Cult TV Essentials

Cult TV Essentials: The Highwayman

highway manThere is a world, just beyond now, where reality runs a razor thin seam between fact and possibility; where the laws of the present collide with the crimes of tomorrow. Patrolling these vast outlands is a new breed of lawman, guarding the fringes of society’s frontiers, they are known simply as ‘Highwaymen’… and this is their story..

Created by Glen A. Larson and Douglas Heyes, The Highwayman starred Sam J. Jones as Highway, a law-man from an dystopian “near future.” It ran from September 20th 1987 until May 6th 1988. Following the pilot movie it lasted for nine episodes.

As mentioned Sam. J. Jones played The Highwayman, and “Highway” was portrayed as more mysterious than any of the other Highwaymen with his real name never being revealed. Alongside Jones was Mark “Jacko” Jackson as Jetto, Jane Badler as Ms. Tania Winthrop, Tim Russ as D.C. Montana, William Conrad as the Narrator (uncredited), Claudia Christian as Dawn (pilot only) and Stanford Egi as Master Toto (pilot only).

In the 1987 Pilot: Terror on the Blacktop, we discover that Highway drives a large, black, computerized truck with a bullet-shaped cabin, which is the nose of a concealed helicopter which can detach from the rest of the truck. The truck can also operate in “stealth mode” to become invisible. A concealed futuristic sports car can emerge from the truck’s rear. Some elements of the futuristic dashboard design were apparently re-used from Knight Rider.

After the 1987 pilot film, only Jones returned for the weekly series. The retooling of the premise eliminated the truck’s stealth mode, which was never mentioned again. The Highwayman was joined by a new sidekick, Australian outback survival expert Jetto,  the Highwayman’s boss, Ms. Tania Winthrop, and D.C. Montana, who was responsible for the maintenance and modifications to the vehicles. The show was also filmed entirely on location in the American Southwest.

After Jetto’s truck, which was identical to the Highwayman’s, was destroyed in the first episode, “Road Ranger”, he is given his own, unique truck, the front half of which can separate into a futuristic car. The truck was later used in the first episode of Power Rangers: Time Force.

Although the organization shares elements with that of F.L.A.G. (the Foundation for Law and Government) from Knight Rider, it shares more with the mysterious “Firm” from the original three seasons of Airwolf. The exact organization that the Highwayman and Jetto work for is never revealed in any great depth. Highwaymen seem to have extra-legal powers that occasionally cause conflict with the local police.

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