Wednesday, November 26, 2014

STARSTRUCK (1979)


I have literally been looking for evidence of the existence of this 1979 failed sci-fi sitcom pilot ever since I started this blog. Couldn't find a reference to it anywhere online. Wasn't even listed on the IMDb.

Then, yesterday afternoon, Star Kid Traie Payne posted to the Space: 1970 Facebook page a link to an A.V. Club article that not only confirmed my 35 year-old memories, but even included video of the entire show - which aired only once, on CBS in June of 1979. Thankfully, Chuck Cirino, who worked on Starstruck as an effects technician, saved his tape of the show and uploaded it to YouTube for posterity. (And, coincidentally, to save my sanity.)

The half-hour show told the story of the Earth-born McAllisters and their family-run restaurant and hotel in space, catering to an intergalactic clientele of bizarre aliens, robots and other space travelers. I remember watching it when it aired, and it stuck in my head, even though I never found any reference to it after that original viewing. Watching it now, I can see that it's not particularly funny, so it's no surprise that it didn't go to series. But the effects, production design and make-up effects/monster masks, are all pretty good for the time.

Anyone else remember this one?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

News: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) & GALACTICA 1980 Blu-rays Coming in May

In a nice bit of synchronicity (since I was talking about it in the previous post), Universal announced just today that the original 1978 version of Battlestar Galactica - as well as the follow-up series, Galactica 1980 - will be coming to Region 1 Blu-ray in May, 2015, in two editions with some significant differences. Here's the official Press Release:
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA:
THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

AND

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA:
THE REMASTERED COLLECTION

COMING TO BLU-RAY ON May 12, 2015
FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Nov. 24, 2014 - From renowned writer/producer Glen A. Larson, the creative force behind Knight Rider, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, comes the groundbreaking TV series that launched one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises in history, now available in widescreen and high definition as both Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection and Battlestar Galactica: The Remastered Collection come to Blu-ray on May 12, 2015 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. These essential collections for Battlestar Galactica devotees include all 24 explosive episodes of Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series plus the complete 10-episode spin-off series, Galactica 1980.

Newly remastered in 16:9 widescreen presentation for the very first time, Battlestar Galactica: The Remastered Collection features both pioneering series meticulously reformatted to be optimized for the HDTV viewing experience. Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection also includes both series in 4:3 Full Frame as they were originally televised, plus the theatrical version of the premiere episode "Saga of a Star World" presented in 1.85:1 Widescreen for the ultimate collector.

This epic adventure, which provided the inspiration for the critically acclaimed 2004 Syfy reimagined series, comes with over 4 hours of bonus features, including over 3 hours of deleted scenes from Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series! These collections also includes featurettes such as "Glen Larson on the Creation of Battlestar Galactica" and "Stu Phillips: Composing the Score" with an inside look at the genesis of this remarkable production, and "Remembering Battlestar Galactica," a 45-minute retrospective documentary featuring cast and crew on the making of this ground-breaking series.

In Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series, the Twelve Colonies, hopeful for lasting peace following centuries of intense warfare, gather to sign a treaty with their dreaded enemies, the Cylons. But after an act of treachery on the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons launch a devastating surprise attack, destroying the Colonies' home planets and most of their military strength. A lone flagship battlestar, the Galactica, remains to aid the surviving colonists on their epic journey to a new home on a far-off, legendary planet-Earth.

Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series stars Richard Hatch (The Streets of San Francisco), Dirk Benedict (The A-Team), Lorne Greene (Bonanza), Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Apollo 13), John Colicos (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Maren Jensen (The Love Boat), Noah Hathaway (The Never Ending Story), Laurette Spang (Airport 1975), Tony Swartz (Dynasty) and Terry Carter (McCloud).

Galactica 1980: The Complete Series picks up 30 years after the events of Battlestar Galactica, as the original crew finally makes the long-anticipated descent to Earth. With time running out and the Cylons closing in on their trail, Commander Adama and the Galactica team work harder than ever to help Earth create the technology necessary for battle.

Galactica 1980: The Complete Series stars Kent McCord (Emergency), Barry Van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Robyn Douglass (Breaking Away) and Lorne Greene.

Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection includes:

    Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series (Widescreen and Full Frame)
    Galactica 1980: The Complete Series (Widescreen and Full Frame)
    Battlestar Galactica - The 125-minute theatrical edit of the premiere episode "Saga of a Star World"


Battlestar Galactica: The Remastered Collection includes:

    Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series (Widescreen)
    Galactica 1980: The Complete Series (Widescreen)


BONUS FEATURES ON BLU-RAY

    Over 3 hours of Deleted Scenes
    Remembering Battlestar Galactica - a 45-minute retrospective documentary featuring cast and crew on the making of this ground-breaking series.
    Episode Commentary with Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Herbert Jefferson Jr.
    Glen Larson on the Creation of Battlestar Galactica
    Stu Phillips: Composing the Score
    And More!



THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION - TECHNICAL INFORMATION - Blu-ray
Street Date: 5/12/2015
Running Time: 57 Hrs. 7 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen, 4:3 Full Frame
Languages:

    Full Frame & Widescreen Versions: English
    Full Frame Version: French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese

Subtitles:

    Full Frame & Widescreen Versions: English SDH, Spanish, French
    Full Frame Version: Dutch, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, Portuguese

Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround 2.0 Mono (Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series), DTS Digital Surround 2.0 (Galactica 1980: The Complete Series)


THE REMASTERED COLLECTION - TECHNICAL INFORMATION - Blu-ray
Street Date: 5/12/2015
Running Time: 27 Hrs. 31 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround 2.0 Mono (Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series), DTS Digital Surround 2.0 (Galactica 1980: The Complete Series)
I don't like at all that they're presenting the TV episodes in an artificial, widescreen aspect ratio, especially since that's the only option with the "Remastered" set. Presumably, this means they're matted, and thus, eliminating information at the top and bottom of the original image. (At least, I hope they're matted rather than horizontally stretched! The Invisible Man Blu-rays a couple of years ago stretched the image to fill 16x9 displays, and it was awful!) At least the "Definitive" set includes the original 4x3 versions as well. That's the one I'll be buying.

I'm also not too upset by the lack of new CGI effects. One of the charms of these shows and movies for me are the handcrafted practical effects, and Galactica's were groundbreaking at the time, and worthy of preservation. I genuinely pity people who can't abide by classic (or "cheesy," as they call them) special effects and want everything to be slick and shiny and soulless. In my opinion, it's an insult to the talented and hardworking craftsmen who created them.

Here at Space: 1970, we're obviously all about practical effects and original aspect ratios.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Captain's bLog: 1124.14

Five Years In Space:  This blog was five years old on November 2nd. Quite coincidentally, I'm sure, a couple of weeks ago, right in time for the anniversary, the Space: 1970 page on Facebook started getting dozens of "Likes" out of the blue. This was unusual, because the Facebook page has averaged only one or two "Likes" a month for years. Suddenly, there was a huge influx of new fans (presumably), and before too long, the page had surged past the 2,000 "likes" milestone. Needless to say, this sudden interest got me thinking about this site and how badly I've neglected it over the past year or so.

I recently wrapped up my two weekly webcomics (Perils On Planet X and the crime comic Gravedigger), and completed a couple other long-gestating writing projects. As I slowly clear my commitments from my desk, I'm looking forward towards the new year, and figuring out what I want to do next. One thing I definitely want to do is get back to regular posting here on this site.

I doubt I'll ever get back to the nigh-daily updates of a few years ago, but I'd very much like to manage a post two or three times a week. I have a surprising number of unfinished articles, dating back a couple of years. One of my goals is to finish those up, along with a few long-belated reviews (The Aliens Are Coming, Star Maidens, Beyond Westworld, Space Stars, Meteor, Saturn 3, etc.) and get back to some old features (like "Fave fives" and "Favorite Episodes"). I'm also considering doing an episode-by-episode review of The Fantastic Journey television series, one of the few shows from the era that's still not on DVD (many episodes can be found on YouTube, though). We'll see how I do over the next few months, I guess.

For what it's worth... I have been re-watching a lot of 70s sci-fi shows over the last few weeks....

HD News: Basically, it's all good news/less-good news on the hi-def 70s sci-fi front. Rumor has it that Universal will be releasing a Region 1 Blu-ray set of the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica in early 2015. That's the good news. The less-good news for some folks is that it will apparently not include any re-done CGI special effects (although it seems that they were considering it for a while), but will instead use the same HD masters as the German Blu-rays from a couple years ago.

To be honest, though, I'm kinda glad they didn't replace the effects with new CGI, no matter how nice and slick it might look. Part of my love for these shows is the handcrafted practical effects, and I'm glad they're being preserved.

The long-awaited second season Blu-rays of Space: 1999 appear to finally be on the way, as well. Network has announced that Year Two will be released on Blu-ray in the UK in the Autumn of '15. There will also be a standalone HD release of the two-part "Bringers Of Wonder" episodes.

Before American fans get too excited though, here's the less-good news: there has been no official word as yet about a Region 1 Blu-ray release through A&E, the show's US licensors.

