8 muckraking facts about the 'Swamp Thing' TV series
Batman and Wonder Woman aren't the only DC Comics heroes with adventures on the small screen.
Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman may get most of the attention, but they were not the only DC Comics heroes to grace the small screen with their own live-action television series back in the day.
The Swamp Thing character first appeared in the July 1971 issue of the House of Secrets comic, issue No. 92. A year later, the big green guy was starring in his own comic series, helmed by his creators, writer Len Wein and artist Berni Wrightson. With his ecological origins and dark vibe, Swamp Thing was a perfect antihero for the socially conscious comic books of the era.
A decade later, he had his own Hollywood movie. Then, a decade after that, Swamp Thing: The Series was premiering on television. The show kicked off on the USA Network in July 1990. Here are some things you might not know about the show.
1. The costume weighed 80 pounds.
Dick Durock was the man inside the rubber suit. A veteran stuntman, the then 53-year-old had little to none lead acting experience. He joked that he got the role because he was willing to wear the bulky suit for hours upon hours each day.
2. Dick Durock formerly played another green monster on 'The Incredible Hulk.'
Durock had experience with green makeup and comic book monsters, albeit on a Marvel show. He faced off against Lou Ferrigno in the two-part Incredible Hulk episode "The First," which originally aired in 1981. The plot revolves around David Banner's encounter with another, earlier "Hulk"!
3. Durock also played Swamp Thing in the movies.
Horror master Wes Craven directed the 1982 Swamp Thing feature film. The flick took the character fairly seriously. On the other hand, The Return of Swamp Thing, which followed seven years later, went straight for camp. Heather Locklear earned a Razzie Award for her work in the sequel, though Roger Ebert did give it a thumbs up. In all live-action incarnations, Durock was the man in the costume.
Image: Embassy Pictures
4. Mark Lindsay Chapman almost played Data on 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'
Sporting an enviable mane of hair, Chapman chews up the scenery on Swamp Thing as the villainous Dr. Anton Arcane. The actor almost landed another gig light years away. He was up for the role of the android Data aboard the Enterprise-D, and the decision reportedly came down to Chapman and Brent Spiner.
5. The budget was cut in half for the third season.
According to a quote from producer Tom Greene on the Arcane Knowledge Swamp Thing fan site, the original cost per episode was a respectable $600,000. After the second season, the production budget was gashed, cut down to $300,000 per episode. They spared no expense on the hairstyling, however.
6. Kari Wuhrer was a famous MTV VJ.
Wuhrer got her break on the MTV game show Remote Control, which also helped launch the career of Adam Sandler. If you grew up in the late-'80s, early-'90s, there's a good chance you had a crush on Wuhrer.
7. The show was filmed at the Universal Studios Florida theme park.
Producers do not go out of their way to hide this fact. The Jaws ride was used for the set of Arcane Industries, while the Back to the Future ride can be seen in the episode "Tatania." The show shot around the Orlando area, as well, including another theme park, Gatorland.
8. At one point, 'Swamp Thing' was the highest rated show on the USA Network.
These days, the cable channel is earning Emmy nominations for prestige programming like Mr. Robot. It's good to remember their roots. Literally. Swamp Thing is made out of tree roots. Okay, we'll stop now.