Some shows are “forgotten classics” (it says so right in the sub-heading of this blog!). And other forgotten shows are not classics, not good, not even adequate, but nonetheless perfectly sum up the TV culture of their time in a way that actual classics do not. Such a show is Homer Simpson’s favourite program, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo.
This was one of roughly ninety-five zillion shows created in the late ’70s and early ’80s by Glen A. Larson, the master of creating entertainment that a) is indirectly based on whatever movie was popular last year and b) lowers your I.Q. by several dozen points. He created, among other shows: Quincy M.E., Buck Rogers, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I. (though that one wasn’t dumb, mostly because Larson didn’t run it) and of course, Manimal. Two of his shows have been remade recently — Knight Rider and Battlestar Galactica — so he had some good ideas, he just executed all his ideas with unfailing aim at the lowest common denominator. Anyway, in 1978-9 he created a show called B.J. and the Bear starring Greg Evigan as a trucker who gets in lots of chases and has a monkey sidekick; it was based on the success of two recent redneck comedies, Smokey and the Bandit and Every Which Way But Loose. Then when The Dukes of Hazzard became a success at the same time, it was decided to spin Evigan’s adversary, Sheriff Lobo (Claude Akins) off into his own show; Lobo became sheriff of Orly (“Don’t Call It Hazzard”) County and got into lots of car chases with his inept sidekick Perkins (Mills Watson). Lobo, who had been a corrupt sheriff in B.J., suddenly became a good guy, albeit an incompetent one.
And so you had a show that became a running joke on shows like The Simpsons because it represented everything that Teevee was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Car crashes. Cornball comedy. Gratuitous T&A (a Larson trademark). Still more car crashes. And a theme song, written by Larson, that you can’t get out of your head though you desperately want to. The late ’70s was the era of “jiggle” and undemanding action, because it was an era when every network was trying to outdo the other in attracting young male viewers, unlike today, when… oh, wait.
Oh, and in the second season the network completely retooled it, moved the show to Atlanta, and added Nell Carter as Lobo’s co-star. Can’t get more 1980 than that.
Theme song, sung by Frankie Laine. By the way, was this one of the earliest shows to use the now-common practice of putting the title at the end of the main title sequence, instead of the beginning?
In this next clip, Dean Martin guest stars as himself in an excerpt from the series’ second episode. He doesn’t get involved in any car chases, though, at least not in this particular clip.
This next episode was posted with an annoying watermark in the middle, but it’s not like this show had a lot of artistic integrity that could be compromised by ruining its brilliant screen compositions. This is the first part; the rest of the episode is on YouTube under the title, I swear, “Panhandle Pussycats.”