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The Infernal Light Ed Friend

The Infernal Light

Ed Friend

Published 1966
127 pages
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 About the Book 

When is an adaptation not an adaptation? One answer is when novelizations of films and TV shows are begun during the filming, which is the usual practice. The writer is given reference, maybe a script, or in the case of a TV show, a description of the characters and setting, and sometimes little else. Films and TV shows change during production and post-production, but the novelization does not. That is manifestly true of this 1966 novelization of THE GREEN HORNET television series (1966-7). Richard Wormser, writing under his usual pseudonym of Ed Friend, does not so much get the series wrong as give an alternate, perhaps early version of it. Some things must have come from the series “bible,” such as the relationships between Brett Reid and the people who work for him, the Daily Sentinel newspaper running a TV station, and the way that the Hornet’s garage worked. Many details are different, however, such as giving the Hornet a standard garage door, the overuse of two of his gimmicks (the Sting and the Hornet Scanner, which seldom worked on the set and required work-arounds), and Kato’s complete lack of charm and personality. Wormser could not have known that the camera would love Bruce Lee, who would make the part seem larger than life even when the script gave him little to do. Kato is a cipher in this story, and barely uses what was then called Gung-Fu. He used it in every episode of the series.It is harder to know what to make of gimmicks such as the Hornet’s X-Ray flash light and the polarized lights in his car, The Black Beauty. They may have been in the show bible, but did not make it into the series. Wormser always drops the definite article from The Black Beauty, but the series used it as did every other incarnation of the characters I have seen.These are not bad things, though they work to the books disadvantage. What are bad are Wormser’s plodding style, the padding that begins on page 66 (as if Wormster counted words when he reached the half-way point of his outline and realized he would fall short of his contracted word count), a ridiculous ambition for the antagonist, an even more ridiculous plan for achieving it, and an ending that violates the size of the stories the series told and the way the Hornet and Kato operate.This is basically a one star book that was interesting enough from the POV is studying adaptation to rise to two.