It feels something of a waste that there is no riffed version of Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn. It’s 84 minutes, which is a good length for RiffTrax and Mystery Science Theater 3000. The plot appears to be your standard convoluted sci-fi nonsense. The leader of the warrior band Our Ostensible Hero encounters is a tall, bald man who doubtless appears threatening and intimidating. That man would go on to play a tall, bald man who appeared threatening and intimidating who was in fact an utter pussycat—and about the only character on Night Court who was almost never funny on purpose.
Richard Moll grew up to an impressive height in Pasadena, California. By the age of twelve, he was already six feet tall. By the time he was an adult—presumably by the time he graduated from Pasadena High School—he was six foot eight. He went to UC Berkeley, where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order. He returned to the Los Angeles area and went to work as an actor, where his size and physical appearance led to any number of bit parts. He beat up Jim Rockford, and that’s just one example. He was a gangster on Happy Days, “Mauler Mort” on T.J. Hooker, “Pimp” on Remington Steele.
Then of course was Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, for which he shaved his head. He auditioned for Night Court with the shaved head, and the producers liked it. He got the job—and kept the shaved head. It was so iconic that it’s always a little jarring to see him with hair. Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon was not a bright man, but he was kind and good at his job. He could intimidate by sheer bulk, but if you talked to him, you found a man who wouldn’t hurt a fly if he could avoid it. Funny things went on around him, but he didn’t himself make jokes much.
One of the ways he brought heart to the show was by his interactions with his fellow bailiffs. Bull cared deeply for Selma. When Selma died, he cared deeply for Florence. When Florence died, he was afraid to care deeply for Roz, because he’d been hurt twice already. But he couldn’t stop himself, in part because Bull was a caring person by nature. It wasn’t his fault that he scared people. Unlike many of the characters he’d played up to that point, he wasn’t trying to hurt people. He could if he had to, though.
Beyond Bull, Moll has done other fine work, including a lot of putting his powerful voice to good use. He’s simply adorable in But I’m a Cheerleader. He’s a powerful Harvey Dent/Two-Face in Batman: The Animated Series. Alas, he’s still doing fine work in utterly terrible films and TV shows, which will never not be a disappointment. He deserves better. We all do. I’m sure Richard Moll is a relatively inexpensive source of “Hey, it’s that guy!” But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be available to make higher-quality cheap movies, at least.