Wednesday, July 5, 2017

That Time I Found The Quadrovelocipede from Legend

When most people hear that I'm a fan of Legend, they think I'm talking about something else. I can't really blame them. My version of Legend only lasted for 12 episodes, which first aired more than 20 years ago, on a network that no longer exists. The show is all-but forgotten. Indeed, although it was (amazingly) released on DVD last year, they had to change the theme music and some other musical cues for legal reasons, and I doubt it's sold especially well (Indeed, the DVD link in this sentence was found on the ninth page of search results for the name "Legend" on Barnes and Noble, after already filtering for "Movies and TV," under the "Top Results" sorting!). So I don't really expect people to quite understand how it is that the impossible happened last week. But first, some context.

Official publicity photo featuring Richard
Dean Anderson and John DeLancie.
Legend was a western that starred Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver and Stargate: SG1) and John DeLancie (various Star Trek franchises from The Next Generation to Voyager). Anderson played a 19th century dime novelist pushed into adopting the role of the hero he created, through a combination of pressure from his publisher and a series of events initiated by a Hungarian scientist (played by DeLancie). You can find out more at some old blog entries I wrote when I was doing Transforming Seminarian. For now, let's get into some behind-the scenes details.

Legend was filmed in Arizona, mostly at a combination of the Old Tucson movie studios and a newer facility in Mescal. I had thought to visit Old Tucson for many years, but never actually bothered to do so until I learned that my parents would be going through the area on their way to California from Kentucky for a month-long vacation. I arranged to meet them in Arizona, with plans to visit Old Tucson the next day. Sadly, we learned that Mescal is not open to the public during the summer, and that Old Tucson itself is only open to the public on weekends, and my parents' travel plans dictated that Thursday was the only day available to visit Old Tucson. So we decided to swing by and see what we could see, even knowing we wouldn't be able to enter the actual studio set. Looking over the fences, we managed to catch a glimpse of the Reno, a 19th century locomotive engine that featured in many movies and television shows over a period of many decades. This engine appeared in the third episode of Legend ("Legend on His President's Secret Service"), possibly one of its final appearances before being all-but destroyed in a fire that destroyed much of Old Tucson in 1995 (before Legend had even wrapped up production). Thankfully, Will Smith (yes, that Will Smith!) arranged for a cosmetic reconstruction of the engine for its brief appearance in Wild Wild West, enabling us to see the Reno that day.

Having seen what little we could at Old Tucson, we found ourselves with some extra time to kill while still in the Tucson area, and my mom had grabbed a few flyers of Tucson-area attractions to give us some ideas. One of those suggested that there was an antique mall in the area, and I've often found such malls a good way to pass the time and see some interesting things, so I suggested going there. The mall was more or less what one might expect of such establishments, until my dad and I entered into the second major room. Dad made a comment about a vehicle that resembled the one in Legend, and I stared at it in stunned disbelief as I realized that it actually was the quadrovelocipede featured on the show! I knew that the vehicle wouldn't have been at Old Tucson in the first place, and had no expectations of ever laying eyes on it, and yet there it was standing in front of me in the most random of places!

A point of clarification is in order. There were at least two of these vehicles made (although I believe that there are only two in existence), and they were built specifically for Legend. I understood them to be sold to private collectors once production wrapped up by mid-1995, and I do not believe that they have ever featured in any other movies or television shows. One had been featured at the Kruse Automotive museum in Auburn, IN, but may not be there presently, as it seems to have been sold at an auction last year. The quadrovelocipede sold at auction can be discerned from the one we saw in Tucson by the presence of some damage to the driver's side wicker seat, as well as by the presence of a wicker trailer that is not present with the quadrovelocipede in Tucson.

I have no idea what history led to the presence of this specimen at the Midtown Mercantile Merchants in Tucson, but I wonder if it hasn't been there very long. Later that evening, I was trying to locate the auction site (linked above) that I had previously known to feature a quadrovelocipede, and stumbled upon a video that I had not seen previously. The low number of views surprised me, as well as its "published on" date. I then looked back at the Google search that had led me there, which told me that the link was only a few hours old. Doing the math, I came to realize that the video must have been posted to YouTube roughly an hour after my parents and I had found the vehicle at their location! I can only assume that someone noticed how much of a fuss we were making at having found this vehicle, and hoped to take advantage of some publicity. If you're in the market for a piece of television history, this quadrovelocipede is for sale!

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