Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: A MAN CALLED SLOANE - "The Shangri-La Syndrome"

Well, we come at last to the final episode of A Man Called Sloane, "The Shangri-La Syndrome," directed by none other than T.R. Sloane himself, Robert Conrad.

I wish I could say that the series went out on a high note, but "Syndrome" is a rather lackluster affair.

Sloane is investigating the theft of some top secret material from Doctor Karla Meredith's (Daphne Reid) scientific institute. A meeting with one of her (young and pretty, 'natch) researchers is interrupted by an intruder whom Sloane pursues. By the time Sloane gets back, she is dead of apparent old age. It turns out that Meredith is working with KARTEL and an ex-Nazi named (of course) Hans Kruger (Dennis Cole) to clone a South American dictator.

There are some interesting concepts in here - Kruger is being kept young by an age-reversing formula and must stay in a hot environment to avoid reverting his to his true age - but nothing is done with them. There's only one gadget in this episode, and it's rather pedestrian, too.

It's a shame that the series came out when it did. NBC in 1979 was something of a creative wasteland, with network head Fred Silverman desperate to attract viewers to the floundering net. His approach to this was to program shows that were colorful, titillating, and, basically, stupid. This was the season of Supertrain, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, Hello Larry and Pink Lady & Jeff.

It's also unfortunate that the producers didn't bother to actually give Conrad a character to play. Sloane was Conrad, basically, and was never shown to have any personal life, nor was there any backstory ever revealed for the character. In the pilot film - where the character was played by Robert Logan - Sloane was established as an art and antiques dealer, which at least provided him with a cover for his international travel, and provided a little color. This appears to have been forgotten by the time of the actual series. The character of Torque was badly used as well. A giant with a multi-purpose cybernetic hand should have been a lot more useful and interesting than he actually was. I don't blame actor Ji-Tu Cumbuka, though. He simply wasn't given anything much to do, most of the time.

Anyway, it was fun re-visiting the series. One of these days, I'll get around to reviewing the pilot film, T.R. Sloane/Death Ray 2000.

1 comment:

Zokko said...

According to producer Gerald Sanford, 'A.M.C.S.' ended abruptly because of a dispute between Fred Silverman and Quinn Martin. He felt it would have lasted longer if it had been made by Universal/M.C.A. Conrad has dissed the show in interviews down the years, but the only really bad episode, as you pointed out, was the one he himself directed!

Thanks for your reviews.