Sep 11, 2012

The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Remember the cave where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher got lost in the classic Tom Sawyer?  In yet another 1960s rendition of the "boys trapped far from home" genre (others included H.R. Pufnstuf,   Land of the Lost, and Journey to the Beginning of Time), that cave led to a time-space warp that zapped  Tom  (Kevin Schultz), Becky Thatcher (LuAnn Haslam), and Huckleberry Finn (Michael Shea) into various worlds based on fiction, legends, and history.

After battling or befriending Aztecs, ancient Egyptians, mad scientists, Don Quixote, Indian thuggees, Captain Ahab, a medieval Caliph, cavemen, and wizards, it was another zap and another adventure.

Huck, who was only marginally literate, narrated the story, and made humorous malapropisms and mispronunciations.

The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn aired on Sunday nights in the fall of 1968, where it faced stiff competition from Land of the Giants.  Twenty episodes aired before it was cancelled.  I saw them as reruns during the summer of 1969.  Later they were syndicated in The Banana Splits and Friends.  

Tom and Becky are friends only, with no romantic inclinations.  But Tom and Huck have ample buddy-bonding, particularly when one or the other requires rescue.  And they require rescue a lot.


And though there were few shirtless shots, both of the boys, aged 15, were on display enough to attract the interest of teen magazines -- and of gay kids.  Michael Shea, the "hunk," wore a white shirt unbuttoned to his navel and a red vest, and was frequently tied up, so his muscles could strain against the ropes. Kevin Schultz, the "brain," wore a white shirt with a thin red tie and tight slacks.

The New Adventures turned out to be the summit of their acting careers.  In adulthood, Michael became a police officer.  Kevin and his identical twin Keith started a musical group in 1970, chummed around with fellow teen idol Jon Provost (below), and later became professional photographers.