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Who Remembers THE WIZARD?

Updated on September 9, 2016

September 9, 1986

Thirty years ago today, 9/09/86, THE WIZARD premiered on CBS.
Thirty years ago today, 9/09/86, THE WIZARD premiered on CBS. | Source

THE WIZARD

THE WIZARD was a regrettably short-lived TV show on CBS. It only lasted 19 episodes. THE WIZARD starred the late David Rappaport as Dr. Simon McKay, an inventor and toymaker. Simon is a Little Person who once worked for the Pentagon, but turned away from them in disgust when his inventions were misused. Douglas Barr played his live-in bodyguard, CIC Agent Alex Jagger. The late Fran Ryan played Tillie Russell, Simon's housekeeper. The show was created by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Paul B. Radin. It ran from September 9, 1986 to March 12, 1987.

Like any TV show, there were some good episodes and some not quite as good, but on the whole, the show was well written. It was family-friendly and encouraged positive values. One of the show's theme's (and Simon's personal mantra) was "Anything is possible." THE WIZARD celebrated creativity, imagination, diversity, friendship, respect, finding non-violent solutions to problems, tenacity, and perseverance.

THE WIZARD Opening Credits (Very Poor Quality, Sorry)

Cast and Characters

Dr. Simon McKay (David Rappaport): Simon is short of stature (3'11" by most sources, although reports of Rappaport's height varied from 3'6" to 4'), but gigantic in brains and heart. He patented his first invention at the age of seven. After leaving the Pentagon, Simon vanished for six years. The best intelligence agencies in the world (both Free World and beyond the Iron Curtain) couldn't find him. Then he reappeared, and set up as a toymaker, refusing to say where he'd been. Because many evildoers would happily kidnap Simon and sell him to the highest bidder, the USA government provides him with protection. Like Angus MacGyver and Plastic Man's sidekick Hula-Hula, Simon is the sort of person who has friends everywhere; he's as likely to know a archaeologist in the Yucatan Peninsula as a bag lady in New York City or a musician in Paris. He'll drop everything and come running if a friend needs him. Simon has a prodigious sweet tooth. When it comes to childhood, his belief is "better late than never." His well-meaning parents attempted to toughen him up, thus depriving him of a normal childhood, and he's doing his best to play catch-up now. When he needs to think, he plays the drums. Loudly. (In real life, Rappaport played both drums and accordion.)

"The Pentagon has five sides and I suddenly found myself opposite most of them."

"An idealist is someone who thinks 'cause a rose smells better than a cabbage it will make better soup. I am not an idealist."

"Sometimes you have to believe before you can see. We don't know all the mysteries of nature. If we're on the road to knowledge, we might have to go the first few miles on faith."

Agent Alex Jagger (Douglas Barr): Alex is Simon's live-in bodyguard, and the two quickly become friends. Alex is a CIC agent. (My Google Fu is too weak to determine what the acronym CIC stood for. Perhaps they never said.) He is handsome, bold, and strong, the brawn to Simon's brains.

"Do you remember when I said this was a boring assignment? . . . I lied!"

"I keep magic alive."

Tillie Russell (Fran Ryan): Tillie is Simon's friend and housekeeper, and was a surrogate mother to him in his youth. Realizing he would never grow big, his parents decided he needed to grow tough, and sent him off to be a cabin boy on a cargo ship out of Liverpool. Tillie was the ship's cook. She befriended the wee lad, and they've been bosom buddies ever since.

"If I'm lying, I'll tie an anchor to my tongue and swallow it."

"Them boys need me. Someone's gotta take care of 'em."

Troyan (Roy Dotrice): Troyan and Simon were once colleagues and rivals at the Pentagon. (Odd, considering both are played by British actors.) Troyan once set a trap for Simon, but it backfired, injuring Troyan instead of killing Simon, and leaving him in chronic pain. As a result, he seeks revenge against Simon. He is not entirely sane.

"Do you know what it's like to suffer in pain? The only blessing is that it's a sign you're still alive."

"Don't underestimate him! Never underestimate Simon McKay."

Darcy Stafford (Gates McFadden): Before becoming Dr. Beverly Crusher on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, Cheryl Gates McFadden played CIC Agent Darcy Stafford. This is one of her few acting roles to be billed as Cheryl McFadden. Normally, she uses Gates McFadden for her work as an actress and Cheryl McFadden for her work as a dancer/choreographer. Darcy had a history with Alex. He took over from her as Simon's live-in bodyguard. She only appeared in the pilot; had the show lasted longer, she doubtless would have returned to reprise her role.

"Simon's safety is our responsibility."

"Good manners apply no matter where you are."

