Do you recall the classic science fiction film Logan's Run
from 1976 starring Michael York
as Logan 5 and Jenny Agutter
as Jessica 6? This is about a future society that – following an atomic war – lives in a domed city.
In many ways they live an idyllic life – the problem is that it's a somewhat short life. Due to limited resources, everyone is supposed to be euthanized at age 30 (they don't realize that they are being euthanized – they believe they are being renewed and reborn in new bodies). The story follows the actions of Logan, a "Sandman" charged with tracking down and killing citizens who "run" from society's lethal demand. But Logan starts to question things; he ends up "running" himself with Jessica and they eventually manage to make their way to the world outside the city.
Quite apart from anything else, I would like to meet whoever designed Jenny Agutter's costumes and shake him or her by the hand (actually I would probably give them a great big hug), because these costumes certainly enhanced the film for me when I watched it as a young lad!
Strange to relate, I only just discovered that Logan's Run started life (no pun intended, since the film itself is largely about ending life) as a 1967 novel
by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Well, you learn something new every day!
The reason I mention this here is that I was travelling on business last week. When I'm spending hours in airports and on planes, I like to pass the time reading books and watching films and TV programs on my trusty iPad. Thus, the day before I set off, I took a metaphorical stroll around the iTunes Store, where I ran across a 1977/78 Television Spinoff of Logan's Run
I couldn’t help myself. I downloaded the entire series to my iPad and then waited in dread anticipation for my journey to commence…
OK, I have to admit that this was just about as cheesy as these things can get. Having said this, I also have to say that it was a lot of fun. And it certainly reminded me just how sad and pathetic effects and props could be in the 1970s. Some of the effects were surprisingly good, but others made me want to laugh out loud.
Take the solar-powered vehicle that Logan and Jessica commandeer, for example. It's supposed to float above the ground in some way, but when it moves you can see the wheels underneath it. And when you get close, the vehicle's "futuristic shell" appears to be little more than badly-fitted (and badly painted) plywood.
One thing that struck me in the first episode was when Logan and Jessica end up in a Robot City whose cyber-inhabitants desire only to serve humans and make them happy … the problem being that the robots do not want to let their human visitors leave. This is where we meet a beautiful "lady" robot called Siri
, which made me wonder if there was any connection between this Siri and the modern incarnation on iPhones?
Having plunged into this pool of nostalgia, I started thinking of some of the other classic science fiction TV series that I used to love as a kid; for example, Batman
(starring Adam West), Lost in Space
, Land of the Giants
, My Favorite Martian
, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
, all of which were from around the mid-1960s.
Of course the original series of Star Trek
was also from around the middle of the 1960s, but this sort of stands apart in my mind. Similarly, the first episode of Doctor Who
aired on Saturday 23 November 1963 (I remember it well – I was six years old and I watched this episode from my "safe place" standing behind the sofa in our family room), but – once again – this stands "proud in the crowd" as far as I am concerned.
And then we had the 1970s, which brought us such classics as Wonder Woman
, The Six Million Dollar Man
, Land of the Lost
, and the original Battle Star Galactica
But wait, there's more, because the name Flash Gordon
just popped into my head. The original Flash Gordon
, which started life as a series of short (like 20 or 30 minutes, I think) movies that were made in the mid-1930s and that starred Buster Crabbe
. (When my mom was a kid, she says that all of her friends would go to the movies on Saturday morning, and that there were lots of little movie-series that always ended with a "cliff hanger" so that you had to go back the following week to see what happened.) This was followed by a Flash Gordon TV series
in the 1950s, and this is where I get confused, because I remember seeing Flash Gordon in black-and-white on TV as a kid, but I don’t know if I was watching the original movie series being shown on TV, or if I was watching the later made-for-TV series (which many critics say was nowhere near as good as the Buster Crabbe version). What I do remember was that even something as mundane as turning an electric light on typically involved our hero straining to rotate a 4-foot diameter wheel mounted on the wall where one would normally expect to find a light switch.
I bet you thought I'd forgotten Buck Rodgers
didn't you? I ask you – do I look like the sort of man who would forget Buck Rogers? Actually, like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers started out as a 12-part movie serial in the mid-1930s. It was followed in the 1950s as a television series from ABC, which was in turn followed by the version I remember – the late-1970s television series from NBC.
And what was the "cheesiest" Sci-Fi TV Series from the 60s and 70s? Well, as far as I'm concerned, this honor simply has to go to Space 1999
which aired in the mid-1970s. The idea behind this (I am ashamed to say) British series is that nuclear waste from Earth is stored on the Moon's far side. This waste explodes in a catastrophic accident on 13 September 1999, knocking the Moon out of orbit and sending it and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha hurtling uncontrollably into space. I could live with this premise – I could even live with the silly costumes they wore – but what I had real problems with was the "science" (or the lack thereof) underpinning the program. I mean to say … there was no concept of time or distance or anything … every week the moon ended up flying through a new solar system or something … I'm frothing at the mouth just thinking about it.
But enough about me; what about you? Did you used to watch any of these programs? If so, which did you like the best (and which did you hate the most)? And did I forget any that should be here (remember that we are talking only about programs fearuring live actors; we are not talking about cartoons or animation of even Supermarionation as discussed in my earlier Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, and Thunderbirds
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