Retro Nerd Alert No. 2: Bob Wilkins Interviews Star Wars' C-3PO on Captain Cosmic
Bob Wilkins was in an awesome position at KTVU in the late 1970s. Because Creatures Features and his Star Trek specials were so successful, the management pretty much gave him a blank check to produce whatever he wanted. Granted, the checking account only had a few hundred dollars in it, but what's important is that he had creative freedom -- and thus, the kiddie show Captain Cosmic was born.
Featuring the best and worst of international sci-fi movies and serials, Captain Cosmic ran weekday afternoons at 4:30 (right before The Bionic Hour!). Mind you, this was while Bob was hosting Creature Features on Friday and Saturday nights, and a weekly horror show for KTXL in Sacramento.
The character Captain Cosmic was good ol' hyper-genteel Bob himself in a goofy yet very cool costume. In the intro -- which uses David Matthews' disco remix of the Star Wars theme, no doubt totally with permission -- the Captain lifts cars, flies over The Pointy Building, and even outruns a BART train.
Before home video, seeing clips from your favorite movies on television was terribly exciting, and we didn't care a whit that the quality was lo-fi. In this 1978 episode, Captain Cosmic gives the Star Wars folks some sugar, and he brings back good memories for his trusty constant companion, Wonder Robot 2T2.
Wilkins' cred meant he could get bigger names than would normally appear on a local kiddie show, such as Anthony "C-3PO" Daniels, who talks about shooting the upcoming Star Wars Holiday Special. Even though we know how it turned out, he makes it sound awesome, doesn't he? The British accent helps, admittedly.
Daniels tells of Star Wars superfans asking him to explain plot holes. This is what nitpickers had to resort to before the Internet.
One October show, Captain Cosmic and 2T2 discuss the number of restrooms at the Winchester Mystery House, and the Captain explains Halloween to 2T2 via footage of elementary school students wearing their costumes. I also offer this as an off-season explanation of why, as a 5-year-old in 1978, I hated Halloween and resented being forced to dress up. I mean, look at those things. A smock with a picture of the character, and a cheap, grotesque plastic mask? I had my dignity, y'know.
Inevitably, the grind of doing so many shows per week got to Bob. In 1979 he left Creature Features (replaced by John Stanley), Captain Cosmic went off the air in 1980, and Wilkins even left his "Oh, you're still doing that one, too?" show on KXTL in 1981.
But our love for Bob Wilkins continues to this day. Fly on, Captain Cosmic. Fly on. (For more about Bob and local TV hosts from back in the day, check out Michael Monahan's essential Shock It to Me: Golden Ghouls of the Golden Gate.)