Stuff to Check Out: My virtual pal Rob Kelly has recently revived his Power Records blog, which means, of course, lots of cool Star Trek, Six Million Dollar Man, Planet Of the Apes and super-hero 45 rpm audio bliss, not to mention scans of the fantastic comics and album covers that graced these nostalgic faves. He's posting pretty much daily, so click over and visit.

I've mentioned it here before (a long while back), but I'm quite taken by what I'm seeing of Spectrum Games' Retrostar RPG, which endeavors to recreate the feel of the kind of 70s space operas we celebrate here at Space: 1970. I get a very strong Star Frontiers vibe off the thing, so you Old School gamers might want to give it a look.

Space: 1970 Still Wants You: As mentioned in my last "Captain's bLog" (back in July!), I've always been open to - and grateful for - submissions from my readers. Now I want to outright encourage you folks to send me any cool Space: 1970-era stuff you might think would be interesting to your fellow Star Kids. Rare photos and production art, behind-the-scenes stills, nominations for "Space Babes" or Reader Polls, personal photographs of you and your friends with your favorite 70s sci-fi toys, pretty much anything, really. Hell, even if you'd like to write a Guest Post, just e-mail me. I'll do my best to credit any contributions I use, of course.

That's it for now, I guess....

Friday, November 21, 2014

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #50: PLANET OF THE APES

Who says apes and humans can't get along? Here are a couple of gorillas playing cards with their usual prey between takes on the set of 1968's seminal anthropoid epic, Planet Of The Apes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy (Belated) Life Day!

Yesterday marked the 36th (!) anniversary of the much-derided Star Wars Holiday Special, which aired on CBS in 1978. Sure, I've kicked the bizarre variety special around some myself over the years, but I admit that I was watching it that night, sitting on the floor about two feet from the tube, and fourteen year-old me enjoyed the hell out of it. And if truth be told, whenever I pop in my bootleg DVD to torture the wife each holiday season, I still enjoy it.

Well, parts of it, anyway.

That awesomely strange cartoon, of course, introducing to the universe the intriguing Boba Fett. Some (very little, admittedly) of the domestic wookiee stuff. (And the Stan Winston wookie suits are fantastic and full of character.) Mark Hamill's heavy makeup. Harrison Ford, trying to stay in character and keep a straight face amid the nonsense. And I genuinely enjoy Bea Arthur's musical number - and whoever thought I'd admit that?

The less said about Carrie Fisher's singing, on the other hand, the better.

When the only Star Wars was Star Wars, (and the Marvel comics) even this bizarro Seventies artifact was something to look forward to and even celebrate. Have yourselves a happy (belated) Life Day and may the Force be with you, Star Kids!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Obit: Glen A. Larson, R.I.P.

Television producer Glen A. Larson, who created the original Battlestar Galactica and developed Buck Rogers for the small screen, passed away Friday night of esophageal cancer at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. Larson was 77.

An extremely successful producer - although not always a respected one - Larson was responsible for a ton of Seventies and Eighties television, including such hits as Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., B.J. And The Bear, The Fall Guy, Switch, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Alias Smith And Jones, Manimal, Quincy M.E., and more. He produced the second and third Six Million Dollar Man telefilms, and brought the 90's comic book hero NightMan to television.

But for Star Kids, it was Galactica that stands as his shining achievement, an epic-scaled space opera with groundbreaking, theatrical-quality special effects and production design, and themes inspired by Larson's Mormon faith. It debuted in the Fall of 1978 as a Top Ten show, and finished the season as the 25th most popular show on television, only failing to get renewed because of its extravagant million dollar (plus) weekly budget. Despite its abbreviated run, it lived on in novels, comic books and a brief 1980 revival series, eventually being retooled and resurrected in 2004 for the Sci-Fi Channel.

He also worked with Leslie Stevens (The Outer Limits) to update the classic comic strip hero Buck Rogers for Universal and NBC in 1979. The pilot film so pleased the studio that it received a theatrical release in the Summer of 1979, before going on to a two-season run on television.

Although Larson was notorious for ripping off popular movies with his shows (he was even sued by 20th Century Fox and George Lucas over Galactica's similarities to Star Wars), his programs were undeniably entertaining, filled with action, humor and glamor, aimed solidly at family audiences.

I count more than a few of Larson's shows (Magnum P.I., The Fall Guy, Knight Rider) among my all-time favorites, and would rather watch most of them even now than much of what currently airs on TV. If Glen Larson was a hack (as his detractors insist), he was a successful one, and he'll  be missed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Adventures Of Lando Calrissian

Following the success of Brian Daley's trilogy of Han Solo novels in 1979-80, Del Rey Books released a three-volume cycle of Star Wars universe novels by L. Neil Smith, featuring the Millennium Falcon's previous captain, the roguish Lando Calrissian in 1981. The titles were:  Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon and Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka. (My spellchecker's having a stroke.)

