Archive for May, 2015

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THE FORGOTTEN WIZARD

May 9, 2015

I think at one point or another, we get fascinated with wizards. For some it’s Gandalf, others prefer Harry Potter and his Hogwarts friends, while others dig on Oz or the legendary Merlin. Lately, though, my attentions have turned to one Simon McKay. A wizard we can all admire.

What’s that? Who’s Simon McKay? Okay, maybe the name doesn’t cry out WIZARD, but McKay is, in fact THE WIZARD, the central character in a series that aired on CBS in 1986, for a too brief 19 episode run. The story is easy enough to explain. McKay, played beautifully by David Rappaport, is a diminutive genius weapons technology designer, who decided to leave his government job to focus his creative genius on making amazing toys that he hopes will preserve the joy and innocence of youth.

The government, however, is worried that America’s enemies, and homegrown profiteers will either harm or kidnap McKay for their evil ends. Enter Alex Jagger, played by Doug Barr. Jagger is assigned to watch and protect McKay at all times. Jagger becomes McKay’s housemate, and soon enters the realm of McKay’s genius.

Now, as you may have guessed, this is no LAW AND ORDER, CSI, or CRIMINAL MINDS, gritty action drama. On the contrary, THE WIZARD centers itself on missions of humanitarianism, as evidenced in the pilot episode, which not only gives us an idea of what McKay can do, but, also his noble and generous spirit. In this episode, McKay meets Bryan, a young boy in a fight for his life with leukemia. If Bryan doesn’t get a bone marrow transplant, and quickly, the leukemia will claim him. Knowing this, McKay grants Bryan the wish he made through the worthy Starlight Foundation to meet him. McKay, upon meeting Bryan tells the boy how special it makes him feel to know that of all things Bryan could ask for, all he wanted was to meet McKay.

But McKay doesn’t end it there with Bryan. He lets Bryan explore his open basement work area, to try different things, then ups the ante by taking Bryan into the secret workshop for some alone time together. There, Bryan and McKay talk about their unique challenges. We learn, along with Bryan, that McKay doesn’t dwell on his height, because the size of one’s heart is more important. In this day and age of focusing on the superficial exterior, we need reminding of this more than ever.

Bryan isn’t naive, though, he knows the clock is ticking on him, and he doubts he’ll be around much longer. Here we learn McKay’s two most important philosophies: Never give up, and Everything’s Possible. I can’t think of a simpler, or more beautiful definition of what faith means. Again, it’s a message that we still need to hear. To prove his point, McKay lets Bryan try out his new take on a remote controlled helicopter. No levers or joystick, just a pilot helmet with an antenna that transmits Bryan’ s thoughts of flight to the helicopter. The joy on Bryan’s face says it all, once he makes it work. McKay puts the icing on the cake when he refers to Bryan and himself as the Wright Brothers, since nobody else will ever be the first to fly a toy helicopter this way.

Upon learning that Bryan’s lost older brother is a suitable donor to save Bryan, McKay and Jagger go off to find him. I won’t say more, as to do so would reveal spoilers. I would like to tell you how much I loved THE WIZARD. This was appointment television for my family and me while and when it was on. We always wondered how McKay would use his gifts to save the day, and it was always a fun surprise.

So what happened that caused THE WIZARD to disappear? My research told me that 20th Century Foxwas pulling funding from many of its big three network shows to fund its new network, which meant THE WIZARD had to go. Research also revealed that CBS helped Fox by changing THE WIZARD’S timeslot at will, just so they could preempt it and drive the numbers down, and spin it as low ratings to cancel it. The episodes are now in Fox’s vault, and there they remain.

I never talked much about THE WIZARD until recently,when I found episodes on YouTube, which was followed by the discovery of thewizardtvfansite.com, which is the officially sanctioned website for WIZARD fans. It us there that I learned of an ongoing campaign for a DVD release with suggestions on how best to help accomplish this. There is also a RESCUE THE WIZARD Facebook page established by the fan site’s webmaster, which I have joined.

Now my readers, New and old, I am here to try to fulfill a promise I made on that Facebook page. Simon McKay always believed that everyone was capable of doing something to help. I promised that I would write about THE WIZARD, which I have done. I also promised that I would encourage my readers to help RESCUE THE WIZARD, by visiting the fan site for instructions and joining the Facebook page, which I am now doing. So, my readers, if you loved and remember THE WIZARD, Come join us and help us get this wonderful, quality show on DVD, where it most certainly belongs, and always remember….EVERYTHING’S POSSIBLE!

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