The Green Hornet (TV series): Wikis

  

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The Green Hornet
Greenhornet.jpg
Van Williams as the Green Hornet in the 1960s TV series.
Genre Action-Adventure
Created by George W. Trendle
and Fran Striker
Directed by William Beaudine
Leslie H. Martinson
Larry Peerce
Allen Reisner
Seymour Robbie
Starring Van Williams (Green Hornet)
Bruce Lee (Kato)
Walter Brooke
Lloyd Gough
Wende Wagner
Narrated by William Dozier
Opening theme "Flight of the Bumblebee"
composed by
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,
arranged by
Billy May,
conducted by
Lionel Newman,
performed by
Al Hirt
Composer(s) Billy May
(background score)
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) William Dozier
Producer(s) Richard M. Bluel (23 episodes)
Stanley Shpetner (2 episodes)
Editor(s) Fred R. Feitshans Jr.
Running time 30 min.
Production company(s) Greenway Productions
20th Century-Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Color
Original run September 9, 1966 – March 17, 1967

The Green Hornet was a television show on the ABC US television network. It aired for the 1966–1967 TV season, and starred Van Williams as the Green Hornet/Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato.

Despite George W. Trendle's efforts to generate interest in a "Green Hornet" TV series in 1951 (and again in 1958) without success, it finally took another producer in a different decade to do so...due in part to another serial and comic book icon. Inspired by the success of the Batman series, ABC brought The Green Hornet to television in 1966-67, an adaptation which introduced martial artist Bruce Lee to American audiences as Kato and starred Van Williams as the Green Hornet. Unlike Batman, the TV version of The Green Hornet was played straight, but in spite of the considerable interest in Lee, it was cancelled after only one season. However, the rise of Lee as a major movie star ensured continued interest in the property to the point where proposed Green Hornet productions typically have the casting of some major martial arts film star as Kato as the first order of business. Lee's popularity in Hong Kong, where he was raised, was such that the show was marketed there as The Kato Show.[1] The Green Hornet and Kato also made appearances on Batman.[2]

Contents

Episodes

Differences from the radio version

As with the later years of the radio version, secretary Lenore "Casey" Case is again aware of Reid's secret, and the Hornet also has a confidante within the law enforcement community, but now he is District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon. This character was changed from the original's police commissioner because the same companies' Batman TV series was already using a man in that post as the official contact of its hero. William Dozier, executive producer of both programs, wanted no more comparisons between the two than were unavoidable. Michael Axford, the bodyguard turned reporter of the radio series, is now simply the police reporter for The Daily Sentinel, with no history of having been on the force.

Theme music

The music of "Flight of the Bumblebee" was so strongly identified with The Green Hornet that it was retained as the theme, rearranged by Billy May (who also composed the new background scores) and conducted by Lionel Newman, with trumpet solo by Al Hirt, in a jazz style nicknamed Green Bee. Years later, this music was featured during a key scene in the 2003 film, Kill Bill, Vol. 1, which paid tribute to Kato by featuring dozens of swordfighters wearing Kato masks during the film's key fight sequence. Each episode begins with the following monologue (narrated by William Dozier):

"Another challenge for the Green Hornet, his aide Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty. On police records a wanted criminal, the Green Hornet is really Britt Reid, owner and publisher of The Daily Sentinel; his dual identity known only to his secretary, and to the district attorney. And now, to protect the rights and lives of decent citizens, rides the Green Hornet!"

The Black Beauty

The TV series displayed the Hornet's car, Black Beauty, a 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial sedan customized by Dean Jeffries.[3] The Beauty's regular headlight cluster supposedly could be flipped over to reveal what studio publicity described as "infra-green" headlights. However, the car's headlights were not actually rigged to flip, so the green filters were seen deployed constantly. It was revealed in the related Gold Key comic book spun off from the show that the green headlights used polarized light which in combination with the appropriately polarized vision filter (translucent green sun visor-like panels that could be pulled down when needed) could provide almost as much illumination as conventional headlights while being extremely dim – almost invisibly dark – to someone without the filter. In some early episodes in two-shots with both Van Williams and Bruce Lee inside the Black Beauty, as seen through the windshield, Lee's face was tinted green since he was supposedly seen through a "polarized" filter in the form of a large pull-down, transparent green-gray visor; Williams on the other hand was seen in normal light. The tint is not present in close-ups of Lee alone. Since specification of what this lighting was supposed to indicate never actually made it into any finished episode, the effect was unexplained to the audience and soon discontinued. However, most night shots were actually filmed during the daytime by the day for night technique, giving the illusion of night-time as the actual car headlights were not polarized but just had green lenses, which would render the headlights useless for real night-driving. As the series progressed, the process was executed less effectively, reaching the point where the viewer would need context to understand that some scenes were supposed to be taking place at night, as can be observed in screening the episodes in either original network airing or syndication (production) order.

The Black Beauty could fire explosive charges from tubes hidden behind retractable panels below the headlights which were said to be rockets with explosive warheads; had a concealed-when-not-in-use, drop-down knock-out gas nozzle in the center of the front grille and the vehicle could launch a small flying video/audio surveillance device (referred to as the scanner) through a small rectangular panel in the middle of the trunk lid. Working "rockets" and "gas nozzles" were incorporated into the trunk lid as well.

In 1992, Green Hornet enthusiast Dan Goodman, purchased the "number one" Black Beauty from the former transportation director of Twentieth Century Fox for the sum of US $10000 and commissioned Jeffries to restore it; two cars had been built for the series and Goodman's was the primary car. Although the vehicle was in perfect mechanical condition with the original custom wheels and most body modifications as used in the show and had logged only 17,000 miles (approximately 27,350 km) since new, it was badly weathered. Despite numerous legal bouts between Jeffries and Goodman over cost overruns and rights to the "Black Beauty" name and likeness, Jeffries eventually restored the car to its current condition albeit series incorrect. While the rocket launcher panels on the trunk lid had been welded shut, requiring replacement of the body panel in order to make the system functional again, the flip-down green headlights were intact less their drive motor and discovered beneath the hood after Goodman took delivery. The Black Beauty is part of the Petersen Automotive Museum collection; the "Number Two" Black Beauty is currently under restoration to be completed in 2009. It resides in a private collection in South Carolina.

The TV series employed an audio device from the radio show. In its era, the engines of cheaper cars made a lot of noise; the expensive Pierce-Arrow was reputed to be extremely quiet. So, when the Green Hornet said, "rig for silent running," the hornet-like buzz on the radio show was turned off and the listener was left to imagine that the car really was silent. On TV, the car sounded like a modern car, but the noise was removed from the soundtrack after this command.

(An article in TV Guide published during the show's network run made reference to disparaging comments made within the industry about ABC being "the two-car network" because of the Black Beauty and the Batmobile.)

There was one other technological update: the Hornet carried a telescoping device called the Hornet's Sting, which projected ultrasonic soundwaves. He most frequently used it to open locked doors, although he was also seen using it to set things on fire (presumably by vibrating them and causing friction heat) and to threaten criminals to get information. In "The Secret of the Sally Belle" the Hornet actually shot a thug with it, resulting in his being hospitalized.

Notes

  1. ^ "Bruce Lee: 30th Anniversary Boxset". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2003/07/14/bruce_lee_30_anniversary_dvd_review.shtml. Retrieved 2010-01-11.  
  2. ^ "Bruce Lee Biography". Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/articles/Bruce-Lee-9542095. Retrieved 2010-01-11.  
  3. ^ Van Hise, James, The Green Hornet Book, Schuster and Schuster Inc., 1988, p. 24 (this chapter describes a conversation with Dean Jeffries).

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