Don’t get me wrong. I loved directing Kung Fu the Legend Continues. I loved working with David Carradine. I directed over a dozen of the shows over the years, and mostly it was great fun. But one thing was bothering me.
At the time I was a coxswain on the Coast Guard Auxiliary rescue boat out of Gibsons Landing, where we had our home. There were several coxswains for the “rubber duck” as we called the Zodiac rescue boat, and we took the job seriously, training on search patterns and boat handling. While I was in Toronto directing Kung Fu the Legend Continues, one of my fellow coxswains was killed in a bar fight. Apparently words led to a meeting in the parking lot, and a young man who had been studying karate kicked him in the head and killed him.
This was a tragedy in all directions. The man who died was a father of young children. The man who killed him will go through life knowing that a stupid bar fight resulted in the death of a man who should have been his friend. One life lost, one life ruined.
So there I was in Toronto, making a show that said you can punch and kick and hit a man all you want and you won’t do serious damage unless you shoot him or stab him. And my friend was dead. I told this to the executive producer, Michael Sloan, and suggested that we should do a show that presents the dangers of martial arts. Maybe one of Caine’s students kills somebody by accident, and Caine has to go to court to defend the idea of teaching martial arts.
They considered it. And they rejected it. They’d just done a courtroom drama, based on the classic “Twelve Angry Men” movie. They didn’t see another way to present the concept. So no. I didn’t press the issue.
At the time, Kung Fu the Legend Continues was getting 45 million viewers a week. The show was heavy on fantasy, spirit traveling, Chinese themed (though not very accurate) mysticism. It was comic book stuff, and I’m pretty sure that, given some authority, I would have put the show in the toilet in a couple of episodes. Just one of the many reasons why television directing and Zale Dalen was not a good fit. I can see that now.