The Spirit (1987) (DVD review).

June 24, 2015 | By | Reply More

Coincidences and luck happen a lot to me. When I reviewed Bob Andelman’s book ‘Will Eisner: A Spirited Life’ last month, I also commented that it would be interesting to see the 1986 TV pilot of ‘The Spirit’, saying it couldn’t be any worse than Frank Miller’s 2009 film version. A look through US Amazon, purely on the off-chance, and look what I found from the Warner Archive Collection. It pays not to give up looking. A little expensive but with this ‘The Spirit’, another tick off my bucket list. Is it worse? It isn’t. It’s funny in the right places, even if its nearly thirty years old and should be judged on that age and budget. Even more remarkable that it was never picked up as a series. That’s not to say it isn’t perfect, what TV pilot isn’t? But it wouldn’t have needed that much of a polish. Steven de Souza’s script paid attention to Will Eisner’s comicbook and didn’t ignore it which is important. Visually, director Michael Schultz kept the more basic colours from the Spirit’s blue suit, white shirt and red tie to the blue domino mask he wore. Actor Sam Jones also looked the…er…spirit of the character and certainly bore no similarity to a certain ‘Flash Gordon’ that he appeared as in 1980.


Police Detective Denny Colt arrives at Central City, determined to find the murderer of his teacher Will Sevrin (actor Philip Baker Hall) who is killed in an arson attack and was writing a book on forgeries. He presents his papers to Police Commissioner Dolan (actor Gary Walberg) and his daughter, Ellen (actress Nana Visitor) and P’Gell Roxton (actress McKinlay Robinson) and his need to investigate Simon Teasdale (actor Daniel Davis) but told to wait until Monday, not to mention how much political clout he would have against him. Colt doesn’t listen and after being chucked out of Teasdale’s museum is told by Bruno (actor John Allen) to meet him that night in Pier 10 for evidence only to be shot dead. Well, we know that he survives and Denny Colt is dead but his spirit continues as a crime-fighter with some resemblance to a certain Lone Ranger, except that he has no horse. From here on, we get on to the nitty gritty of the crime investigation as the Spirit rises and finds out what is going on. As this is major spoiler, its time to take your own plunge into the pier and see this missing pilot for yourself.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this TV pilot but was pleasantly surprised, if not outright laughter in places, laughing with the gags than at the events. The Spirit here is not invulnerable, often being beaten unconscious, captured and tortured but he keeps going. A blonde Nana Visitor makes a perfect foil as Ellen Doyle and McKinlay Robinson catches the look of P’Gell from the comicbooks. Don’t turn your nose up, just adjust your mask and wonder why this Spirit was shelved.

GF Willmetts

June 2015

(region 1 DVD: pub: Warner’s Archive Collection. 1 DVD 69 minute TV pilot. Price: about £15.00 (UK), ($17.95) (US))

cast: Sam Jones, Nana Visitor, Bumper Robinson, Gary Walberg, Les Lennom, McKinlay Robinson, Daniel Davis and Philip Baker Hall

check out website:


Category: Comics, MEDIA, Superheroes, TV

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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