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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Time, Change, and an Icon

The USS Enterprise from the original "Star Trek" series.

The USS Enterprise from the original “Star Trek” series.

From Andy Warhol to Flower Children, time has progressed and most of the real, tangible, and iconic elements of the 1960s are long gone. However, there were many elements of the 1960s that were purely fictitious in nature, and due to their unreality, they endure as symbols of the era. One such symbol of the 1960s is the fictional starship USS Enterprise as seen in the Star Trek television show. The radical design of the ship and its importance to the program lent an aura of power and nigh-invincibility to the vessel, one that garnered the attention of Americans from “Joe and Jane Average” to actual rocket scientists at NASA.  We are now 50 years past America’s introduction to Star Trek and the Enterprise, so the question of the ship’s relevance in popular culture arises.  In short, to the general public of today, is the name USS Enterprise still one that invokes an iconic image?

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Counting on Godzilla

Most of us have a favorite Godzilla movie from Japan, but did you know that there is more than one Godzilla? Yes, it’s true. Take a seat and let’s fly through the many iterations of Japan’s most famous movie monster.

In Japan, the term “Godzilla” is applied on-film to creatures that are of the same family as first seen in the original 1954 Godzilla movie. In fact, the name “Godzilla” is itself a Westernized version of the Japanese word “Gojira,” the name by which the monster is known in Japan. Regardless of the name, the original Big-G bites the dust at the end of the movie, so moviegoers were surprised when the monster appeared the following year in Godzilla Raids Again. An explained within the film, the two Godzillas are not the same creature, meaning that the second Godzilla (from Godzilla Raids Again) would be the Godzilla going forward on film until stated otherwise.

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Creature Featured

Promotional image featuring Julia Adams
and the Gill-Man.

There were three feature films in the 1950’s that featured the monster referred to as the “Gill-Man”, a thing better known as the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. In each film, the pursuit, capture and attempted destruction of the scaly sea-beast were the essential plot elements, and all three featured stereotypical 1950’s “cookie cutter” heroes of strength, nerves of steel and all the emotion of a trailer hitch. The actors were Richard Carlson, John Agar and Rex Reason – different men with equally different backgrounds, yet all forever linked by the enduring images of their sci-fi/horror movies, and especially linked by their association with the Gill-Man, the last of Universal Studios’ classic movie monsters.

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