THE THROWBACK MACHINE: Your random roundup of 1977 TV listings | return machine


I can’t remember exactly why I spent so much time scrolling through the Journal Gazette TV listings for January 29, 1977, but whatever the reason, I ended up cutting out not one, not two, but three items totally different. When I was there.

It’s the kind of mystery that could best be solved by the stars of the first article, the very short-lived, and almost completely lost in time, CBS TV-Drama (ahem) “The Andros Targets” represented in the newspaper by a photo of sons James Sutorius (presumably the titular “Andros”) and gal Friday Pamela Reed (hopefully not a “target” of said “Andros”).

From the limited information available, “The Andros Targets” was about an investigative reporter from a major metropolitan daily donning his trench coat, walking out of the smoky ’70s newsroom, no doubt flustered, notebook in hand, ready to shine the bright white of corruption journalism wherever it lurks by featuring it in its column. I can only assume the column is called “The Andros Targets”, a title which, it must be said, beats the heck out of “The Throwback Machine”. If only I had discovered this show sooner.

“Andros Targets” aired a grand total of 13 episodes before it was canceled, and let me tell you, when I say it’s “lost in time,” I mean it. In a time when just about every show, movie, or piece of music from the past is available on the Tricorder you carry with you all the time, “Andros” really seems to have slipped into the kind of nothingness I thought was reserved for those first episodes of Doctor Who recorded by the BBC.

A search of numerous “lost media” websites confirmed the same facts; that once canceled the show was last seen in reruns dubbed in Argentina and that the only two extant clips are the opening credits (dubbed from Argentinian TV) and a promo for the mandatory episode “jumped over goofs” where an actress overinjected by her Dr. Feelgood’s doctor yells “I feel like I’m full of snakes!” which scared me the same as that episode of MASH when Houlihan’s nurse friend had a case of DT in the mess tent and she saw “things” in her Salisbury steak.

It’s the kind of chilling mystery that’s perhaps best solved by another 13-episode wonder found in television programs of that day: “The Fantastic Journey,” premiering with its feature-length pilot episode.” Vortex” this Thursday, and featuring a family that navigates the Bermuda Triangle and upon encountering a “green cloud” find themselves stranded on a mysterious island where 23rd century refugee “Varian” informs them that the island is home to many displaced from the time stream who are presumably fighting amongst themselves. Although it is difficult to imagine what fight the corsairs of the 16th century could lead against the Atlanteans of the future.

“The Fantastic Journey” certainly hasn’t gone away, as it’s easily seen online. It looks quite fun. I’m a sucker for any show that tries to use a nearby brutalist art gallery or a domed conservatory to portray ‘the future’ simply by hanging up neon lights, having extras in jumpsuits talking to a brain in a jar, or having space ladies strutting around in high boots and miniskirts like “Liana,” played by actress Katie Saylor, who I happened to see there has years in the 1973 movie “Invasion of the Bee Girls” where she was apparently involved in the legendary “bee girl transformation sequence. I’d be forgiven for missing her, because she may have been cocooned in honey at the time.

Speaking of ’70s women who left an impression, we end with this photo of Susan Dey, featured in this week’s TV Movie premiere of ‘Keyless Cage’, which stars her as the teenage dew with the perfect face that’s after high school graduation, road trip goes awry when car breaks down, she accepts a ride from her friend’s creepy friend, gets involved in a robbery gone wrong and then finds herself thrown into the “San Marcos School for Girls” where, according to the diary entry, she (ahem), “discovers that her horrifying experience has only just begun”.

Sure, you fell in love with Susan Dey as she beat those 88s as Laurie Partridge; I only knew her from “LA Law” where those padded shoulders and substitute teacher hair made her look 45 when she was only 35 at the time. But once she put on that Laurie Partridge wig for the legendary Partridge vs. Bradys “Battle of the Bands” skit on Saturday Night Live… bro, I was in love too.

That’s probably why I remember listening to ‘Cage’ when it appeared on a local channel’s ‘TV movie for a rainy Saturday’ rerun and definitely blew me away with some robust ‘girl in prison” which, even in their watered-down form, I probably wasn’t ready for.

For while “Cage” lacks the harsh angle of attack as something like the similar “Born Innocent” of a few years earlier with Linda Blair, “Cage” achieves its modest goals; add some “see how the system fails for our young people” stuff to trick you into thinking you’re not looking at trash, then reveal you’re looking at trash as the fresh-faced prisoner gets bounced around various cliques of inmates getting each other all arguing for her like a trophy or trying to stab her, with the requisite escape plans and yard-wide riots thrown in on top of that, all topped off with an effective stoppage of an ending that leaves plenty of room to interpretation.

During that time, I never discovered exactly what I was looking for on January 29, 1977. That sounds exactly like a case for “The Walker Targets.”

“The Throwback Machine” is a weekly feature that looks back on items of interest found in JG-TC’s online archives. For questions, comments, suggestions or his “Song of the Day” recommendation, contact him at [email protected]

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