Thursday, March 24, 2011

TZ Promo: “The Prime Mover” (3/24/1961)

“The Prime Mover” (3/24/1961)
Season Two, Episode 21 (57 overall)
Cayuga Production # 173-3647

My favorite TV show when I was a kid (around 11 or 12) was The Greatest American Hero, and of that show, one of my favorite episodes involved our hero, average guy Ralph Hinkley, discovering that his alien supersuit imbibed him with (among his other powers) telekinetic abilities. Hilarity, as it usually did, ensued. Several decades earlier, another average guy on TV had similar powers. 50 years ago tonight, we met him for the first time.

No, it’s not Barnaby Jones. Well, it is… but this is Buddy Ebsen in his pre-Barnaby days. Here he’s Jimbo Cobb, a likeable (albeit simple) fellow who co-owns a diner with Ace Larsen, a restless sort who dreams of bigger things. Jimbo’s just fine with things as they are.

A horrific car accident (which is technically brilliant and has to be seen to be believed; it doesn’t look like stock footage, either) requires Jimbo to reveal an amazing talent: he can move things with his mind. Sonuvagun, simple ol’ Jimbo is a telekinetic! Ace’s eyes go wide, and visions of big money in Vegas dance seductively in his head. You can see where this is going.

Written by Charles Beaumont (from a story by George Clayton Johnson; uncredited) and directed by Richard L. Bare, “The Prime Mover” is a pretty enjoyable TZ excursion, thanks mostly to the clever interplay between the leads. Ebsen plays Jimbo as a big dumb lug, but by the end it’s apparent that he’s way brighter than he lets on. As Ace, Dane Clark is snappy and occasionally insensitive, but his affection for Jimbo is evident all the way through. Ebsen and Clark inhabit the roles nicely, and Beaumont provides some great dialogue for them.

TZ babe alert! The Vegas cigarette girl, who Ace “buys” for the evening (it’s not what it sounds like… or is it?), is smokin’ hot (cigarette pun intended), and is played by Jane Burgess. Arooogah!

Next week: Videotape rears its low-res head one final time. We’ll get up close and personal with an enchanted toy telephone and a possessive dead grandmother. Hear that ringing? It's for you.

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