Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Might've Been: Voyagers! (1982)

NBC was looking for something to fill the gaping void in their Sunday schedule, created when they had dropped The Wonderful World of Disney (nee Disney's Wonderful World) in 1981. They seemed to find a real winner that would appeal to kids and parents alike, as the Disney shows did, but it just wasn't meant to be.

Voyagers! was a spiritual successor to Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel, which had been cancelled 15 years earlier. It was also the first primetime series to be produced by the television arm of children's book publisher Scholastic, in conjunction with Universal. Jeffrey Jones (Meeno Peluce, ex-The Bad News Bears) might never be mistaken for Mr. Peabody's sidekick, Sherman, only because he was already well versed in history (his uncle was a history professor), though Phineas Bogg (Jon-Erik Hexum) could've come off the same assembly line as Stephen Cannell's Greatest American Hero, largely because his instruction manual for his time device, the Omni, was lost when he met Jeffrey (the dog ate it).

If NBC was smart, they would've repurposed the series on Saturday mornings, but there was no need at the time, though using it as a summer replacement might not have been so bad. The series was cancelled after 1 season, and was last seen on Retro a couple of years ago, airing on Sunday afternoons.

Edit, 5/19/23: NBCUniversal put in a copyright claim, so the video's gone. In its place is a screenshot.

This was appointment television at my house, since my dad was a bit into history and a little science-fiction.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

I so loved this show! It was also horribly mistreated by NBC!

I used to watch it whenever I could every Sunday. It was prempted a lot which was frustrating! I agree the show might have fared a bit better on Saturday mornings since in some ways this show was a live action cartoon - right down to the the leads wearing the same primary wardrobes every week (Bogg's pirate getup, and Jeffrey's jeans & striped polo shirt). Some other historical details were rather over simplified (especially since the show ended, some theories or reported facts were eventually disproved). The show had an ep about the Titanic which depicted Molly Brown as similar to her depiction in the Debbie Reynolds film (the heavy southern accent), not to mention depicting Bruce Ismay as having been a coward and dressing in woman's clothes to get on a lifeboat (disproven from most accounts I know of).

Still - Peluce and John Erik Hexum were a great team, which is significant when you consider how touch and go it can be when working with a child actor regularly. When it was reported that Hexum had died on the set of his series, "Cover Up", I was HEARTBROKEN! He was so talented and really could have done so much more.

Peluce is the older half brother to Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster herself!) and from what I'd heard, he went to college and became a teacher. He seemed none the worse for his time in Hollywood.

hobbyfan said...

I'm aware of Peluce being Soleil Moon Frye's half-bro. At least he got out of show business with his dignity intact. Smart dude.

I will be reviewing Punky soon, by the way.