Written by / 12/16/2012 / 1 Comment / , , , , ,

NEW YORK MINUTE: JOHN MENGATTI JOINS THE WHITE SHADOW

John Mengatti with Kevin Hooks and Erik Kilpatrick
THE WHITE SHADOW was a popular television series during the late 1970's about a former NBA player coaching an inner-city basketball team.

A memorable season two episode titled GLOBETROTTERS had all the makings of a jump the shark occasion (that’s when a TV show begins going downhill)…
John Mengatti with Timothy Van Patten
But it’s actually a classic, entertaining and important episode because, for starters, it introduced us to (despite the next episode, ME? formerly introducing him to the team and coach as well as another character-student beforehand) a new member of the Carver High School basketball team...

Nick Vitaglia, played by John Mengatti, is the cousin of Timothy Van Patten’s Salami. A New York native, Nick can’t stand Los Angeles for several reasons...
John Mengatti as Nick Vitaglia
There’s no stickball, the weather is much too sunny and there’s never any rain.

Although at one point the rain does fall, causing Nick to dance beneath the wet sunshine while the other players look on in disbelief.
Nick Vitaglia finally feels at home
Nick continues to complain about his new home, but he and Salami have some old school fun crashing a sporting goods store...

Sending an uptight employee into an emotional tizzy.
Nick displays some Big Apple Attitude
The episode has a lesson intact: The Carver High team is on a winning streak and their egos have heightened to epic proportions.

Coach Reeves (Ken Howard) has an idea: have the team work a charity car wash to bring them down to Earth... The plan doesn’t work.
Kevin Hooks with a very tall Globetrotter
The guys have so much attitude, they’re even condescending to several of the "menial laborers" at the car wash.

And for some odd reason, these lifelong basketball fanatics don’t recognize the employees as the famous Harlem Globetrotters, a trick-shot basketball team that humiliate opponents, worldwide.
A confident Coolidge (Byron Stewart) about to learn a lesson
At the end of the episode, Reeves sets up a surprise game with the famous b-ball dynamos: and the Carver team learns a lesson in being humble, and realistic.
The Globetrotters doing their thing
As can be expected, the Harlem Globetrotters destroy the Carver High players in front of the entire school. At one point they even pour a bucket of water on token team wimp Goldstein (Ken Michelman). 

Back to the point at hand… John Mengatti's Nick Vitaglia wound up a permanent resident of Carver High and became an instant fan favorite.
Nick and Salami stand up for the team
Usually a new cast member of any already popular (and in this case, perfect) TV series would be an unnecessary addition – but not only did John Mengatti fit in perfectly with the team, he brought a cool edge and street savvy humor to the proceedings.
Nick takes over Los Angeles, New York style
Season Three, replacing much of the cast, kept Nick and Salami – in one great episode they repossess cars and, well… since the final season has yet to be on DVD, you'll have to wait for that write-up.

Stay tuned…
BUY SEASON TWO DVD ON AMAZON
Strangely enough, John Mengatti's character meets Coach Reeves in the NEXT episode titled ME? directed by Thomas Hayward
Another from John's second episode that should have been his first after telling Coolidge he's vying for his job at Center
Actually, technically, John Mengatti played a student in Season 2's Sudden Death before becoming the regular, Nick
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1 comment:

  1. DUDE! Two great things about the 1970's early 1980's. THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS and THE WHITE SHADOW - dude I LOVED this episode. It was one of my favorite ones. AND IT HAS the classic GLOBETROTTERS in it that I grew up to love. I saw the Harlem Globetrotters back then every time they came to the Forum in Inglewood. Curly, Meadowlark Lemon, oh man oh man oh man. Of course back then the NBA took second fiddle or third fiddle to Baseball and Football. It wasn't until Magic and Bird that it arose from it's depths. But the Harlem Globetrotters were HUGE back then!

    I loved the WHITE SHADOW (and I loved the fact of seeing the old White Shadow himself, Ken Howard, make a timely appearance in RAMBO).

    Great flashback Jim. One of my favorite television shows, one of my favorite actors Ken Howard, and the freaking HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS - such a huge part of my youth.

    Great stuff.

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