David Rappaport

David Rappaport, November 23, 1951 -- May 2,1990
David Rappaport, November 23, 1951 -- May 2,1990

THE WIZARD: Episode Guide

Alas, THE WIZARD didn't last long. Only nineteen episodes were filmed and broadcast, although you can find rough notes for two episodes that were only partially written at the official fan website, Simon vs Simon and Two Souls/One Breath.

A few of the episodes are available on YouTube, but the picture quality is so-so and the sound quality is dreadful.

El Dorado: Simon is flattered that Bryan, a dying boy, uses his make-a-wish to visit his toy lab. CIC Agent Alex Jagger is upset at being transferred as Simon's new bodyguard. Simon learns that the boy's older brother is in South America, looking for El Dorado, and with Darcy and Alex, goes to find Bryan's brother Douglas to see if he can donate bone marrow. Alas, artifact thieves are on the verge of killing Douglas; Simon, Darcy, and Alex must rescue him.

Reunion: Simon is reunited with his old friend, Tillie Russell, as well as his enemy, Troyan. Simon explains why he left the Pentagon and tries to stop Troyan, who has bigger plans than just a smuggling ring, plans worthy of Moriarty.

Haunting Memories: Alex and Simon help a woman whose store may be haunted by the ghosts of the store's former owners, who were murdered.

Seeing is Believing: Simon develops Aegis, a robotic service dog. Bad guys can think of more profitable ways to use Aegis than helping people.

An Inside Job: Terrorist want to use Simon's radio-controlled plane to destroy an airline. Simon, Alex, and Tillie must stop the bad guys and help a young runaway.

Born to Run: What do race horses, a fractured family, and Alex's new girlfriend have in common? Trouble that only the Wizard of Elm Street can solve.

The Other Side: An international custody case (live American daddy, deceased Russian mommy) puts a six year old girl in the middle of the Cold War. Will Simon submit to the Russians' demands to keep a friend's daughter on American soil?

Twist of Fate: Is it coincidence or fate when Troyan and Simon end up at the same spot in the Himalayas, seeking the same wise woman?

Nobody's Perfect: Simon rescues a fellow inventor from a mobster.

It Tales a Chimp: Mix a British noblewoman, a chimpanzee, and a toymaker and what do you get? Lessons about thinking before you make judgments.

Endangered Species: This one was self-plagiarized, er, recycled from an episode of MANIMAL by the same scriptwriters. Simon, Alex, and Tillie help a feral child who's being treated like a lab rat rather than a human being. But the girl has bigger problems than laboratory ethics -- someone who knows who her true identity is trying to kill her.

Trouble in the Stars: A teenage scientist is trying to contact aliens. Unfortunately, Troyan is far more dangerous than Klingons or Shi'ar.

The Heart of a Dancer: Simon must convince a maimed dancer that her heart is more important than her legs.

Never Give Up: A Native American boy seeks Simon's help when drug dealers threaten the reservation.

Daydream Believer: A boy wants Simon's help to stop a Soviet plot. Is it just his overactive imagination, or is the danger real?

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: Science meets mysticism. Twin girls communicate through visions. And what abilities is Tillie hiding from her past?

The Aztec Dagger: Simon's hero and inspiration needs help. A stolen dagger, an ancient curse, and a broken man who needs to refind himself ... just another ordinary day for the Wizard of Elm Street.

Papa Simon: A baby left on Simon's doorstep is just the first step in mystery and misadventure.

H.E.N.R.I. VIII: The robot Simon made is accused of murder. Can he prove H.E.N.R.I.'s innocence, or will the robot be disassembled?

Alex, Simon, and Darcy

Alex Jagger, Simon McKay, and Darcy Stafford
Alex Jagger, Simon McKay, and Darcy Stafford | Source

THE WIZARD: The Quest for a DVD

Many equally short-lived shows of lesser quality have been released on DVD. Fans of THE WIZARD have been trying for years to get the show professionally released on DVD.

There is a website with a petition to attempt to get the show released on a licensed, professional DVD, not a pirated second- or third-generation copy of someone's old videotapes.

There is a Facebook page called Rescue The Wizard Campaign: To Free The Wizard (1986) from the Vaults.

Andrew Leclerc wrote a blog post about THE WIZARD.

With today the 30th anniversary of THE WIZARD's premiere, it would be nice if CBS would release the show on DVD.

