1978’s Dr. Strange Is A Blast From Marvel’s Past

Considering the amount of hype currently swirling around Doctor Strange (we dug it), it’s unlikely that a single two-hour movie could possibly quench your thirst for Marvel’s latest superhero of the moment, even when you factor in all those repeat viewings. With that in mind, you might want to consider picking up Shout! Factory’s new DVD of Dr. Strange, the 1978 TV movie directed by seasoned television writer Philip DeGuere (Baretta, Magnum, P.I., the ’80s edition of The Twilight Zone) and starring Peter Hooten, the forgotten ’70s character actor best known for the pre-Tarantino version of The Inglorious Bastards.

Like a disproportionate percentage of ’70s TV (M*A*S*H, Emergency!, Quincy, M.E., Marcus Welby, M.D.), Dr. Strange revolves around a medical facility—but with a fantastical twist. “Nothing Stephen Strange learned in medical school could prepare him for an attack by an evil sorceress from the ‘fourth dimension,’” the DVD synopsis explains, before revealing the identity of this villain: Morgan le Fay. “Chosen by an ancient guardian of the spirit world to learn the mystic arts to defeat Morgan and safeguard the Earth, Stephen Strange must take the place of the Earth’s last sorcerer.”

Following in the footsteps of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Strange was created as a pilot for a potential CBS series. Unfortunately, when it aired on September 6, 1978, it had the incredibly bad fortune of being pitted against one of the biggest TV phenomena of all time. “I think that Dr. Strange would have done much better than it did in the ratings except that it aired opposite Roots,” Stan Lee told Comics Feature magazine back in the day. Nonetheless, he concluded that it turned out “fine,” unlike 1979’s Captain America and 1977’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which he describes as a “disappointment” and “a total nightmare” respectively.

In other words, if you’re craving an extra dose of Strange this weekend, be sure to pick up that new DVD.  For a sneak preview, check out the refreshingly lo-tech trailer below.