Last time, we talked about how Sidekicks was spun from a Disney Sunday Movie, "The Last Electric Knight", and was a showcase for teen karate ace Ernie Reyes, Jr., who'd made his television debut---we think---three years earlier at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.
Sidekicks was also a vehicle for Gil Gerard (ex-Buck Rogers in The 25th Century) to return to television after some time away. Gerard was cast as Sgt. Rizzo, designated to act as a guardian for young Ernie after his grandfather (Keye Luke, seen mostly in flashbacks after the pilot) had passed away. Disney and Motown Television blew it by not keeping Luke around as more of a Mr. Miyagi type advisor-trainer, as they were looking to pick up the audience from the "Karate Kid" movies.
Originally set to air on Fridays when it launched in October, Sidekicks shifted to Saturdays after Lucille Ball's Life With Lucy was given the gate. Personally, they would've been better served forgetting about primetime, and slotting this on Saturday mornings in between The Real Ghostbusters and Bugs Bunny & Tweety.
Following is a sample clip. Frank Bonner (ex-WKRP in Cincinnati) plays Rizzo's partner, and reunited with former WKRP co-star Richard Sanders in this particular instance, with Sanders playing an FBI agent, but the hook here is the acting debut of wrestler Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, then with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), who'd cameoed several months earlier on The A-Team. Ricky plays Ernie's cousin.
Why this is in the Disney vaults, rights shared with Suzanne DePasse's current production company, I don't know.
Wikipedia has its initial scheduling wrong; I watched SLEDGE HAMMER! every week both years it was on, and SIDEKICKS followed HAMMER! on Fridays, airing at 9:30 PM Eastern (not 9, that's when SLEDGE aired). The shows switched order when both were moved to Saturdays in November, with SIDEKICKS airing first at 8 PM ET.
Either way, it shared SLEDGE's tough scheduling, opposite DALLAS and MIAMI VICE on Fridays and then THE FACTS OF LIFE on Saturdays. I agree with you, it was watchable.
9:30? Way too late for Sidekicks, if you ask me. Belonged at 8 right from the go.
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