Rescue The Wizard

At a Glance: Who's Who, What's When

Episode Title
Scriptwriters
Date
El Dorado
Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz
September 9, 1986
Reunion
Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz
September 16, 1986
Haunting Memories
Kerry Lenhart and John J. Sakmar
September 23, 1986
Seeing is Believing
Douglas Barr and Dale Kern
September 30, 1986
An Inside Job
Mary Ann Kasica and Michael Scheff
October 7, 1986
Born to Run
Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon
October 14, 1986
The Other Side
Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon
October 21, 1986
Twist of Fate
Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz
October 28, 1986
Nobody's Perfect
Rick Mittleman
November 8, 1986
It Takes a Chimp
Michael Berk, Jeff Kincaid, Brad Radnitz, and Douglas Schwartz
November 15, 1986
Endangered Species
Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz
December 16, 1986
Trouble in the Stars
Rick Mittleman and Brad Radnitz
December 30, 1986
The Heart of a Dancer
Michael Berk, Deborah Zoe Dawson, Victoria Johns, and Douglas Schwartz
January 6, 1987
Never Give Up
Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz
January 20, 1987
Daydream Believer
Gabe Torres and John Whelpley
January 27, 1987
Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves
Michael Berk, Jonathan Glassner, and Douglas Schwartz
February 3, 1987
The Aztec Dagger
Michael Cassutt and John Whelpley
February 19, 1987
Papa Simon
Michael Berk, Jonathan Glassner, Arthur Bernard Lewis, and Douglas Schwartz
March 5, 1987
H.E.N.R.I. VIII
Steven Barnes
March 12, 1987

David Rappaport as Dr. Simon McKay

"The Wizard is thinking of you.  Dave Rappaport"
"The Wizard is thinking of you. Dave Rappaport"

Guest Stars on THE WIZARD

Episode
Guest Stars
 
El Dorado
Gates McFadden
 
Reunion
Roy Dotrice, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
 
Haunting Memories
Kristen Meadows
 
Seeing is Believing
Nadine Van Der Veld
 
An Inside Job
Andre Gower
 
Born to Run
Leslie Jordan
 
The Other Side
Bart Braverman, Elizabeth Savage
 
Twist of Fate
Roy Dotrice, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Viveca Lindfors
 
Nobody's Perfect
Avery Schreiber, Al Ruscio
 
It Takes a Chimp
Sarah Douglas
 
Endangered Species
Priscilla Weems
 
Trouble in the Stars
Robbie Rist, Roy Dotrice, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
 
The Heart of a Dancer
Marine Jahan
 
Never Give Up
Kenny Morrison
 
Daydream Believer
Trey Ames
 
Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves
Natalie Gregory
 
The Aztec Dagger
Stewart Granger, Roy Brocksmith
 
H.E.N.R.I. VIII
Roddy McDowall
 

FanFiction for THE WIZARD

Fanfiction, or fanfic, for THE WIZARD is difficult to find. AO3 has four stories, a novella, and a poem. FanFiction.net has five stories. Compare this to NCIS (10,072 stories and poems on AO3 alone) or MY LITTLE PONY (over 27,000 stories on FanFiction.Net, nearly 28,000 when you count crossovers).

Partly this is because of the age of the show. Three decades ago, fanfic was published in fanzines, not posted on the Internet. (Yes, padawan, fanfic predates 'netfic.) Most of those 'zines are long since out of print, with faded copies packed away in someone's attic. That was about the time fanzines were moving from mimeographed to photocopied, as the price of photocopying came down. Fanzines were limited to a small group of readers and writers, and published and sold discreetly, due to everyone being aware of something called copyright violation. Most fanfic writers in the 1970s and '80s put their real names on their stories, knowing each story would be read by no more than 200 or 300 people, most of whom could be trusted to be discreet because they were guilty of violating copyright, too. I have heard of, but never seen, an all-THE WIZARD fanzine called Simon's Workshop, but I strongly suspect most THE WIZARD fanfic stories were in multi-media genzines like Remote Control or Frak, one story here, one story there, buried between REMINGTON STEELE/RIPTIDE crossovers and STAR WARS filk songs.

Partly this is because the people who are attempting to get the show released on DVD are zealous about maintaining copyright, and anyone writing fanfic is doing so as discreetly as possible. However, the little THE WIZARD fanfic that is available is almost all G or PG. The few fanfic authors posting THE WIZARD fanfic on-line have stayed true to the mood and tone of the show.

Personally, I would love to read a THE WIZARD/MACGYVER crossover, if someone would be kind enough to write one, as I think Mac and Simon have a lot in common. I could see them being friends, probably good friends.

Do You Remember THE WIZARD?

Do you remember THE WIZARD?

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    • SusanMMacdonald profile image
      Author

      Susan M Macdonald 11 months ago from USA

      Thank you. I wish it had lasted longer; 19 episodes aren't enough to make rerunning it practical.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

      I'm completely drawing a blank on this one but enjoyed reading!