Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979) TV Special Review

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool,

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While I gave mixed reviews to Captain America (1979) the TV pilot special, Captain America II: Death Too Soon holds up a little better.  It also has an ominous title considering this is the last time we would ever see the Reb Brown version of Captain America again but (spoiler alert) Captain America doesn't die.

In this TV movie special, Captain America is in his (mostly) classic uniform aside from the obvious motorcycle helmet.  He continues his adventure from the first Captain America special so we get to skip all the origin stuff.  If you want to know the origin of the 1970s TV Cap then read the last episode review.

Fear not, even though Reb Brown wrecked, ran off a cliff, blew up, and burned down his conversion van about three times in the pilot episode it's back for part 2... and this time Captain America has a cat with him too.

This episode, like the first one, continued the formulaic 1970s TV action adventure style. The 1970s action-adventure formula was pretty simple.  I assume that TV writers hated doing superhero properties and thought, "Yuk, comic books." but a job is a job.  So, here is what I imagine happens- a television writer gets the project.  He puts the superhero in costume inside the first ten minutes of the show.  Then, he puts him in at the end of the show.  In the middle, they write the action-adventure series they really wanted to write.  That's why most of these 1970s made for TV movies are so boring because, to the Hollywood writers, the thing people want to see isn't Captain America riding his motorcycle and smacking people with his shield, what we really want to see is a boring and predictable detective series about a surfer dude and his van riding up and down the west coast solving a mystery and in this one they throw in a cat too.

The plot of Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979) is as follows:  Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) is sketching a portrait of a Mrs. Shaw (Susan French), who complains to him about a gang of muggers who have been stealing the proceeds from cashed Social Security checks.  Yes, it is as corny as it sounds and serves no real story purpose other than to get Captain America in uniform inside the first fifteen minutes. 

Steve Rogers then sets a trap for the muggers, and springs into action as Captain America, recovering the old ladies purse, riding his awesome super motorcycle and throwing a bad guy into the sea.  This has nothing to do with the rest of the story. 

While Captain America is running around saving old ladies pension checks, a free-lance revolutionary terrorist calling himself General Miguel (Christopher Lee), is planning a terrorist attack to extort money from the government.  Miguel kidnaps Professor Ian Ilson (Christopher Cary) and forces him to resume his research in manipulative gerontology. Ilson has managed to formulate both a chemical that accelerates aging and the antidote to the same chemical, and Miguel, posing as the warden of a prison in Oregon near Portland, plans to use the chemicals in question to hold Portland hostage for a multimillion-dollar ransom.

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Have you been denied your social security benifits?  Then call Captain America at 1-800-WHAT-DOES-THIS-HAVE-TO-DO-WITH-THE-PLOT.

Ultimately Rogers and Miguel slug it out and when Miguel throws a glass bottle of the aging accelerant into the air, hoping it will shatter against Captain America's body, the Captain throws his shield into the air, where it shatters the bottle in such a manner that the aging accelerant splashes the both. However, as the Captain only received a minor amount and only ages a month. Miguel, on the other hand, ages him to death in less than a minute.  There was also a sweet and seemingly never-ending hang glider chase in there somewhere too.

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At least in this special we got Captain America and his motorcycle a lot more frequently than in the first special.

An overall pretty decent episode that was at least as good in quality as the 1970s Incredible Hulk television show.  It's too bad we never got to see them team-up or face off.  Again, as I said when reviewing the first special, this was essentially the Six Million Dollar Man dressed as Captain America.

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Here we see the Six Million Dollar Man... er I mean, Captain America leaping into action.

The television show, as we all now know, was not picked up for a full television series.  Again, you might hear how awful these 1970s Captain America movies were but truthfully they weren't substantially that much worse than any other 1970s action adventure series and I enjoyed this special more than quite a few episodes of The Incredible Hulk which ran for five seasons.  I have a Patreon only podcast special on this episode which you can listen to- here.

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Captain America also fought dogs in this episode so there's that.

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