Confessions of a TV Addict #1: It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… No, It’s CAPTAIN NICE (NBC-TV 1967)

Yes, that’s distinguished actor William Daniels in those long-johns as CAPTAIN NICE, which aired Monday nights on NBC-TV for eight months and fifteen episodes during the height of the superhero camp craze in 1967. Similar in theme to MISTER TERRIFIC on rival CBS, I preferred this one as a kid because of it’s MAD Magazine-level of jokes and gags – which ain’t a bad thing, in my book! The silly superhero series was created by Buck Henry, who also (along with pal Mel Brooks ) was responsible for another campy sitcom, the 60’s spy spoof GET SMART!

Mild -mannered chemist Carter Nash works for the Big Town Police Department, and invents a super-secret super-formula that transforms him into Captain Nice. His domineering mother (Alice Ghostley) sews him up a super-suit and tells him to go out and fight crime like a good boy. Carter’s got all the powers of Superman, except he’s a bit of a klutz and is scared of heights. Nevertheless, Captain Nice hitches up his britches and embarks on protecting Big Town from the rotten bad guys.

Meter Maid Candy Kane (Ann Prentiss), unlike Superman’s Lois Lane, prefers Carter’s intellect to the brawny Captain. Big Town’s Mayor Finney (Liam Dunn) and Police Chief Segal (Bill Zuckert) are a pair of bumbling politicians dependent on the good Captain to save their city on a weekly basis. Carter’s never seen or heard father, forever sitting in his easy chair with a newspaper covering his face, is none other than veteran movie milquetoast Byron Foulger.

Captain Nice battled a super-powered caterpillar that accidently drank some of his formula, a treacherous Sheik (Larry D. Mann), and other assorted no-goodniks. He even had his own arch-enemy of sorts, the mentalist Medula (played by veteran bad guy John Dehner), who appeared in two episodes. Comedian Bob Newhart even guested in an episode as a night club owner targeted by gangsters, who the Captain was assigned to protect.

Despite the efforts of sitcom directors Gene Nelson, Charles R. Rondeau, and Gene Reynolds (MASH), and a writing staff that included GET SMART vets Henry, Dave Ketchum, Stan Burns, and Arne Sultan, the show was destroyed in the ratings by another superpowerhouse, CBS’s THE LUCY SHOW, and beaten to a pulp by ABC’s THE RAT PATROL. CAPTAIN NICE doesn’t have much of a presence on YouTube, but is available on DVD online, or you can watch episodes at http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/captain-nice200367/. If you don’t take your superheroes too seriously, you’ll get a kick out of this slice of 60’s satirical camp! We’ll close things out here with the theme from CAPTAIN NICE. Maestro, if you please:

(Readers: do you have any obscure TV shows you’d like to see covered here? Please leave a comment and let me know!)

 

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