Monday, March 24, 2014

What Might've Been: Whiz Kids (1983)

In the wake of the feature film, "War Games", with Matthew Broderick & Ally Sheedy, CBS introduced a series about a team of amateur sleuths using computer technology to help solve crimes.

Whiz Kids lasted just 8 months, airing first on Wednesdays before moving to Saturday nights. In this writer's opinion, CBS would've been well served airing this on the back end of their Saturday morning lineup, since they were looking for a hit show back then.

Matthew Laborteaux (ex-Little House on the Prairie) played Richie, the leader of the team. The supporting cast included A. Martinez (ex-The Cowboys, later of the soap, Santa Barbera) as the team's police contact, Jeffrey Jacquet (ex-Mork & Mindy), & Max Gail (ex-Barney Miller), who had top billing. After 8 seasons of playing a cop, Gail, now with thinning hair and a mustache, played an investigative reporter who was the kids' unofficial mentor. Unfortunately, it was Gail's only shot at being a lead.

WREYTube uploaded the open:

Series creator Phil DeGuere had waited two years for Whiz Kids to come to fruition. Sad to say, while his dream had been realized, it crashed in less than a year. It was almost as if they wanted to mix together Encyclopedia Brown (which was later adapted by HBO), The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and other detectives (Universal, which produced Whiz Kids, had a license for the Hardys & Nancy just a few years earlier), with then-modern ideas, but viewers weren't interested. Gail aside, they could perceive that this show was meant to be more about the kids in the first place. Television wasn't ready for a prime time show with a juvenile lead just yet, but that would change soon enough, with the emergence of Punky Brewster (NBC) & Doogie Howser, MD (ABC).

No rating  Never saw the show.


magicdog said...

I remember this show - it was likeable, and definitely inspired by "War Games" in that the computer savvyness of the kids was a big part of the premise.

Plus, kids can't help but idolize other kids showing they could get things done. Movies with that basic premise would follow as the dace went on.

Plus it was nice to see Max Gail again. IIRC he's been wearing a hairpiece even during his time on "Barney Miller".

hobbyfan said...

Oh, it was a rug, eh? Fooled me.

I think he also went natural for Martian Chronicles, IIRC.