The Common Denominator

A PieceThe following is a riddle. There were three different TV and film presentations shown between 1967 and 1977 that shared one thing in common. Two of the presentations are from the iconic Batman and Star Trek series of the 1960s, while the final one formed the third entry of a disconnected three-film series from the 1970s. See if you can guess their common denominator before I reveal the answer at the end of this article.

In 1967, one of the Batman TV show’s most iconic episodes first aired. In it, the Dynamic Duo (Adam West and Burt Ward) met the Green Hornet and Kato (Van Williams and Bruce Lee) for the first time in series canon, but the second time overall. The pairs first met in one of Batman’s iconic wall climbing scenes in which the Green Hornet and Kato made a cameo appearance, but that meeting was not recognized in later episodes.

In the following year, the original Star Trek series aired one of its most memorable episodes. In it, Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) found themselves at wit’s end on a planet where the populace imitated 1920s gangland Chicago. The episode featured actors Vic Tayback and Anthony Caruso, and every scene was well-chewed by all performers in a giddy display of sheer escapism. Humorously, it was shown that Captain Kirk–a man able to handle a complex spacecraft–was absolutely incapable of operating a car equipped with a manual transmission.

Nine years later, another famous team appeared in their final cinematic team-up (as of this writing). One of the actors was Sidney Poitier, one of the great cinematic groundbreakers of the 1950s and 1960s. The other performer was Bill Cosby. Returning to the universally celebrated and free-of-accusations Mr. Poitier, he remains a world-renowned actor, film director, author, and diplomat. He previously teamed with his co-star in the comedies Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let’s Do It Again (1975), with those two films standing as the first two of a three-film series. In the duo’s third and final comedic film, they played a pair of thieves caught between the authorities and the underworld, with school children complicating their efforts.

Time’s up! Have you figured out the common denominator? All of the unnamed productions above share the same name: “A Piece of the Action.”

All the best,
-Keith V.


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