Q & A: The Power Within; Hey, Landlord

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

I can only remember that there was a young guy, who wore this wristwatch that kept him “charged” with electricity, which he could shoot from his hands or the watch or something. After he did this a few times he got really exhausted…I cannot remember much more in detail, other than maybe he had some funny looking eyes, and I think he traveled with a partner or someone who would assist him from time to time…if you know what this TV show was, please let me know. Thanks in advance.

I’ve posted and written to several sites and I’ve not been the only one searching for the name of this show. It’s gone beyond curiosity at this point. I’m just looking for proof that I haven’t lost my mind (although the fact that a handful of others have the same specific details in their memories do negate that somewhat). Enough talk, here goes: In the late 70’s there was a show which may have been like a mini series but I really think it was just a few episodes of a failed series I seem to remember it was on Friday nights (maybe) and that there were only 3 episodes shown. I’d was about a guy that got hit by lighting and gained the power to conduct electricity. He had 2 “sidekicks” maybe an older guy (handler) and a chick his own age. He used his powers to fight crime but he had to make sure he stayed charged up or he’d die. I remember him getting “charged” in a large glass tube device. He also wore a watch that let him know if his powers were getting low.

It’s not Misfits of science, Gemini man or one other show that escapes me at the moment. I hope you can help, otherwise I’m afraid I’m going to have to start contacting the networks and see if anyone remembers this show.

This wasn’t a short-lived television show, it was a ninety-minute telefilm pilot called The Power Within aired on Friday, May 11th, 1979 as part of ABC’s “Friday Night Movie Double Feature.” Television listings suggest that it was originally called Powerman or The Powerman. Rather than paraphrase, I’m simply going to quote the review of The Power Within written by Kevin Thomas for The Los Angeles Times:

In “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” Art Hindle was the first person to turn into a pod; here he’s a devil-may-care stunt pilot who’s struck by lightning, which instead of killing him–for reasons too complicated to explain here–turns him into a human electrocutioner. So instead of turning into an Incredible Hulk like Bill Bixby does, Hindle at will can zap you with blue bolts of lightning emanating from his fingertips!

Now, Hindle does have to recharge himself like a battery from time to time, but he comes in terrifically handy for his Air Force general father Edward Binns, who’s in charge of developing a circuitry system for suspended animation. The system is coveted by the unnamed employer of bad guys Eric Braeden and David Hedison, who have Binns’ aid Dick Sargent in their grasp.

All of this, which also involves pretty Susan Howard as an aeromedical research scientist, and Joe Rassaluo as Hindle’s understandably perplexed pal, is as silly as it sounds, but writer Edward J. Lasko and director John Llewellyn Moxy knowingly play “The Power Within” consistently straight but fast. The result is mindless fun, escapist fare that works if you let it. [1]

Thomas called The Power Within “an amusingly absurd comic-book-type adventure” [2]. It was followed by another telefilm, The Nightrider, which starred David Selby as a man bent on revenge against the men who killed his adoptive mother’s parents.

What info. can you give me on this show? I was thinking the other night, about when a local station in my area was reruning it in the 70s. I remember it VERY, VERY, VAGUELY when it ran in the 60s, on either NBC or CBS. I remember from the reruns that it was about 2 young guys who ran an apt. building, and I THINK Sheldon Leonard had something to do with the show; but that’s all I remember. What else can you tell me?

When I originally answered this question, I assured Joe that Sheldon Leonard had nothing to do with Hey, Landlord. I have since discovered that Leonard was, in fact, involved in the production of the series, which was created by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson, distributed by United Artists Television, and produced by Mirisch-Rich Television Productions. In a July 10th, 1966 article in The New York Times, George Gent writes that Leonard “will oversee the Mirisich-Rich production under the title of executive consultant” [3].

The half-hour sitcom starred Will Hutchins as aspiring writer Woody Banner and Sandy Baron as aspiring comedian Chuck Hookstratten. Woody’s uncle died, leaving him an apartment building in New York City, and Woody ended up managing the building. He roomed with Chuck. Other tenants included a frustrated photographer and a Japanese stewardess.

Hey, Landlord ran for a single season of 31 episodes from 1966-1967 on Sundays at 8:30PM ET, following Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and before Bonanza. It premiered on September 11th, 1966 to mediocre ratings that never improved. It was nearly cancelled mid-season but instead additional episodes were ordered and Sally Field was added as Woody’s sister, Bonnie. It finished out the season and was promptly cancelled.

Joe recalls hearing Sheldon Leonard introduce the characters at the start of the very first episode when the series was shown in syndication during the 1970s. I can’t confirm that, but I don’t doubt his memory.

Works Cited:

1 Thomas, Kevin. “TV Movie Reviews: ABC Airs Double Feature Tonight.” Los Angeles Times. 11 May 1979: G29.
2 Ibid.
3 Gent, George. “Sandy Baron: The Brownsville Boy Who Made Good.” New York Times. 10 Jul. 1966: 87.

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6 Replies to “Q & A: The Power Within; Hey, Landlord”

  1. “HEY, LANDLORD!” was “bought” by Procter & Gamble for its 8:30pm(et) Sunday night time period on NBC for the fall of ’66, replacing “BRANDED” when those ratings fell. P&G figured “HEY, LANDLORD!” was a better draw (and more attractive) for younger audiences than “THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW” on CBS and “THE FBI” on ABC…the better to buy Crest toothpaste, Prell shampoo, etc. It didn’t quite work out that way, and the show gave way to a summer run of “LET’S MAKE A DEAL” before P&G bought producer Desi Arnaz’s sitcom, “THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW” for the fall of ’67….

  2. Thank you so much for confirming that this show (The Power Within) actually existed! This was the last show on my personal list that I couldn’t identify, but had strong childhood (almost dreamlike remembrances of). Feels good to finally know the truth :) Bless you for hunting this stuff down!

  3. THE POWER WITHIN was an ABC backdoor pilot from Mr. Aaron Spelling that was part of the 1979 development crop, and it followed another highly-regarded backdoor THE NIGHT RIDER from the typewriter of Mr. Stephen J. Cannell.

    By the time of broadcast, ABC essentially had their 1979 fall sked locked, but these backdoor pilots would have still been in contention as mid-seasoners or third-season shortflights for the 1979-80 season.

    Neither pilot got picked up however, and the ratings may have been judged by ABC as too weak (ABC finished first in the 1978-79 season with a 20.9HH average). THE NIGHT RIDER backdoor garnered a 15.5HH/27% from 8-9:30 pm, while THE POWER WITHIN backdoor averaged 12.7HH/26% from 9:30-11:00 pm.

    Both backdoors came in third for the night, running behind ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ on CBS, and a ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ one-hour special and a ‘Best of the Dean Martin Specials’ retrospective on NBC.

  4. HEY LANDLORD really got pounded in the ratings considering that it was sandwiched between # 19 DISNEY and still # 1 BONANZA; it ranked 67th for the season according to Television magazine’s Volume 24, # 8 issue.

  5. NBC however refused Monty to do another prime time version to replace Accidental Family (whom Sheldon Leonard was involved), instead it was an earlier nighttime version of The Hollywood Squares.

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