SCOTT BAIO: MASTER OF MEN

When I first saw Zapped!, my friend Bill Emery taped it off of HBO and we would watch it over and over and over again. Was it the acting stylings of Willie Aames? The comic contributions of Scatman Crothers? No...most certainly it was Scott Baio!

Using "Joanie Loves Chachi" as a launching pad, Scott shot for the big time with this film, that repeats the age old tale of a boy who gets telekinetic powers and uses them to make girls clothes fly off.

Billed as "The Comedy That Wont Let You Down", this 1982 film, sadly, wasn't nominated for a single Oscar. Not even a Best Supporting Actress for Heather Thomas (who has a "nude" shot in the movie, but the closing credits insist "Heather Thomas did not appear nude in this film, and a body double was used"). Yeah, wouldn't want that TJ Hooker ho to be thought badly of.

(As a side note: Willie Aames was actually nominated for the "Worst Actor" award in the 1983 Razzies, for this film. What were they thinking?)

Baio is screwing around in a chemistry lab at high school (where they always leave kids unsupervised to make weird stuff) and somehow gets telekinesis. He uses it to win money at a gambling party, screw up a rollercoaster, and best of all, make every girl's dress fly off at his Senior Prom.

This movie was important, not only for great scriptwriting, but for spawning the lifelong friendship between "Eight is Enough" wunderkind Willie Aames and Baio, that would continue through many wonderful episodes of the syndicated masterpiece "Charles in Charge."

When asked what he thought of the film, Aames replied, "I'll sleep with you for 5 bucks, brother, come on, give a guy a break!"

Scatman Crothers is great as a Janitor who befriends the psychic Baio in his time of need. Much like the role he played when he befriends the psychic boy in "The Shining", but instead of getting an axe in his belly from Jack Nicholson, he gets high when somebody throws a bunch of pot into the high school incinerator (didn't your high school have one of those).

Zapped! Is clearly one of America's greatest films, but oddly it's not yet been released on DVD. Perhaps the powers that be will come to their senses and right that wrong.

Meanwhile, look for Scott in "Joanie Loves Chachi: The Next Generation". Willie Aames is still lobbying for an "Eight is Enough" Reunion sequel, and Scatman Crothers is dead.

So do yourself a favor and see the classic film, today...you'll be glad you did! And all hail the power that is Baio!

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

 

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