One Punch Wolfson

(Air date: January 16th 1978)

“One Punch” Wolfson!

Full Recap: (Spoilers Ahead)

Lucan’s at a Jeweler in Detroit. He believes that a watch engraved with the name “Sam Williamson, 1960” may be his father or someone who knew him. Unfortunately, Williamson’s in the Australian Outback. But that doesn’t deter Lucan. A group of guys come in. They smash up the place, steal and take Lucan’s watch off the Jeweler. Lucan’s warned not to “be a hero.”

Lucan chases them to a long alley. The Jeweler calls a Detective Lansing and he’s soon on everyone’s tail. Lucan goes into wolf mode and yells and roars at the thieves. They fight, but Lucan gets them down, without causing much damage.

The Jeweler clears Lucan of wrongdoing and Detective Lansing tries to convince Lucan to earn real money boxing. Lucan plainly tells him, “I don’t like to fight.”

Lansing persists and promises to set Lucan up with a private investigator to search for Williamson. Lucan’s desperate so he agrees, even though the  P.I. charges an exorbitant $1000 retainer and hundred a day expenses. Lucan calls Don Hoagland and asks to borrow $1500. Don readily agrees, but Lucan doesn’t tell him how he’ll manage to pay him back.

Lucan meets a crotchety old gym manager named Drummond. He turns out to be working with Lansing and Murdoch. They make bets and trump criminal charges in order to blackmail boxers into rigged fights. Once such boxer was a black ex-champ named Spider Caldwell. He’s a hero to the local kids, but ashamed of his actions. He’d sold his soul for money.  “I hunted for the green instead of the glory.”

Spider becomes fast friends with Lucan and trains him. Lucan has a unique style in the ring. Rather than punch right away, he swiftly blocks and ducks and allows the other fighters to expend all their energy. When it comes time for a knockout, he does it in one punch. Lucan tells the manager his name’s Lucan Wolfson. So they play on the gimmick and bill him, “Kid, ‘One Punch’ Wolfson.”

While in a practice bout, Lucan remembers his childhood at the University and how other kids taunted and pushed him on the floor. He was later disciplined by Dr. Don Hoagland. “Fighting is wrong.” Hoagland says firmly. “I was trapped.” Lucan insists. And the camera does quick, surreal cuts – “Wrong.” “Trapped.” “Wrong.” “Trapped.” “Wrong.” “Trapped.”

Lucan rises to fame as every boxer goes down for the count. The current champion, Joe ‘Tiger’ Pardee, demands to fight him in a sensational match. Hoagland finds out that Lucan’s boxing to earn the money and he travels to Detroit. He’s furious at the Private Investigator for stringing Lucan along when he already knows the owner of the watch is not Lucan’s father.

Lucan agrees to fight Pardee, but there’s a catch. He must take a dive in the 10th round. Spider’s threatened with a false drug charge if he fails to convince him, but Lucan stands his ground. “I don’t like to fight, but I’m not losing on purpose!”  Spider’s wife agrees with Lucan and derides Spider for his past actions and letting these crooks get the better of him. They’d nearly ruined his life.

Meanwhile, Bounty Hunter Prentiss watches a sports clip featuring ‘Wolfson’ and his rise to fame and immediately continues his ‘wolf’ hunt. Don talks Lucan out of fighting Tiger, but is later kidnapped. Lucan has no choice but to fight. Prentiss is given the runaround by Detective Lansing, and when he gets suspicious he’s thrown in jail on a false drug charge. Lucan visits his cell and Prentiss tells him to call his attorney friend to release him. But once they find Hoagland, Lucan belongs to him. Before Lucan can make the call, Detective Lansing gives him a final warning about Dr. Hoagland.

Lucan allows himself to get pummeled in a dramatic ten bout fight. Spider wants to help him so he runs to save Hoagland. When Lucan realizes he’s not hurt, he summons up strength and knocks out Tiger. At the arena, Detective Lansing and P.I. Drummond corner Lucan, Spider, and Dr. Hoagland with a gun, but the police arrive. Spider feels triumphant again and he air-boxes in the empty ring to an imaginary cheering crowd. Lucan calls Prentiss’ attorney. But he can’t be released until morning, which buys Lucan time to escape.

My Verdict:

Many anthology shows in the late seventies and early eighties turned to one of the best boxing inspirations  – The original Rocky film. Lucan’s no exception. The boxing manager yells insults like Burgess Meredith and the background music offers shades of the Rocky theme.

“One Punch Wolfson” offers more insights into Lucan’s character. We learn his attitude toward fighting and his feelings about race. Skin color doesn’t matter. (See quotes.) There hasn’t been much research done on wolves, but they may be partially colorblind due to only having red and blue photo receptors in their eyes. Humans have red, blue and green. So that could be part of the joke when Lucan responds, “I don’t think so” when asked if he was colorblind.

As in the previous episode, when Lucan growls and yells, there is no voice manipulation to make him sound like a real wolf. It brings the point home that he’s still a human displaying wolf-traits.

The only slight distraction are the cutaway inserts of his red eyes, you can tell they are footage from a different episode. I don’t blame them, those eye contacts in the seventies hurt like crazy, and there’s a budget to keep. I’m not big on sports, and I feel that a lot of the “Boxing” episodes on TV recycle plots. This one had a twist with making the heroic boxer a black man and having Dr. Hoagland kidnapped. Most of the action was kept in the ring, so those who like boxing would find this a solid entry in the series.

Episode Quotes:

Lucan: “I was raised by wolves.”

Spider: “I can dig it. Down in the jungle, the Ghetto is full of animals. Wolves, sharks, wild dogs, you need to learn to become one or else you get eaten alive.”

Spider: (Offering Lucan a handshake and an extra room at his apartment.) “You ain’t gotta worry man, it doesn’t rub off on the sheets.”

Lucan: “What doesn’t rub off?

Spider: “The color, baby.”

Lucan: (Looks at his own hand) “Neither does mine.”

Spider: You’re really color blind, man.”

Lucan: (Grabs Spider’s hand in a gesture of friendship.) “I don’t think so.”

Don tells Lucan to forget about the $1500 loan: “Forget the whole thing. It’s against everything you ever learned. Everything I ever tried to teach you.”

Lucan: “You also taught me that a man has to pay his own way in this world and that’s important to me too.”

Lucan (Consoling Spider): “Just because you threw a fight once, that doesn’t mean you can’t believe in yourself anymore.”