Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nostalgia Theater: TV's Cobra Gets Snakebit

Michael Dudikoff and his Cobra
A few weeks ago I posted about the hilariously dated Renegade and Pointman, syndicated action shows from the '90s that feel like these weird fragments of a forgotten era, unstuck in time. Continuing in that vein I figured I'd dig up another artifact that I'd say has fallen down the memory hole, but that assumes it was ever in your memory to begin with, which I'm fairly certain isn't the case. I'm talking about Cobra. No, not the God awful Sylvester Stallone movie. I mean a strange little thing that aired in syndication from 1993 to '94.

Created by TV legend Stephen J. Cannell, and Craig Van Sickle & Steven Long Mitchell, Cobra was like something off the "syndicated '90s action" assembly line. It starred American Ninja leading man Michael Dudikoff as Robert "Scandal" Jackson, a tough-as-nails ex-Navy SEAL enlisted into Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to -- wait, that's not right. Let me check that again. Whoops, what I meant was, per Wikipedia, it's "an undercover anti-crime agency that provides justice for victims who haven't benefited from the system."

Here's the intro:

Man, dig that crazy synth music! (The show's distinctive electronic score was provided by Canadian rock band Saga, by the way.) Anyway, every week "Scandal" is given a new assignment by long-suffering bureau chief Dallas Cassell ('80s movie fixture James Tolkan of Back to the Future and Top Gun and Masters of the Universe), which he sets about solving alongside partner Danielle LaPoint (Allison Hossack) in his souped-up...yep, you guess it, Ford Cobra. Convenient, that. It's all very riveting, I assure you.

Of course, given Dudikoff's long association with the terminally terrible American Ninja movies from Cannon Films (he headlined three entries from 1985 to 1990), there was naturally a lot of low-rent chopsocky woven into the show that the actor got to engage in as well. Honestly, there's nothing especially bad about Cobra, it's just entirely forgettable, and "forget" is exactly what people did. I can't speak for scheduling in other parts of the country, but in Chicago it usually aired around noon on Saturdays. You know, peak TV-watching time.

Cobra quietly went away after twenty-two episodes, but Van Sickle & Mitchell would create The Pretender for NBC a few years later, and Cannell stayed productive right up until his death a few years ago. Dudikoff, meanwhile, got right back to the low-budget schlock that had been his bread-and-butter. Cobra came out on DVD a few years ago and quickly fell out of print. In case you're wondering, yes, I have a copy, and no, I've never opened it. And given the prices a new copy is now going for, it's looking like I never will. Check out the pilot below:

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Boomtown -- The Best Cop Show You've Never Seen

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Terminator 2 Action Figures -- He's Back!

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: In Praise of Bionic Six

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