Bad Ideas In Television: Captain NiceDecember 10, 2009
When I was about eight years old, in the mid-1970s, a cousin gave me a box of old comics. Most of these were Gold Key publications: Magnus, Robot Fighter and Star Trek were the big ones. But there was one weird comic in the mix: Captain Nice. Even then, I knew it was a lame concept, but then again, I liked Big Jim back then.
Decades later, I discovered that Captain Nice was an actual TV show, from 1967, a superhero spoof about a mild-mannered nerd with superpowers and an overbearing mom. Years after that, I finally saw the show, and realized Captain Nice was played by William Daniels. Daniels had three other major TV roles in his career (I won’t get into his diverse filmography). He was mean Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere, mean Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World … and he was the voice of KITT on Knight Rider. KITT wasn’t mean, but he was kind of prissy.
Before all that, he wore long undies and pretended to fly on Captain Nice.
It’s a terrible show, but you can see watching it that everyone involved knew what kind of crap they were making, and decided to just go with it. But I admire the actors involved for doing the best they could; as terrible as the material is, everyone puts in a solid effort. It wasn’t the actors’ fault. This was the era of the Adam West Batman series, so superheroes were being treated as comic characters, not comic characters. Wait, that’s confusing. “Comic” means different things, after all. Anyway …
There are a couple of decent scenes in the first episode, though. My favourite sequence shows Carlton Nash (Daniels) in a sewer, slowly and meticulously folding his Clark Kentish clothes as he changes into Captain Nice.
The show didn’t last, and it shouldn’t have, but it at least left us with one thing: That comic book cover, and that costume. I know what I’m wearing next Halloween.