Then Came Bronson & More!

Then Came Bronson & More!

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I’ve got to admit that I’m a sucker for any TV show that
features a motorcycle. I recently stumbled across a 2015
AMC program called “Into The Badlands”. The show features
a post-apocalyptic world run by territorial Barons. In the
show, the barons have very skilled fighters called Clippers.
One Baron’s Regent (a chief Clipper) named Sunny (played
by Daniel Wu) rides around on a cool steampunk-styled
motorcycle. The bike plays a big role in
season 1 but in season 2 it is not seen
at all so far (I am only halfway through
the second season) Since I’ve not
seen the bike yet, I am quickly losing
interest in the storyline and characters.
Without the moto playing a regular role
in the storylines, I’m sadly not intrigued
enough to keep watching. But Into The
Badlands has been picked up for a third
season so clearly I am in the minority. I
typically love shows with swordplay and
tales of post-apocalyptic futures but for
me if the bike is not a main feature, I’m
disengaged.
Speaking of futures… The uncertain
future of a newspaper reporter who
drops out of the rat race in search of
adventure on his motorcycle was the
premise behind the 1969-1970 NBC TV
show Then Came Bronson. This particular show only ran for
one season but it originally started with a film pilot that set the
stage for the 26 episodes that followed. In the pilot the main
character Jim Bronson (played by Michael Parks) meets an
old friend who has grown disillusioned with the world (played
by Martin Sheen). Just before killing himself, he gives Jim his
motorcycle, which pushes Jim to quit his own job and hit the
open road. Many people believe that the legendary film Easy
Rider influenced this show but it is actually the other way
around since TCB (just barely) predates the film. One thing
I particularly love is the image on Jim’s gas tank of the All
Seeing Eye. When you watch the episodes you can’t help but
think that the eye of God is watching Jim and watching over
him. Another thing I dig about the show is that Michael Parks
sings not only the closing credits song, but maybe a dozen
other songs over the course of the season.
It’s also interesting to note that the
creator of the show Denne Petitclerc
was a former reporter himself and one of
Earnest Hemingway’s protégés. Denne
only had a few TV writing credits to his
name but he wrote what he knew about.
40 years of life experience, plus having
known another reporter who did exactly
what Jim Bronson did years earlier
helped him create Bronson’s adventures.
In most episodes, Bronson helps people
he meets with their own dilemmas
but there is an impressive amount of
motorcycle racing and riding too. A lot of
that riding is actually done off-road which
is pretty entertaining. Bronson hill climbs
his knobby-tired Sporty successfully
thanks to the skills of film editing and the
stunt riding chops of legends Bud and
Dave Ekins. Parks actually rides the bike a lot on camera but
some of the scenes are just too intense to execute without the
talents of great stuntmen like Bud and Dave. In one episode,
Bronson crashes his bike and it flips multiple times down a
steep embankment eventually wrapping itself around a tree.
Soon after he is seen putting it back together and riding again.
Absolutely hilarious. That frame was so twisted up I doubt it
could ever be properly fixed. But that’s Hollywood for you;
Reality is put on pause.

Alan Tecchio

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