Like Daley's Han Solo books, these novels took place well before the events of the original Star Wars films, and were set off in corners of the galaxy that seemed to have little connection with the Imperial settings of the films. Unlike the Solo novels, though, the Calrissian adventure were just plain weird. Even when Lucasfilm was building and putting considerable effort into reconciling its "Expanded Universe," the events, characters and planets in these books were essentially ignored. Still, at the time of their release, there was damned little new Star Wars adventures to be had, and offbeat as they were, they were eagerly snapped up by young fans.

Plus, they had great cover paintings by Williams Schmidt.

The Mindharp Of Sharu
The Flamewind of Oseon
The Starcave of ThonBoka

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November's Space Babe: Eddie Benton

Our latest Space Babe is Eddie Benton (a/k/a Anne-Marie Martin), who starred in the 1979 Canadian-made space opera, The Shape Of Things To Come, as the resourceful roboticist Kim. She also memorably guest starred in the first season Buck Rogers In the 25th Century episode, "Twiki is Missing!" as a telekinetic troubleshooter named Stella.

Born as Edmonda Benton in Ontario in 1957, the comely actress with astoundingly sexy legs appeared in a number of TV shows and films of interest to Space: 1970 fans during the late 70s and early 80s, including guest roles on Wonder Woman and The Powers Of Matthew Star. In 1978, she played Clea in the Dr. Strange TV movie. Apparently, she was one of the many young actresses that auditioned for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars, too. In '81, she changed her name to Anne-Marie Martin, and retired from acting only a few years later.

From  1987 to 2002, she was married to best-selling novelist (and Westworld creator) Michael Crichton. When the couple split up, she reportedly received a 31 million dollar settlement. Needless to say, she now lives a life of leisure, devoting much of her time to keeping and riding horses.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SILENT RUNNING (1972) Poster Art

During one of my recent Google image safaris, I stumbled across this text-free scan of George Akimoto's painting for the the American one-sheet for Douglas Trumbull's 1972 sci-fi parable, Silent Running, and thought it was too nice not to share here.

Updates have been infrequent of late, but I do plan on having some more substantial articles posted here soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

News: AT THE EARTH'S CORE (1976) Hitting Blu-ray in January

Good news for fans of the John Dark/Kevin Connor lost world epics of the Seventies: Kino Video and Scorpion Releasing have announced that they will be bringing to Blu-ray the Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation At the Earth's Core (1976), starring stalwart Doug McClure, Star Wars' Peter Cushing, and the stunning Caroline Munro. The disc is scheduled to be released on January 13, 2015.

Here's what Kino has to say about their upcoming release:
There's more than lava at the Earth's core. There's also Pellucidar: an underground empire where gargantuan pterodactyls torture and enslave all humanoids - including the lovely Dia (Munro). But all that could change when a surface-dwelling scientist (Cushing) and an American businessman (McClure) drive their powerful "Iron Mole" straight into Pellucidar...stirring up a great deal more than dirt, rocks and lava!

Special Features:

    Reversible cover art work
    Brand New on camera interview with star Caroline Munro
    Brand New on camera with Director Kevin Connor
    Audio commentary with Kevin Connor
    Original Trailer
Sounds like an essential purchase! Here's hoping that this does well, so that Kino might also score the rights to Warlords Of Atlantis (which still doesn't have an authorized U.S. release) and the Time Forgot flicks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Trek Into Space History

On this day in 1976, NASA's prototype space shuttle Enterprise was rolled out of its assembly facility in Southern California and displayed before a crowd of several thousand. Among those in attendance were most of the officers of Star Trek's starship NCC-1701, including Leonard Nimoy, future Internet superstar George Takei, an apparently sleepy DeForest Kelly, and a gloriously bearded Jimmy Doohan.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gerry Anderson Posters By Eric Chu

I don't often spotlight new products on this site, but this one is pretty damned irresistible, especially since there's virtually no vintage merchandise to tie in with the 1975 Gerry Anderson telefilm, The Day After Tomorrow - Into Infinity. Big thanks to Star Kid Mike Lynch for bringing this poster, painted by the amazing Eric Chu and offered by the official Gerry Anderson website, to my attention.

Of course, I poked around the site a bit, and discovered that the talented Chu had also created posters for various other Anderson properties, and was especially taken by his two paintings for Space: 1999, representing both seasons of that epic series. Gorgeous, gorgeous work.