Saturday, July 16, 2011

Family Toons: Devlin (1974)

The emergence of stunt cyclist Evel Knievel during the 70's served as the inspiration for Hanna-Barbera's short-lived series, Devlin, one of four 1st year series the studio sold to ABC in 1974 (The others? Hong Kong Phooey, These Are The Days, & the live-action Korg: 70,000 B. C..).

Ernie Devlin (Michael Bell) was the star attraction of a traveling circus, and employed brother Todd (Micky Dolenz, ex-The Monkees) and sister Sandy (newcomer Michelle Robinson) as his assistants. The series illustrated that dangers that go with the business. Unfortunately, Devlin was slotted near the bottom of the ABC lineup, as memory serves, and was cancelled after 1 season.

ClassicTelevisionFan uploaded the open:

Like a lot of marginal H-B characters, Ernie would later resurface on the [adult swim] series, Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. Here, the writers allowed Ernie to age, making him an elderly retiree (voiced by King of the Hill's Toby Russ), which would suggest that in his own series, Ernie was in early 30's. Sadly and predictably, Ernie wasn't treated with respect in his two appearances.

I barely remember seeing this series during its initial run, but from what I can recall, it might've been the family angle that prevented Devlin, as well as These Are The Days, from gaining a firm foothold with viewers.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I remember watching this show as a kid and the nods towards Evel Kneivel were obvious even back then, but it was still fun anyway.

I think you're right that the family aspects of the show was what doomed it. I liked it and seeing the family carry on despite losing their parents was an opportunity to make a slightly more mature cartoon. Apparently Saturday morning viewers weren't ready for that yet.

I loved how the Devlins looked out for one another. I used to think how lucky Sandy was to have Earnie and Todd as brothers!

I' d love to see a reboot of this show; instead of a traveling circus, Earnie would probably either be a stuntman in films or perhaps doing a show in Las Vegas!

hobbyfan said...

Now, there's a thought. I was thinking more along the lines of rebooting this show as an analog of Lee Majors' 80's series, "The Fall Guy", with Ernie becoming a bounty hunter to supplement his income from his Hollywood work. Something that ABC, which was home to both shows, never considered!