Greatest "Cowboys Vs. Dirt Bikes" Movie of All Time

The Monkees, the 1960s' greatest prefab superband, just did a few reunion shows — except that one Monkee, in particular, was not present: Mike Nesmith, who went on to have a varied and illustrious post-Monkees career... including one time-travel movie.


Here are some of our favorite scenes from Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann, the 1982 movie about a dirt bike racer who gets zapped back in time to 1875 and has a whole series of Wild West adventures. Nesmith wrote the script, produced the movie, and wrote the soundtrack himself. This is just one of many strange adventures Nesmith had after the Monkees, including suing PBS, starting a couple of alt-country bands, and making the weird proto-music video compilation Elephant Parts.

Timerider might be one of the strangest things the Smartest Monkee ever did, though. Lyle Swan is a tough-ass dirt-bike racing champion in a bright red suit, who accidentally drives into a time portal created by some scientists who are trying to send a monkey back in time for a few moments. Lyle winds up stranded 107 years in the past, and one of the scientists says to the other, "We've got our experiment now." Which seems like an odd thing to say when you've accidentally stranded a dirt-bike racer in the 19th Century. I would be looking out my window to see if the late 20th Century suddenly looked way different, since someone could have reverse-engineered that sucker.

Anyway, Lyle thinks he's just gotten more lost than usual, and he roars around the Old West asking people for a telephone and saying ironically funny stuff like, "I'm riding away. This town is history." He runs into a group of Mexicans around a campfire and they think he's the devil because of his loud bike and his bright red suit. One of the Mexicans dies of a heart attack, and Lyle is sad.

Most of the clips above come from the central part of the movie, where he falls afoul of some dirty low down outlaws, who covet his dirt bike. As one of them says, if General Lee had had a dirt bike like that, the Civil War would have turned out differently. And he meets Claire, a perky gunslinger who forces him to disrobe at gunpoint. (To which Lyle responds, "You can't! I mean, a girl can't..." Because it would be okay if it was a guy forcing a girl to disrobe at gunpoint, of course.) He randomly tells her about her medallion, which his great-great-great-grandfather gave to his great-great-great-grandmother after their one beautiful night together.

Thus setting up the ending of the movie, in which we find out that... wait for it... Lyle is his own great-great-great grandfather! Mike Nesmith was probably the first person to come up with this twist, but then someone else saw Timerider and went back in time several decades to give this idea to other writers. Mike Nesmith was robbed!


Schrödinger's Pragmator

Its absolutely fascinating ... what is it exactly about the "80's" look that defines it so well? I'm speaking of the preview picture for the article. Without clicking through, I immediately knew this was an image of a woman in a early 1980's (or late 1970's) film. I mean, its just a head shot, but that's enough. Is it the hair? The eyebrows? Has the appearance of the human female actually changed since then?