Movie: Riding With Death:
This epic slice of the Seventies is actually two episodes of a
failed and monumentally stupid TV series welded together. It
(they) star(s) the vacuous, meaty Ben Murphy, an alleged Harvard
Law grad, now a super-agent for a super secret agency that works
out of a parking garage in Sherman Oaks. On a super secret
mission, radiation turned Ben invisible rather than killing him
and ending the series before it started, dammit.
In the first episode of the -ahem- movie, addle-pated Ben plays
a trucker, a station far beyond his intellect, and along with
Heywood Floyd from 2001: A Space Odyssey spearheads a
badly planned transport of a super-secret fuel additive from-
Aw, who the hell am I kidding? Why even bother? The plot is
stupid and pointless, The dialogue pat and smarmy, the actors
stagy in that Mid-seventies Universal Television
"who-gives-a-good-crap" sort of way, Heywood Floyd is
embarrassingly bad. And to cap it off, Riding With Death
showcases the slimy ministrations of the insipid, badly dressed
and apparently talentless cracker Jim Stafford. And I'm just
talking about the good stuff.
— Kevin Murphy
Mike shows off his talents as a teppanyaki chef, chopping
everything in sight; he slices off one of Crows claws, cooks it
lightly and serves it to him. Yum.
Mike and the 'Bots get an urgent call from the nice camping
planet: Bobo, Pearl and Brain Guy are under attack by renegade
warlike robots! Bobo has Gas, Brain Guy is dressed like a nurse,
and Mike ultimately blows up yet another planet, by gum.
Servo, looking not unlike Anthony Geary*, plugs in his Arp and
struts his stuff in a musical tribute to the Seventies. But poor
dumb Servo has got it wrong, he wrote about the decade of 70
A.D. (or C.E., if you must), not the Nineteen Seventies!
Hilarity ensues. Crow rounds out the cast.
Servo, inspired by all the trucking in the movie, has somehow
procured a skinny-legged but paunchy trucker body, complete with
flannel shirt, little cowboy boots and belt buckle. Mike points
out that he has no butt. Servo takes exception; he likes his
butt and talks to it.
Crow appears in just the cutest little outfit, and declares
himself Turkey Volume Guessing Man! The premise hinges on one or
two colloquial uses of the word "turkey" in a pejorative
context, and quickly collapses when Mike demonstrates his own
uncanny ability to guess an area's volume in increments of
On the S.O.L., Mike and the 'Bots try to recreate a canned
method of injecting a actor who wasn't in a film into the film.
It fails. In the Widowmaker, Pearl forced Bobo and Brain Guy to
honor her with so many medals and ribbons for bravery she
topples, sending them careening off into the beyond somewhere.
Buffalo Bill exclaims, "Waaa-haaaaa-hee-hoo!"
While we were shooting this episode, a
crew from Gold Coast Productions was at our studio, shooting a
behind-the-scenes special. Bill Corbett was dressed in his
Observer makeup as a nurse, all day long. As a result, many
viewers might come away with the impression that Bill is a
cross-dressing albino. This is very, very true.
During the production of the behind-the-scenes special, the
producers made the mistake of giving us home video cameras to
document our true selves at work. I think you will see us as we
are, a bunch of bizarre, hammy, blathering fools who somehow
have barely enough wits about us to cobble together a puppet
show in a reasonable amount of time.
As for the movie Riding With Death, I could go on for
hours on how annoyingly inept this thing was. Looking over the
encyclopedia of prime time TV, it becomes apparent that casting
Ben Murphy was the kiss of death for a series, and yet he
managed to work for years without anyone becoming suspect. And
Jim Stafford, I'm told, was once named one of the ten best
dressed men in America, giving additional weight to my argument
that the 1970's was the most shameful era in fashion perhaps in
the history of Civilization, with the possible exception of the
Elizabethan Era when Men wore panty hose and puffy shorts in
— Kevin Murphy
*Anthony Geary played Luke on General Hospital, a character who
rose to become America's favorite sexual predator.