Filmation children's television series which ran on Saturday mornings from 1975-1977 on CBS. Tiki God was obviously created to ride the coattails of other successful shows in the superhero genre such as Shazam!, but its offbeat nature (seen particularly in the "hollow earth" story arc that composed the last half of its second season) made it unique.

Andy found a temple
On vacation in Hawaii
With an aaaaaancient statue deep inside

Put on the strange medallion
Said the magic word, "Kahuna!"
And a legend rose up from the depths of Time!

Tiki God!
Tiki God!

In the pilot episode, young Andy Simmons (David Lawson) and his clueless, distracted archaeologist father Harvey (Hugh Tate) return to Hawaii where Andy's late mother was born. Andy hopes he and his dad will finally be able to spend some quality time together, but Professor Simmons announces that he'll be tied up with seminars and lectures at the University their entire trip. "Go find some playmates your own age," he urges. Billy slouches off angrily. Before he can get into some rock-throwing or convenience store-robbing acting out, Jack (Ken Matsumoto), his wise old Hawaiian maternal grandfather, appears and talks him down. "Things been hard on your pa ever since your mother died," he says. He suggests that exploring the caves near the foot of a nearby dormant volcano might take Andy's mind off things. (One wonders just how wise old Grandpa Jack really is, as he cheerfully sends minors off on solo spelunking expeditions.) "But don't go in too deep!" he calls after him.

Andy slouches down the beach and hikes up the volcano to the caves. As he shines his flashlight on some strange carvings he finds on the wall, the volcano rumbles and the ground shakes, throwing Andy to the floor. When he picks himself up he finds the cave bathed in an unearthly glow coming from a newly-opened fissure in the wall! Heedless of Grandpa Jack's warning he squeezes himself through the crack and enters a temple carved out of the living rock of the volcano. The fierce visages of ancient Hawiian gods glare from the walls, but Andy is irresistibly drawn toward a statue in the center of the room. The statue wears an ornate gold medallion on a chain which--naturally--he picks up and puts on. The ground shakes again, and Andy is forced to flee the temple before the fissure closes again.

Andy returns to the house to find Grandpa Jack being threatened by the evil Dr. Katanga (Robert Arnoisse) and his henchman Bruno (Sam Dunne). "Jumping lava rocks!" Andy says to himself, thus inaugurating the character's odd but admittedly memorable catchphrase. Katanga demands that Jack give him "the power of the kahuna." Andy whispers, "Kahuna?" Then, placing his hand on the medallion, says more strongly: "Kahuna!" There is a blaze of special effects, the drums from the theme song thunder on the soundtrack, and Andy is magically transformed into something that resembles a living Easter Island head--the supernatural hero TIKI GOD!

Using his powers, including a telekinetic ray which he uses to toss Bruno out the window and a stream of volcanic fire that shoot out of his forehead, Tiki God routs the bad guys before turning back into Andy. Grandpa Jack explains that Andy has inherited the "power of the kahuna" and must keep it safe from Dr. Katanga while using it to do good.

Thereafter the show followed young hero Andy, his friend Leilani (an island girl Andy's age, played by Amy Phan), and comic foils Professor Simmons and Grandpa Jack as they traveled around the world on various archaeology-motivated travels. Invariably they would encounter evil, which would be foiled by Tiki God's intervention. Andy and Leilani would then deliver the show's moral. ("Tiki God helped take care of those tomb robbers, but he can't help you live together in peace. You have to learn to do that.") Andy received supernatural counsel in ethical matters from the volcano goddess Pele (voiced by Eartha Kitt), who appeared to Andy in animated sequences. Dr. Katanga and Bruno also appeared in nearly every episode, constantly scheming to steal the medallion from Andy.

And so it went until the second half of the second season, when Professor Simmons disappeared mysteriously during a dig in South America. Upon investigating, the rest of the crew found a passageway leading deep into the Earth and into an entire science fictional world beneath the surface. After saving Professor Simmons from a Roman garrison (!) preserved in a "time vortex", Andy and co. traveled through this surreal landscape for the rest of the series, encountering strange tribes, lost civilizations, super-scientific menaces, and of course dinosaurs. At one point circumstances forced the Tiki gang and Katanga to call an uneasy truce. The unlikely addition of the series' villain (along with the ominous Bruno) to the party provided additional suspense to each encounter, as the viewer never knew if this would be the moment Katanga would break his word and betray them. Professor Simmons' repeated attempts to educate Bruno also provided some of the season's funnier moments.

While its numbers were respectable, the series did not match the success of Isis and Shazam! It was canceled and its time slot was filled by The New Adventures of Supergorilla.


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