In the 1950s, the new medium of television exploded across the American landscape, and producers hungry for material turned to the FVZA for inspiration. Numerous dramas featuring the Agency appeared in the early days of TV. The first of these to make a bona fide impact was McCullough, FVZA
, starring Reed Hadley in the title role. McCullough began each show with a stentorian voice-over outlining the case and closing with the signature line, "My name is Roy McCullough; I hunt vampires and zombies." The character of McCullough, with his stiff, humorless manner, represented the public perception of what an FVZA agent was like.
A more accurate portrayal could be found in The Agency
, starring Robert Taylor as head of the FVZA office in Los Angeles (full disclosure: Yours Truly served as a consultant to the show). The hour-long drama used real FVZA cases as its inspiration. In an America torn by social change and the Vietnam War, the agents of the show were seen by many as a throwback to a better time. The Agency
ran from 1959 to 1966, during which it was one of the highest-rated shows on television.
In the latter half of the 1960s. the emphasis on FVZA-related shows shifted from realistic drama to thrills and chills in the form of weekly horror anthologies. The best of these was Night Shift
, hosted by Boris Karloff. Night Shift
featured a different movie every week, each with provocative titles like Zombie Hell!
and Vampire Siege!
The show served as a training ground for many Hollywood directors and stars, and was resuscitated and updated by HBO in the early 1990s.
|Chase & Dowd|
As memories of vampires and zombies faded, dramas and horror shows were replaced by comedies. One of the top shows of the 1970s was Boo!
, in which Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker played a pair of bumbling agents who solved cases against the backdrop of a persistent laugh track. The FVZA also served as fodder for interoffice romance. A notable example was Chase & Dowd
, starring Wayne Rogers and Dianne Ladd as a pair of FVZA gumshoes tracking the undead amid an atmosphere of unfulfilled romantic tension. The shows ratings plummeted after Chase and Dowd became lovers.
Over the last 20 years, the FVZA has virtually disappeared from television. Apparently, shows with characters who display bravery, high moral standards and selflessness don't appeal to today's TV producers. And so, instead of realistic shows about the FVZA, we get trash like UPN's recent Uncle Zed
, a sitcom about a zany family of zombies. While that show met a swift demise (in part thanks to a boycott I helped organize, but mostly due to bad writing), you can be sure that these geniuses will come up with more shows to offend those of us who lived through the plague. It's only a matter of time before a loveable family of vampires shows up on prime time. I only wish the producers of these shows could talk to people who lost loved ones to the undead. Then they'd pull the plug on these offensive shows immediately.
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