of Harlan Elison's notorious "Scotty dealing drugs" version of the "City on The Edge of Forever" script.

I'd spot 'em a mulligan for a few months worth of history for this, just as I do when Patrick O'Brien has Aubrey and Maturin meet people who should be dead or refer to events that shouldn't have occured yet.

= = =

That Fin Fang Foom looks an awful lot like Reptilicus.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:12 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


Sterling Holloway as the Puppet Master is an entirely brilliant piece of casting. It's pretty awesome when the only thing a project like this gets wrong are the title cards.
posted by Spatch at 3:51 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Also Uncle Charlie as the Thing? I guess William Bendix woulda been too obvious (or he might've actually refused) but both those guys too old to play Ben Grimm in '63. I'd go for Ben Gazzera. + Burgess Meridith great choice for the Mole Man!
posted by Rash at 8:26 PM on June 26


Yeah, there are some anachronisms and inconsistencies, and William Demarest does seem wrong for the Thing, if for no other reason than that he and Mr. Fantastic are supposed to be about the same age.

But Russell Johnson and Elizabeth Montgomery as Reed Richards and Sue Storm? Genius! And the site overall is cleverly executed and fun, so this gets a "thumbs up" and/or +1 from me.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:45 PM on June 26


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