Thursday, October 28, 2010


I recently read a fun neo-pulp novel, "Jim Anthony, Super Detective: The Hunters" (by Josh Reynolds and Micah S. Harris), which resurrected an action hero from public domain and then had him interact with other established characters from classic sources in a two-part story that made for a thematic whole.

Jim Anthony was a Nietzschean uber-man in the mold of Doc Savage. (I believe Anthony was created to cash in on the popularity of "the Man of Bronze".) He was half-Irish, half-Comanche, the perfect combination of muscle and brain.

In the first half of the novel, written by Reynolds, Jim Anthony teamed up with Count Zaroff, the mad Russian from the famous short story "The Most Dangerous Game", on a hunt for the Yeti in the skyscraper canyons of 1931 Manhattan. The story also included Jules Verne's Baltimore Gun Club and a character from 1890's horror fiction, the King in Yellow.

Part Two, written by Harris, teams up Anthony and Zaroff again; this time they embark on a trip to hunt dinosaurs (maybe some more... challenging prey) and their paths intersect with the passengers and crew of the Venture who are on their way to Skull Island to film a movie. All of them come into contact with a certain over-sized primate who will become "The Eighth Wonder Of The World".

I'm thinking Jim Anthony would make for a great TV series, one in the style of those action-adventure syndicated shows of the 1990's, like 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys', 'Jack Of All Trades', and 'The Lost World'. And "Jim Anthony, Super Detective: The Hunters" would be the perfect base for not only launching the series (the book's Part One), but to also provide a two-part season finale (the book's Part Two).

Taking a cue from the authors, some of the characters would have to have their names hidden in aliases as they would still be under some copyright protection (particularly Carl Denham and Ann Darrow, and especially His Nibs, King Kong.) But otherwise, both of the tales would make for rousing book-ends to a syndicated series about this 1930's "super man" (the home-grown variety).

I've even given some thought to casting, but only for the three main characters - the hero, his side-kick, and the special guest star to help sell the series.

First up....

The "Super Detective" has to be more than just muscular. (He's going to have his shirt ripped off quite frequently.) He'll also need to be deft at light comedy and romantic situations. (Unlike Doc Savage, Anthony delved into amorous adventures, something that probably sold more copies of his stories to the teen boys of that time.)

So here's my choice for the role: Ryan McPartlin. There's a reason McPartlin's role as Devon on NBC's 'Chuck' is nicknamed "Captain Awesome". He just is. He's got the build and the humor which would be needed for Jim Anthony. And in an episode of 'Mad Men', which was set about forty-five years ago, he was at home acting in a period piece. Pushing it all back another thirty years or more doesn't appear to be beyond his ken.

As it is with most TV show pilots, a name guest star is usually brought in to help sell the concept so that it goes to series. That guest star is usually taken out of the equation (or replaced by a cheaper actor) when the show is picked up for production on a weekly basis.

In the case of a show about Jim Anthony, that character would be:

The Russian nobleman and fantatical hunstman needs an actor who exudes the strength of will and power of personality to make him more than a match for Anthony. Even though he'd be older, you can tell just by looking into his eyes that Zaroff could give the "super detective" a worthy opponent - once they no longer were allies, that is.

And it seems to be customary/tradition that such a character have a British accent, no matter what country (or planet) they may be from. If I was casting the role of Count Zaroff, there's only one man out there today whom I think can fit the bill: Timothy Dalton. Just look at how Stalinesque he appears in this publicity still from "The Beautician And The Beast". Those piercing eyes offer up the threat and enticement of danger, but he could also be suave and charming to the ladies (although Jim Anthony would probably succeed more often.)

Being the big name guest star, Dalton would only be needed for the pilot episode and then a final, return appearance in the two-part finale that would mostly take place on Skull Island. (A trip to Hawaii to use old 'Lost' locations would be in order. I'm sure Dalton would be amenable to a working vacation in Hawaii.....)

The only other character I'd want to cast at present would be Jim Anthony's side-kick/assistant:

According to "Jim Anthony, Super Detective: The Hunters", Tom is a big, beefy Irishman always there with a gat or a getaway. And this is how he was portrayed in the original stories back in the 30's.

But I think I'd want to go a different route in the visualization of Tom Gentry for any proposed TV series. You get another big muscular guy onscreen working with Jim Anthony, then you dilute the image of strength that should be Anthony's showcase.

I think Tom should be of a slighter build; he shouldn't be as brainy as Anthony either - more smart-aleck than smart, always ready with a quip. I see Tom as the guy who serves as Anthony's driver, the go-to guy to check out potential clues, and the tech wizard who builds the gizmos and gadgets that Jim Anthony dreams up.

Tom is supposed to be Irish, but I think we could ease back on this as well. If even the slightest hint of an accent, his ancestry should be more a suggestion. (Fiona is supposed to be Irish on 'Burn Notice', but would you have wanted to hear that accent she was sporting in the pilot through the run of the series?)
Here's how I envision the basic character of Tom Gentry. (A big Toobworld thanks to my friend Ray Amell for this picture of him at this summer's 1920's jazz lawn party in NYC.)

I'm thinking Kyle Howard, pictured below (most recently seen in 'My Boys'), has the look needed for this version of Tom Gentry. Seeing him next to Ryan McPartlin as Jim Anthony would make for an interesting contrast with this dynamic duo. I just wish I had a picture of the two of them next to each other to illustrate how great I think they would be together as Jim Anthony and Tom Gentry. (They both worked in episodes of "What I Like About You", but not together. McPartlin and Dalton both worked with Fran Drescher, but again, not on the same project.)

Those would be my big three for the casting on any proposed series based on "Jim Anthony, Super Detective". (I just wish the character had a more distinctive last name, but it's worked for the last eighty years so......) As for the casting of the other guest stars - from the King in Yellow to Ann Darrow - I'd leave that with the casting agents hired for the production. Whether the show was filmed in the States, or Vancouver, or New Zealand, (or even Cardiff - they know how to make their facilities look like anywhere in the world... and beyond!), I know they'd find the best talent available out there.......


[This was the 5600th post for Inner Toob!]

1 comment:

Ron Fortier said...

As the dude who produced this terrific pulp novel, I was thrilled to find this write-up and I loved your TV casting. Near perfect in my opinion.
You be interested in knowing, as for the 40s Jim Anthony look, I have our artist picturing 60s body building champ and movie star, Steve Reeves. Now he would have been the perfect JA.