Sunday, October 30, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: The Original Dr. Strange!

Marvel Studios' big budget Doctor Strange hits theaters stateside later this week, so for this week's Nostalgia Theater I wanted to look back at the previous try at turning the comic book Sorcerer Supreme into a mainstream hit. That attempt didn't fare quite so well. The time was the late '70s, and after CBS and Universal found quick success with their live-action Incredible Hulk TV series in 1977, they quickly went into the Marvel coffers to see what other superheroes could be translated to the small screen. What they arrived at was Stan Lee & Steve Ditko's creation Dr. Strange:


While this might have seemed an odd choice to bring to TV, given how well-received the Hulk was, it's actually not so strange that they chose Strange. Produced as a TV movie/backdoor pilot, Dr. Strange followed the same approach as The Incredible Hulk. Writer/producer Philip DeGuere's script jettisons the comic book backstory in favor of something more grounded and "made-for-TV." That's Peter Hooten as Stephen Strange, changed from the comics' arrogant surgeon brought low into a caring, down-to-Earth psychiatrist. Kind of a big switch.

In the pilot, Strange is drawn into the world of magic and sorcery thanks to a birthright he didn't know about, and after doing battle with the evil Morgan Le Fay (Arrested Development's Jessica Walter), the doc takes the reins from the mysterious Thomas Lindmer (John Mills) -- a play on "Merlin" -- to become Earth's mightiest magician. The truth is, TV's Dr. Strange isn't terrible, it's just very, very average. And audiences agreed. Airing in September of '78, ratings didn't warrant returning to the well, and that would be it for the character in live action until just now. Let's hope it was worth the wait!

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: James Bond Jr. Flunks Out

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: One of the All-Time Greats

Three Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Secret Force of Pole Position

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: James Bond Jr. Will Not Return

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