In the fall of 1966, prime time television came down with a severe case of Batman fever. ABC’s campy take on the cowl-clad comics hero was a laugh riot, and all things bat were suddenly very hip. After a few months of watching this Bat-mania sweep the country, the folks at CBS decided there was room on the airwaves for more than one silly superhero. Enter Mr. Terrific. (Incidentally, the folks at NBC had the same idea, leading to the creation of Captain Nice).
Stanley Beamish wasn’t any more superheroic than the rest of us—in fact, the mild-mannered gas station attendant was probably less so. But Stanley had one thing we didn’t: a constant supply of super-power-inducing “Power Pills.” The U.S. government’s Bureau of Secret Projects had developed the pills as a crime-fighting tool, but through testing, they discovered that normally heroic men simply got sick when the large power pill was ingested. To work properly, the pills had to be taken by “a weak and droopy daffodil” like Stanley. Actually, the pills would only work on Stanley, much to the bigwigs’ collective chagrin.
Stanley did his patriotic duty, popping the pills when his government needed him. To his friends (including best pal and fellow gas pumper Hal Walters), Stanley was still just plain old Stanley. But to BSP chief Barton J. Reed, Stanley was the caped wonder Mr. Terrific—a man of super strength, various powers, and even the ability to fly (though he had to flap his arms to do it).
There was a catch, however: the pills only lasted an hour. Forgetful guy that he was, Stanley often found himself in exactly the wrong place when his super powers wore off, and much comedy ensued. The pills could only be taken once a day, but in a pinch, a pair of booster pills would give Mr. Terrific an extra twenty minutes of power.
Mr. Terrific debuted in January of 1967 and was gone by that fall, but it wasn’t without its fans. Unfortunately, the fact that Stanley got his power from drugs made Mr. Terrific a bit of an outcast in syndication. A few episodes were edited into the TV movie The Pill Caper, but the full run of Mr. Terrific remains a largely forgotten testament to the influence of one very silly man-bat and his trusty Boy Wonder.
USA / CBS / 13×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 9 January – 28 August 1967
Stephen Strimpell as Stanley Beemish
Dick Gautier as Hal Waters
John McGiver as Barton J. Reed
Paul Smith as Henley Trent
Ned Glass as Dr. Reynolds
Ellen Corby as Hal’s mother