Episode 45: Do-Gooders

Rachel and Leeman talk about a specific type of TV experience before the sad walking away music plays over the credits.

Topics Discussed and/or Spoiled:

Ask Lovecraft, Rachel’s Farscape Blog, Brooklyn 99, Amelie, The Pretender, The Incredible Hulk, Time Trax, The Littlest Hobo, Hercules, Due South, Buffy, Early Edition, Sliders, Stargate, (The mystery show was called Johnny Bago!), Lazarus Man, Lord of the Rings, Leverage, Adventures of Lois & Clark, The Commish, Murder She Wrote, Suits, Firefly, AngelDoctor Who, and Sometimes I Like To Curl Up in a Ball.


Our outro is Debs & Errol’s Timmy the Combat Wombat

Geekually Yoked is a proud member of the Crossover Nexus

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9 Responses to Episode 45: Do-Gooders

  1. C. Mullican says:

    You missed a really early example, which started as a radio show, then became a TV show: Have Gun, Will Travel. The main character’s name, appropriately enough, is Paladin.

    Another radio show in the genre is The Six Shooter, with Jimmy Stewart in the title role.

    Not so much with the traveling around, but The Middleman is another example from more recent years.

    A current show that’s at least closely related is The Listener. It’s a cop show, but one of the characters actually is psychic, kind of the reverse of Psych.

    • Leeman says:

      I feel like a lot of those USA shows could count as a quasi-do gooder show. Dead Zone, Monk, Psych, etc. A lot of them are more police driven and don’t quite have that man alone on the run quality I so love but there is that innate cheesiness which cannot be ignored.

      • C. Mullican says:

        I think the fact that Toby actually is psychic, which at various times has to be concealed from his higher-ups, and that he’s in the IIB — I forget what it stands for, but it’s the “we handle the weird cases” unit — gives The Listener a bit more of the “lone hero” feel than some of the others. Hard to compare, though; I’ve never watched Monk or Dead Zone, and only a couple of episodes of Psych.

        Also, it’s actually a Canadian show. 🙂

  2. Allan Reini says:

    Great Episode. Here’s a couple more from the seventies: Alias Smith and Jones. (No, not “Alias.”) Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. Played by Pete Duel and Ben Murphy. A couple of outlaws awaiting amnesty from the Governor, but needing to stay out of trouble until said pardon is politically expedient. This they find themselves on the run in the old west, solving other people’s dilemma’s as they go.

    The Magician, starring the late, great Bill Bixby. Previously imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Magician Tony Blake spends his life helping others. (And using MAGIC to do it!) The fact that he lives out of his Jet (named Spirit) gives the show its itinerant nature. Interesting note: Bixby learned all the sleight-of-hand techniques used in the series, eschewing trick photography of any kind.

    Both of these series were cancelled after about two seasons, crushing my young spirit and turning me into the anti-social, cynical curmudgeon I am today.

    Hmmm. “I am today.” Easily the most quotable line from The Pretender.
    Old Lady Patient: “Are you a doctor?”
    Jared: “I am today.”

    • Allan Reini says:

      BTW, Leeman, speaking of The Pretender: If you happened to carve out the time to read Flight of the Angels (Tough to do, it’s a long read.), you might find a certain amount of similarity between the character of Nikky Weis and Broots from The Pretender. Broots was one of my favorite characters, and I always loved his placid acceptance of Miss Parker’s barely-concealed scorn. Nikky started out as an homage to Broots before developing as a character on his own.

  3. Mark Feldbush says:

    Hi Leeman & Rachel,

    I discovered the podcast about 3 weeks ago when I found the episode with Tee & Pip. I’ve listened to all the episodes that iTunes has and really enjoyed it.

    This episode on Do-Gooders was a lot of fun. My wife and I regularly watched The Pretender, Hercules, Xena, etc. when I was in seminary in the mid-90s. This is a “genre” I really dig as well.

    When you mentioned the Western as an antecedent to this storyline, I immediately thought of Have Gun Will Travel (I see someone else already recommended it). All of the episodes are available to download at archive.org in their old time radio area.

    Along these lines, I’m surprised that the Lone Ranger didn’t get a mention as a quintessential Do-Gooder. Roamed around, one companion, a troubled past…. He fits the bill.

    Another recent example that I’d offer is USA’s Burn Notice. Michael Westin has a haunted past, is hunted, works with a very small ensemble, helps the underdog being tormented by the bad guy, as a former spy, Michael and crew can do/be almost anything. The show (especially the earliest seasons) was very episodic and formulaic. I’m not as crazy about the last season or two. The one change that they made is that Michael can’t leave Miami. And the Hercules/Xena tie-in is Bruce Campbell who played Autolycus, also plays Sam on Burn Notice.

    I also think that there’s a Do-Gooder element to White Collar (also on USA) with the same conceit as Burn Notice… Neil can’t leave the radius of his anklet (or at least isn’t supposed to be able to….).

    • Hi Mark … Thanks for listening. We often miss the most obvious examples of the genres we discuss (check out our brit coms episode where we totally forgot to mention Fawlty Towers). But you are right, the Lone Ranger is clearly a perfect example of this type.

      Leeman will watch anything involving Bruce Campbell, but not being in the US and not having cable limits our access to a lot of these shows.

  4. Cheryl Johnson Keeping says:

    At one point on the podcast, you mentioned that we tend to prefer our heroes not to be wholly good these days. My question is, of course: but what about Jesus? (I know that Jesus is not a TV show, but I figured that the point about heroes could be extended to other narratives including religious stories.) I remember losing interest in Jesus when I was a teenager because he seemed like too much of a do-gooder. People would always talk about how counter-cultural he was, but the main point of most Bible stories was still that he always did the right thing. One of my favourite moments to this day is in the garden of Gethsemane when he demonstrates that he’s not unreflectively always doing the right thing. Perhaps other people’s Sunday school took less a miracle-of-the-week approach that kind of fits in with your discussion of itinerant heroes… I’m wondering what your thoughts are about how churches tend to present Jesus as hero, whether it’s accurate and how you find people usually respond.

    • Leeman says:

      I think there’s a lot to unpack there. Jesus does get presented to us first as a cuddly baby, then as the ultimate Gallant to our reprehensible Goofuses and then as the ultimate source of guilt which can lead to resentment more than gratitude. I think going in and truly seeing the humanity of Jesus while not denying his divinity is a key thing to moving away from pat and simple notions of him. It makes us think about our own humanity and the nature of a God who would share in it. Lots to unpack and more than just a statue or doll in a creche.

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