Captain America (1979)

On Friday night, January 19, 1979, a seven-year-old me sat down to watch this and promptly lost his mind.

There was supposedly a directive from CBS to not follow the comics exactly, which makes no sense, because the comics sell the show which sell the comics, but for some reason, no one figured that out yet.

So that’s how this version of Captain America is a legacy hero, even if they get the part about Steve Rogers being a commercial artist right. He’s almost killed by some spies who are trying to get the F.L.A.G. serum that his father invented and gave to himself to become the first Captain America. But all Steve wants to do is roam in his cool van because it’s 1979 and this Earth-CBS version of Cap is Nomad before he’s Cap.

He ends up being saved by the aforementioned F.L.A.G. formula, gets super-strength, a special motorcycle, a clear shield, a motocross-centric costume and the actual job of being the Sentinel of Liberty.

According to star Reb Brown at Comic-Con, CBS planned crossing over his character with Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond) and the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno/Bill Bixby). Seven-year-old me loves that.

Writer Don Ingalls once worked on the LAPD magazine The Beat, as well as scripting The Initiation of Sarah. Director Rod Holcomb has worked on all sorts of episodic TV, including The Six Million Dollar Man and The Greatest American Hero.

The reviews I’ve seen for this online are a mix of “look how far we’ve come” and “the idea of Captain America is capitalist nonsense.” First, this show is just fine. It’s strange to compare low budget TV movies made forty years ago to glossy multimillion films on so many levels. And Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America to represent the best of this country and what it could be, a character that two Jewish men created to make a stand for America entering World War II, that protest groups came to their offices to try and find them, that became a character of a man lost out of time and with no country, even fighting the Secret Empire the whole way to the White House, exposing Nixon as a supervillain — who killed himself off-panel! — and then traveled the nation as the aforementioned man with no country called Nomad. And this was no millenial story for social media clout. This was in 1974.

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