Video update: the recording is done, but the editing will take a while longer, and I have visit to the blood drawing folks in my future before my trip to the blood doctor to see how I’m doing off of the blood thinner. That’s more blood talk than you’ll probably see in tonight’s offering.
Who remembers this from their youth? SST Muscle Machines were based on the then relatively new sport, monster truck racing. The history can be traced back to the 1970s but it was in the 80s that it became popular. And a large part of that popularity with kids came from the Hulk Hogan of monster trucks…surprisingly not the actual Hulk Hogan monster truck, but Bigfoot. The creation of Bob Chandler, Bigfoot was the face of monster trucks. During events Bigfoot would use to crush cars, which oddly I don’t see much of on TV these days. I don’t see much of Bigfoot either, but the truck is still popular enough to appear in video games.
He’s also been the star of cartoons. Yes, he, in at least two versions. As part of the “Power Team” segment of the first season of Video Power Bigfoot was the transportation for his fellow video game heroes (Acclaim had the license at the time and promoted the game along with Arch Rivals, NARC, Ironsword, and Qwirk) and was the only one to have a villain counterpart who didn’t come from the game but was instead a real-world monster truck zapped by Bigfoot’s game pack. (Long story). More recently, Bigfoot present Meteor And The Mighty Monster Trucks had Bigfoot as a cameo in a world where monster trucks were the dominant lifeform. Meteor, the title character, considers Bigfoot his hero and his team includes Bigfoot’s son, LT., and daughter, Zooey. It features monster trucks learning to become racers.
However, the first cartoon to star Bigfoot had it as an ordinary truck. To tie in with the aforementioned SST Muscle Machines toyline a cartoon was created called Bigfoot And The Muscle Machines, which aired as part of the same Super Week pilot miniseries special as long-time Saturday Night Showcase subject Robotix. It wasn’t as popular as some other shows that joined them later on, but I remember enjoying it. The series is actually focused on a group of monster truck competiors, all based on actual monster trucks at the time but not using their drivers as characters. And the names we got were just odd. But we’ll get more into that after the show.
So let’s talk about those names, shall we? Bob Chandler is replaced with Yank Justice, one of those names I’m sure MST3K just forgot to use in their Space Mutiniy episode. Allen Gaines, is replaced as driver of the Orange Blossom Special by Professor Dee. But it’s the last two that are hilarious. Dan Patrick, the driver of War Lord (that must have made it difficult to air in other countries) is replaced by Close McCall, a groan-worthy pun indeed. And I called my When In Time In Carmend Sandiego character Justin Time and my Mass Effect character Germain Shepard.(It’s French I think.) But at least those could be considered names. The husband and wife team of Kenneth and Paula Geuin (I think they’re husband and wife as I can’t find anything on them in the time I had to research) are replaced by the twins Red and Redder. That’s some lazy baby naming, folks.
Interestingly, Grave Digger is the name of the current big name monster truck, while this had a truck named Graveroller.
I kind of see why this didn’t make it to a full series. The end feels rather final, although I guess Ravenscroft could have escaped, somehow got his thugs back, and still challenged our heroes (ignoring their becoming rich I guess) it would feel like they forced a continuation. As a fan of old serials I can appreciate the silly ways they sometimes escaped their cliffhanger fates (this was originally a five-part miniseries only half a show long as I recall) but the final battle is kind of disappointing. I would have liked to have seen Yank and the youngified Ravenscroft have a big fight, but in the end even the vehicular battle was ended by the traps instead of anything Yank and Bigfoot did. It’s kind of anti-climatic.
Overall, it was interesting in movie form, even if we didn’t get to really know the characters. What is Dee a professor off? Did Close and Redder become a couple? What about Yank and Jennifer, and was Red jealous or did she see Yank as a friend? Will they continue to compete together? Unanswered questions but as an action piece it worked well enough. The toyline sort of went away but monster truck toylines, video games, and TV shows have continued on. There’s even a monster truck cartoon on TV now, Blaze And The Monster Machines, as well as Monster Jam racing on Fox Sports (as of this writing anyway), so maybe we’ll get a better show than this in the future. It’s at least a good template and a way for 80s kids to pass the time. These were our action shows until we were old enough to watch anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it.