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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Abel & Bobby & Other Things

Early yesterday morning Decades Television aired the Steve Canyon episode OPERATION BIG THUNDER, that introduced Abel Fernandez, Bob Hoy, Ted de Corsia and Jerry Paris in the series.

Lt. Colonel Steve Canyon, Major Williston, Master Sgt. Maconochie,  Sgt. Pete Berger and Airman 1C Abel Featherstone ponder a serious issue at Big Thunder Air Force Base.

So last month Abel Fernandez's 2nd year passing memorial slipped right by me...but better late than never (as Abel would sometimes say). Abel you are missed.


Abel's headstone at Riverside National Cemetary. Big thanks to Barbara Lima for this image!

I should have done something for both Abel and Bobby Hoy for Memorial Day but I'll just have to shoot for next year. Two of the greatest (and funniest) guys around. We had a blast recording their commentaries here! Coffee and sinkers just about blew our budget!

Bob Hoy, me (John Ellis) and Abel Fernandez clowning (after a commentary recording session) in my back yard Friday March 20, 2009. Less than a year later Bob would leave us on Monday February 8, 2010. We miss you, Bobby!

So OPERATION BIG THUNDER is the "change of format" episode to appease the Air Force and the aircraft industry (who felt trivialized by fictionalizing their successes)...the Air Force was just upset in principle and thought they knew how to do it better than the professional filmmakers. They should have just left them alone to make a good show.  What they did do was excellent and if allowed to continue "on their own flight-path", I suspect they would have gone another season or two. 


From left, Ken Lynch, Jerry Paris (seated), Bob Hoy, Dean Fredericks and Abel Fernandez in the 17th Steve Canyon episode produced, OPERATION BIG THUNDER. Lynch and Bob Hoy appeared together in THE DEVIL IN THE DARK episode of the original Star Trek!

The roots of this episode were in the Steve Canyon newspaper comic strip in a story from 1956!

Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon daily from Saturday November 17, 1956, story arc titled "The Girl From Little Dogie", which introduced Poteet Canyon AND was also the story which this TV episode was loosely based (which only happened twice during the series run). Alas, we could have used a bit of Poteet in the TV series, don't ya think?

***

Wow! I just noticed something today that I hadn't before: that the first 4 episodes he's in have Abel's rank being Airman First Class (A/1C):


Abel wore these stripes in his first 4 episodes ...currently these are the stripes designated for "Senior Airman", but back in late 1958 this designated "Airman First Class". They had serious Air Force technical advisors on set (such as Col. Frank P. Ball) who watched goings on like hawks and kept things accurate and crew on their toes! (Ball was an F-102 expert and actually survived being at "ground-zero" during an atomic blast! See this link!

...but apparently he got promoted to Staff Sergeant for the last 3 episodes he was in:

USAF "Staff Sergeant" stripes, then and now (as worn by Abel in his final 3 episodes of STEVE CANYON!

...pretty cool, Abel!

Now, some things about DECADES airing the series. They ARE running them in order, BUT they are running them in the original NBC broadcast order instead of the order they were made, which throws the episodes STRIKE FORCE and IRON CURTAIN out of order once again...events in STRIKE FORCE take place immediately before IRON CURTAIN, but on Decades it will air 5 episodes later. Confusing? You bet.

Also, as is customary they are cutting out 3 minutes of each episode to make room for commercials. They are doing a pretty good job as the cuts are barely noticable (even to me), but if you want to see the shows uncut (and in the proper order and in the highest quality), I refer you to our 3 volume COMPLETE STEVE CANYON ON TV DVDs.

15 episodes have aired so far; 19 more to go. It's exciting seeing them on TV again in the United States for the first time in 58 years...I'm certain that the cast and crew and everyone involved in the series would be proud...and especially Milton Caniff. If you are watching Steve Canyon on Decades we'd like to hear from you, and we'd also like you to let Decades know you are watching and what you think. You can find them on Facebook at: