Sunday, December 4, 2016

Bailey's Comets (1973-75)

Bailey's Comets
Stars: Carl Esser, Karen Smith
16 episodes

In Short: Around the world on roller skates.

I haven't run the numbers but methinks roller skating and its rock 'em, sock 'em offshoot - roller derby - have seen a considerable decline since their heyday, whenever that was. Nowadays roller derby is making something of a comeback but at the time Bailey's Comets aired the sport was being represented on the big screen by two big budget Hollywood movies - Kansas City Bomber (1972) and Rollerball (1975). On the small screen Bailey's Comets aired a total of 16 episodes, each of which were made up of two shorter segments.

In the annals of cartoondom plenty of strange stuff has come down the pike over the years, but Bailey's Comets has to be right up there with the strangest of them all. Roller skating is the theme here and apparently the six team members that make up Bailey's Comets (headed by one Barnaby Bailey) are a roller derby team, although in the episodes I watched I didn't recall seeing much rough stuff.

The gimmick here is a simple one - more than a dozen teams of skaters skate forth to assorted and sundry points around the globe, trying to win a prize of...are you ready for this - a million dollars! Which was the standard unimaginably large sum of money when I was growing up and one that sounded a lot more impressive back then.

Of course, with that kind of dough at stake, it should come as no surprise that the contest is a pretty fierce one. There are more than a dozen other teams vying for the prize and they span a pretty wide range, from The Roller Bears (bears) and The Broomer Girls (witches) to The Ramblin' Rivets (robots) and The Cosmic Rays (aliens). The race takes the teams to such far flung locations as Transylvania, Loch Ness, the Gobi Desert and the Sargasso Sea, just to name a few

It's pretty silly stuff, as one might guess, unreeling at a frenetic pace that didn't do much for me all these years past my peak cartoon watching years. I'm not sure how I missed it back then but I suspect it might have been more appealing for me back in the day that it is now.

Observed: ???
Once again I haven't done my due diligence - as they say - and so I've forgotten exactly which episodes I watched. There were two and one had something to do with one of the Comets being enticed and distracted by a farmer's daughter, with the goal of throwing him off his game - or something like that.

I used the word "frenetic" once and I'll use it again. Nowadays I found the frantic pace to be a bit tiring. There are plenty of wacky gadgets trotted out along the way and a whole lot of scheming among the various teams to gain advantage and I couldn't help feeling that I was watching an amped up, animated version of the movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

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