It may not be fair to compare Fangface, an early comedy show from Ruby-Spears, with a later action intro like The Centurions, but honest any of their comedy shows that went for the exposition narration rather than a proper theme song (some of which were actually decent) was the same way throughout their run, so it’s not like they improved in that department. However, when it came to action shows they actually had people who knew what they were doing.
The Centurions was actually not one of those shows based on a toy. In fact, the toy was based on the cartoon, though two new Centurions were added in season two to benefit the toys, one of the ways syndicated shows have to make money to be able to make a show. It’s not really as big a problem anymore since today shows are bought by networks to benefit their own ad revenue, or streaming services looking to boost their subscriber base, but the toy revenue and other merchandising still helps. So how did this show do the exposition opening right?
Start with a narrator that doesn’t sound like he’s simply reading the sales pitch. William Woodson sells the premise hard, making it sound dramatic and action packed to any young boy living in the mid 1980s. (The original miniseries premiered in 1986.) They make the heroes sound cool, brave, and ready to push back against the evil villains threatening the world in the “near future”. (Wikipedia suggests it’s in the 21st century, and I think we’d rather have that than the nonsense going on right now in 2020.)
The visuals help as well. Watching our heroes get into their “exo-frame” uniforms like a soldier or rescue worker, get teleported right into the middle of the action, then having weapons beamed onto their suits from a space station, followed by blowing evil robots to smithereens. That’s how you get the blood going. Each of the Centurions get a good introduction to the audience, though sadly Crystal Kane, the woman in Skyvault that beams the weapons down, isn’t even named, and there was no amendment for later additions Rex Charger and Apache John Thunder. Yeah, this show even knew how to name their characters. Crystal sounds tough for a non-combatant and the team couldn’t survive without her. Plus she had an orangutan for some reason. (Shadow is Jake’s dog.) Ace McCloud is perfect for a sky jockey, Jake Rockwell is the guy on the ground, and team leader Max Ray sounds like a sea-going bot-kicker. Even the villains–Doc Terror, Hacker, and mistress of disguise Amber (who doesn’t even get to be seen–maybe she’s hiding as one of the scared crowd doing some of daddy’s dirty work?)–have fitting names. That’s how we rolled in those days.
As a bonus you have that theme song. This show knew how to use its music, especially in the action scenes. It’s so action and so 80s but doesn’t overpower the narration or the visuals. All of it comes together beautifully. This is pretty much what the intro to Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos wishes it were. And that was also Ruby-Spears so you know they didn’t get it right all the time. That’s why The Centurions got a two-season series and Chuck didn’t make it past the miniseries pilot despite being the guy who got his own internet meme a decade or so later. I mean, there are other reasons, but this is about the intro and The Centurions clearly shows Ruby-Spears at their best.
[…] we ended up. First I looked at Fangface, a terrible intro from Ruby-Spears. I followed it up with The Centurions, a good example from the same company on how to do a narrated exposition. However, that was an […]
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Yes, this is a captivating intro for Centurions. I always thought the toys came before the show, so it’s pretty interesting to hear that actually the show was developed before the toys! The Centurions comic books by DC were decent too. I believe that only three issues were released. Such a shame because Centurions is just as good as MASK, and MASK had a large number of comic book issues put out by DC.
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[…] in an intro. If you’re going to do an exposition dump do it right. We went over that with The Centurions, where the explanation was dramatic, like it was being performed. Another way is to actually […]
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