The writer that Gen X forgot

On March 28, 2014 we lost a writer whose career was familiar to most members of Gen X, even if they didn’t know his name – Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

1966–68 Batman (tv series)

Much has already been written regarding the cultural influence and impact of the 1960’s Batman tv series. Thanks to his work, an entire generation now had a touchstone for the moment their teacher introduced the concept of onomatopoeia. My friends and I took to calling them “batman words” and frequently incorporated them into the various types of imaginative play common among 9 year-olds that occurred during the summer and on weekends during the school year. More than the typical, “bang”, “pow”, “pew” of different types of hand guns, or “zzzeeoooo” for a laser blaster, our vocabulary grew to find the right sounds for a LEGO Galaxy Explorer swooping in to take out an enemy base, or the appropriate assemblage of crunch, crack, and smash sounds for a karate kick breaking through a reinforced wall  (a cardboard box for the new refrigerator the neighbors bought).

Thank you, Mr. Semple, for guiding us in developing the soundtrack of our own action sequences.

Flash … aaahhh

Everyone knows it’s corny, it’s cheesy, it’s got a horrible lead actor supported by major talent (Brain Blessed, Timothy Dalton, Max Von Sydow), but if you weren’t there to experience this when it hit the screens as a kid, I won’t be able to convince you that this was an an epic space opera.

Thank you, Mr. Semple, for combining cheese and action in a way that still entertains.

Are you paranoid enough?

As Gen X grew older we discovered that our mistrust of corporations and government had already been written about. Thanks to the advent of VCRs we could rent these two classics to fuel and reinforce our fears. 

1975 – Three Days of the Condor

1974 – Parallax View (check out TNR episode 23  – wait? epsiode 23? am I being paranoid?)

Thank you, Mr. Semple, for confirming our suspicions.

Bond once again

Despite his vow to never return to the role of James Bond, Sean Connery returned for one final Bond film, Never Say Never Again. The film has an interesting history and is one of the few Bonds produced outside of EON productions. In addition to relieving Bond fans of the tedium of another Roger Moore film,  Never Say Never Again introduced us to Kim Bassinger and adolescent boys in the early 80’s were thankful.


Thank you, Mr. Semple, for giving us our own James Bond film and including a sequence with a video game that zaps you when you lose points. We all thought that was cool.

Dude, that’s one big monkey

Finally, we need to recognize that before Peter Jackson dropped his epic King Kong, there was a smaller version set in the 1970’s starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. There’s a lot of reason to forget this version, but in the mid–70’s it was the chance to remake a classic and bring it up to date with new special effects. Semple’s script combines classic elements of the Kong story with mid 70’s sensibilities. It was a powerful experience for this young filmgoer, and one that I kept referring back to as I watched Jackson’s 2005 version.

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(L to R: Rene Auberjonois, Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Ed Lauter)  Faces that we would become familiar with as we were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s

Thank you, Mr. Semple, for taking on such a large task.

While these films are not the ones that most readily come to mind when thinking about growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, they have endured and left their mark on a generation.

Mr. Semple, for your work that entertained us while we were growing up, we thank you.  Generation X