Dir: Philip DeGuere
In the late 1970s, the CBS channel and Universal pictures made a deal with Marvel comics and set about developing some of their most popular Superhero characters into TV show hits. The produced a hit with The Incredible Hulk, which you'd think would be the hardest to adapt but not with the other three projects; The Adventures of Spider-man, CaptainAmerica and 1978's Dr. Strange. Spider-man and Captain America were fairly awful and a far cry from their comic book roots but Philip DeGuere's adaptation of the character was pretty faithful. Stan Lee has said that out of all of the TV shows, Dr. Strange was the one that he had been most hand-on with, the one he liked the most and the one that hurt the most when it failed. The ratings weren't good and CBS never picked it up for series, although many people blame the time it aired as the real problem as it went up against Roots which was the number 1 show of the time. The origin story was also criticized as being a little dull and a bit slow, which was an annoying comment, considering the criticism for the other failed Marvel adaptations were that they lacked an origins story and the character development was rushed. A lot of money was poured into the project and the special effects were cutting edge for the time, especially for a television program. The script was rather well written and the plot was intelligent. It was like a comic book movie but intelligent, grown up and a decent thriller in its own right. It had the all the right levels of sci-fi, suspense, intrigue and mystery about it and the casting was fantastic. I thought Peter Hooten made a great Stephen Strange and Jessica Walter was brilliant as Morgan Le Fay, an evil sorceress from the fourth dimension, who plans to invade planet earth through mind control, possession and walking around half-naked. It features The Nameless One, who is a little bit like Dormammu in the 2016 adaption, in a scene that is incredibly similar when compared. Clyde Kusatsu played Wong, Strange's companion, and I can totally see him as being a classic and much loved TV character. It even stars John Mills! Watching it is like watching a TV show that should have happened, most pilot films aren't that great, it really is a mystery why it was never picked up and I wonder whether it would have been, had it of come to the screen before Spider-Man and Captain America. It is amazing that it took almost forty years for Dr. Strange to have been adapted once more and it doesn't surprise me that it was a success. You have Marvel fans who love Marvel character and then you have Marvel fans who actually read the comics. You then have producers with nothing but money in mind who have no idea what the fans want, what is popular and what to do with all these things they don't understand. Luckily it is now working, now that actual fans of the comics are making the films. I'm not sure if Philip DeGuere was always a comic fan or not but he understood the character, knew what it was that made it popular with its fans and made the most authentic version he could with limitations and the best he had available. Okay, so it isn't perfect, but I think this good pilot could have become a truly great TV series.