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Series / The Fall Guy

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"I might jump an open drawbridge
or Tarzan from a vine
'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman
That makes Eastwood look so fine!"
— "The Unknown Stuntman", sung by Lee Majors

The Fall Guy, (1981-1986), was an Action Series and an early example of the genre's popularity in The '80s. It grants the people who do the dangerous stuff on set their well-deserved limelight, and while it's at it, it takes the occasional chance to lampoon Hollywood and also allows for loads of Cameos. It was created by Glen A. Larson, who also served as executive producer, was produced by Glen A. Larson Productions and 20th Century Fox (this was his first series he didn't do at Universal), and ran on ABC from 1981-86.

The main characters:

  • Colt Seavers (Lee Majors) is an experienced Hollywood stuntman who discovered that life in Southern California, moreso in Hollywood, is too expensive to afford as just a fall guy, so he moonlights as a Bounty Hunter. He spends most of the time of an episode hunting criminals who were bailed out, escaped, got back into crime, and defend themselves against whoever wants to take them back to jail with deadly force. Lee Majors also sings the theme song (he also performs it on camera in one episode).
  • Jody Banks (Heather Thomas) is probably one of Hollywood's hottest stuntwomen. She was the only other member of Colt's stunt team before Howie showed up.
  • Howie "Kid" Munson (Douglas Barr) is Colt's little cousin. He had about a zillion jobs, none for longer than a year, before he came to Hollywood to try his hand at being a stuntman together with Colt, much to the latter's dismay. He also tries to hit on Jody, much to her dismay.
  • Terri Shannon (Markie Post) is the bail bondswoman who assigns Colt most of his cases. In the first season the role was filled by Samantha "Big Jack" Jack (Jo Ann Pflug). Terri, in turn, was replaced in the final season by Pearl Sperling (Nedra Volz) after Post left to play Christine Sullivan on Night Court. After a few episodes, Pearl was replaced by Edmund Trench (Robert Donner).

What the show really is famous for is the car chases which always include Colt's truck doing a Ramp Jump and lots of wreckage.

No relation to Fall Guys.

The Fall Guy provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Jody.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In the very first line of the show's theme song "The Unknown Stuntman" (sung by Lee Majors himself): "Well, I'm not the kind to kiss and tell, but I've been seen with Farrah..." Majors was married to Farrah Fawcett early in the show. In fact, in the pilot Colt has to act as Farrah Fawcett's stunt double, complete with poofy blond wig.
    • In one episode, Colt uses a small catapult to jump over a fence in much the same way Lee Majors (or rather his stuntman) simulated bionic jumping as Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man.
    • In the episode "The Last Drive", directed by Ted Lange, the director has a cameo as a bartender, complete with the uniform he wore on The Love Boat. Colt at first does a double-take, then asks if the boat sailed without him.
  • Awkwardly-Placed Bathtub: Colt has his outside in front of his house.
  • Bounty Hunter: Colt's second job.
  • Boxing Episode: "TKO", which features several boxing legends as themselves: Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Bobby Chacon and Larry Holmes, and also ringside announcer Jimmy Lennon.
  • The Cameo: Lots. Most notably, Elvira who develops a major crush on Colt.
  • Captain Crash: As a stuntman, Colt seems to be so used to crashing vehicles at high speed as part of a stunt that he can't drive them halfway safely at high speed anymore. This becomes a problem whenever his second job as a Bounty Hunter requires him to chase an escaped criminal. It doesn't help that his own truck runs on suspensions that weren't exactly made for high speeds.
  • Chase Scene:
    • At least one (but preferably multiple) per episode.
    • Also, stock footage of chase scenes from various movies (such as Sky Ridersnote , The Cannonball Run note , Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry note  and others released by The Fall Guy makers 20th Century Fox) is incorporated into the opening credits.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of an episode, Colt has to do a stunt on set. He'll have to redo the same stunt later on while bounty-hunting.
  • Cool Car: Colt's GMC Sierra 4×4 pick-up truck. Two-tone paint job, rollbar, and a 6" bodylift that cost it its ability to corner but made one high jump per episode more credible.
  • Cool Old Lady: Pearl
  • Crossover: A two-parter started on The Fall Guy and concluded on the short-lived medical drama Trauma Center. Both programs were created and produced by Glen A. Larson and aired on ABC.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The scene (also shown in the intro sequence) in which Jody steps through a saloon door in a two-piece swimsuit, promptly ending a bar brawl.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: A Thematic Theme Tune sung by Lee Majors in his best Country Music croon. The Germans liked it enough for two different cover versions with German lyrics (the French version also differs).
  • Driving a Desk: Every episode included a lot of rear projection, and it wasn't hard to see the difference between the shots of someone actually driving a car, plane, or boat and the shots of Lee Majors pretending to drive them.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Yep. Especially Howie's cars.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: One episode had Colt interrogating a mook on a plane. When said mook wouldn't talk, Colt shoved him out of the plane and jumped after him. During their freefall, Colt showed the mook the altimeter on his wrist and said he had until they reached a certain height (when Colt would have open his chute) to talk. He talked.
  • I Minored in Tropology: A Running Gag with Howie who reveals each episode how he took a semester in the skill required for the situation at hand.
  • Jack of All Trades: Howie's redeeming quality, especially in early episodes, is that he's experienced in a gajillion jobs. While Colt is an expert in stunts and action scenes, Howie is an expert in everything else and then some.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Jody. Even her sole panel in MAD's satire "The Brawl Guy" pointed this out, having her in a bikini... in a supermarket during a chase. "Just showing some cheesecake!"
      Ricardo Montalban: (as a clerk) Cheesecake? You'll find that in frozen foods! Aisle seven!
    • Terri also had her fair share of bikini scenes just because.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Howie seems to mention his experience from yet another former job whenever it comes in handy.
  • Opening Narration: Colt gives one about the hard life of a stuntman in the first season.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Colt and Jody are even sharing the same house. The reason might be Hollywood housing costs.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: "Miami's Nice".
  • Ramp Jump: Pretty much required in any Chase Scene involving Colt's truck and the reason for its bodylift. The corresponding ramps appear in the weirdest places, but rarely in the audience's plain view.
  • Reset Button: Colt's truck seems to have one, for whenever Colt crashes it (and so he does frequently), it's always back as new in the next episode. On the other hand, whenever Howie manages to acquire a car, Colt always destroys it, and he doesn't have one anymore in the following episode.
  • Running Gag
    • Howie's previous jobs.
    • When Colt is sitting in his outdoor bathtub, someone calls him on the phone.
    • Howie buys a car, Colt wrecks it.
  • Stock Footage: The opening uses stunt clips from such movies as The Poseidon Adventure, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Silver Streak, and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. A lot of the episodes use stock footage for action scenes. One episode in particular uses the chase scene from Race with the Devil.
  • Stunt Double: In-Universe; the show is all about stuntpeople. In the pilot, Colt even has to double Lee Majors' real-life wife, Farrah Fawcett.
  • Sudden Name Change: Terri's surname changed from Shannon to Michaels in the third season.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Howie.
  • Undercrank: Had to be done in chase scenes because the bodylift on Colt's truck would have caused it to tip over in halfway fast corners.
  • Vanity License Plate: FALL GUY on Colt's truck.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Colt wrecks any car he borrows, especially whichever one Howie just bought. That is, he usually only borrows a car after having wrecked his truck.