The Checklist: The Fall Guy (S2 Ep7) “A Piece of Cake”
What happens when Hollywood just isn’t paying enough, and your skillset consists of daredevil stunts and taking your fair share of lumps? You parlay that into a career as a bounty hunter! In this edition of The Checklist, I get to revisit an 80’s television favorite, as we cover an episode of The Fall Guy!
For those unfamiliar with the series or its premise, The Fall Guy starred Lee Majors as Colt Seavers, one of the most respected stuntmen in the movie biz. Unfortunately for Colt, stunt work just isn’t paying the bills, so he takes a side gig as a bounty hunter to earn some extra pay. Seems like Hollywood wasn’t interested in dishing out six million dollar paydays at this stage of the game. With a crew consisting of his immature cousin Howie (Douglas Barr) and fellow stunt performer Jody Banks (legendary eye candy Heather Thomas), Colt would seek out all sorts of characters over the course of five seasons, usually finding himself in over his head during his pursuits. Since every episode was a new adventure, the show was extremely easy to follow, and that’s why I’ve gone the random episode route for The Checklist. Let’s take a look at Season 2, Episode 7, entitled “A Piece of Cake”…
1. It’s an action TV show from the 80’s, it has to have a memorable theme song, right?
“Unknown Stuntman” is not only a memorable theme song, but it’s one of the rare instances where the star of the show sang his own theme! Yes, Majors lent his vocals to the opening track, a catching little country rock ditty (and this is coming from someone who hates country music) that brags about his Hollywood exploits and namedrops stars like Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, and Farrah Fawcett (Majors’ wife at the time). Watch an episode or two of the series and I guarantee you’ll be humming it everywhere from the office to the car. 1/1
2. OK, he’s a Hollywood stuntman and refers to a handful of celebrities in the theme song. Are there any famous and notable guest stars?
While this episode doesn’t feature any A-listers, there are a couple of recognizable actors gracing us with their presence. Terry Kiser, perhaps best known for being everybody’s favorite dead guy Bernie Lomax in the hit comedy Weekend At Bernie’s, plays Colt’s foil, mobster Nick Trainer. Dick O’Neill, a character actor best known for playing a cop on everything from Barney Miller to Family Matters, is here as Finley, a police captain desperate to put Trainer behind bars, even if it means having to extort some help from Seavers. While the names might not instantly ring any bells, their faces surely will, so I’ll mark this one down as a yes. 2/2
3. Does anything happen in this episode that might not fly in today’s society?
Colt uses his target, Swifty, who is a little person, as a weapon. He actually picks him up and swings him at mobsters, and uses him as a battering ram. I’m pretty sure that someone would find that offensive and demeaning of little people. We also get Howie playing an over the top stereotypically gay interior decorator when he goes undercover to infiltrate Trainer’s apartment. In today’s overwhelmingly PC world, both of those bits would likely never see air if it was conceptualized for a modern TV show. 3/3
4. Does Heather Thomas use her feminine charms as a distraction?
Sadly, no. When Colt realizes he’s going to need some help, he makes the call to have Howie come out to New York. Why not Jody? Did she have a work commitment? Was she taking a few days off? The world may never know. Aside from a brief appearance in the beginning of the episode, the only other time we see Jody is during the opening credits, where she shows herself off in a blue bikini. That one shot is probably what caused The Fall Guy intro to become the most watched TV intro of all time among males 13-35. OK, I made that stat up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was truth to it. Heather Thomas was a hottie. 3/4
5. Does Colt’s stuntman training help to save the day?
The final showdown between Seavers and Trainer is a fist fight in a moving car, and even when Colt is thrown from it, it’s a minor bump into a pile of dirt. The biggest example of using his background to battle the bad guys is when he has Howie leap from the balcony of Trainer’s penthouse into a safety mat that Colt gets into place just in time. There’s also a car chase and an exploding warehouse, as well as a brawl with some mob goons. Even though he hates it when things get difficult for him, Colt shows that the “Unknown Stuntman” is a man you don’t want to cross. 4/5
Final Score =4/5 (80%) The first episode of The Fall Guy reviewed here is heavy on the action, but lacking in the gorgeous ladies department. “A Piece of Cake” is an entertaining episode, and the performances of guest stars Kiser and O’Neill make the story even better. Check it out, along with a lot of other episodes, on Youtube while you can!